Tuesday, 29 December 2009

to the hills

...an apt post for today before we drive up to Kishorn and climb some of the Coulin Forest hills. This image by Laurie Clark is very close to my heart, and as such, is pinned to the inside of my front door so that I see it every time I leave my home. Luckily, with the orientation of the door, the arrow conveniently points North!

Monday, 28 December 2009


Lesley Punton, Inversion
Silverpoint and gesso on paper, 2008,

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Friday, 18 December 2009

teach yourself to fly part 2

I was given a gift of a flight in a glider some time ago. I fully expected to be simply sitting in the aircraft, just coming along for the ride, taking photgraphs and enjoying the experience. I was wholly unprepared to actually fly the thing myself. In the end, this is what happened, with my instructor only taking control 5 or 6 metres before landing (and he said he almost let me do that too). I've always had a secret wish to get a pilot's licence but as I doubt I ever will, perhaps this is the nearest I will come. I flew at the gliding centre near Loch Leven on a summer evening after work last year. It was touch and go as to whether it would go ahead as the weather wasn't great (spots of rain were falling, and any more would have meant it would have been cancelled) but in the end we got the all clear and a tow plane took us up to 2000ft and, on command, I pulled the lever to release us from the tow rope. I'd like to say I could remember the sensation of silently gliding through the air, but in all honesty, I was concentrating hard on making the aircraft move gently and smoothly in it's turns, nudging the plane to the left, levelling and so on, and was getting a feel for the rudder and the pedals for most of the 25 minute flight. It wasn't silent either - sure there was no engine roar, but the sound of the wind rushing by was noisier than I'd expected. It was a fantastic experience though, and I'm glad I flew the plane myself. I'd love to do it again, and hopefully take some more photographs. Despite my camera being strapped to my wrist, I only managed to take a picture in the cockpit before take off, and one of the glider before I'd even got in! Great fun, and thoroughly recommended.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

a cold wild camp

On Saturday night, having driven through thick fog, we camped at this spot - 56°51'18.53"N, 5°20'41.36"W (the joys of google earth in working such information out!) hoping to get an early start before climbing Gulvain the next day. At camp, it was a cold clear night that went down to -6 or -7 (at least) and the trees glittered with hoar frost illuminated by the shifting beam of my headtorch. This is a short video clip made that night (the quality is better when viewed directly from the Vimeo link).

There were some fantastic shooting stars in the sky too; it turns out that this was the Geminid meteor shower which reached it's peak on 13th & 14th Dec.

Saturday, 12 December 2009


Our Christmas card for this year is back from the printers...

It depicts a snow covered direction indicator pointing to other Alpine peaks at Les Grands Montets, Chamonix. (photo taken by Jim Hamlyn)

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Sunday, 6 December 2009

experiments and observations on different kinds of air**

The forthcoming exhibition at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham of the work of João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva should be worth seeing. I was hugely impressed by them in Venice earlier in the year in their show experiments and observations on different kinds of air. In amongst the usual lagoon of mediocrity that can be found in Venice, João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva in the Portugese Pavillion showed a series of short silent 16mm & 35mm films that held the viewer with a quiet beauty and poetry not found anywhere else in the national pavillions this year.

(Their films are) "the study of singular phenomena in an effort to understand the world, the affection of a scientific methodology, and the understanding of poetry as a possible means of capturing an only partially discernable world...

João Maria Gusmão + Pedro Paiva.
3 Suns, 2009, 16mm film, colour, no sound, 0’50’’

...Through their films and experiments, João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva also invoke this hypothesis of other metaphysical abysms with a rather particular sense of humour. Recognising the failure of approximations of the real, they unpeel scientific absurdities to trace new laws in poetry. An adventure in "pataphysics" that presents what may be considered the greatest of all failures: the failure of the ego and its imprisonment, the impossibility of direct access to truth and a mocking and hallucinatory search, whose end is perceivably unreachable." (Natxo Checa)

**A title drawing on the work of the British chemist, physicist and theologian Joseph Priestley (1733-1804). He carried out experiments with electricity and air and for the first time isolated oxygen in a gaseous state. 

On the Movement of the Fried Egg and Other Astronomical Bodies will be on show at the Icon Gallery between 3rd February – 21 March 2010

Friday, 4 December 2009

the rephotographic survey

I was considering the link between the images of the fog bow (28th November post) and the earlier post of Timothy H O'Sullivan's image, "Fissure Vent at Steamboat Springs" and started to think of his image above, Rock Formations, Pyramid Lake, Nevada 1867, in connection with the images of the cloud inversion on Ben More last weekend. The rock formations rising from the surface of the lake reminded me of the way the hills burst through from the layer of low lying cloud. I've since then been informed that the location had been part of Mark Klett's rephotographic survey in 1979. In that image (below), the lake has dramatically dried out, and this seems to be a shocking and surprising change over such a relatively short time.


...that is until you see the 2000 revisitation by Klett (below). In this image, the water has partially returned, so there's more rising and falling in the water levels than one would perhaps have imagined. It's easy to look at the first two and assume there's a catastrophic connection with desertification, global warming, etc, but it may well be that this is more normal for Pyramid Lake than at first appears. Derby Dam was constructed in 1903, so it's likely there has been some man made influence in the change in the water level. Another likely cause is the diversion of the Truckee River for irrigation in the early 20th century, and which has reduced inflow such that nowadays, it is rarely sufficient for the spawning of the Tui Chub and the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, both now endangered species. Nevertheless, the final image does show that the situation is more ambiguous than we may perhaps think.