Rannoch Moor

From Lockdown to Loch down!

Probably one of the most stunning roads in all of Scotland is the road that takes you to Glencoe and beyond in the Highlands.  This is the case most of the day and night.  I was so fortunate when working with the post office to be able to travel this road at many a time and it never got boring.  One of the best times is the early morning at dawn, where the mists start to gather, and the water is as still as can be and becomes Mother Nature’s mirror reflecting the hills behind and the rocks that come out of the shallow water of the Loch.

 Scotland has many Lochs.  ‘Loch’ is a Scottish word for Lake.  It is a body of water that is usually landlocked by heather/marsh covered hills that take on a different hue depending on the time of year or even the time of day!  The most famous are Loch Lomond and Loch Ness.  Loch Lomond is around 1 hour away from Glasgow and spans a great deal of the A82 that leads to the Highlands.  Loch Ness is located right beside the City of Inverness and is the supposed home of the Loch Ness Monster.   The Lochs in the pictures are Loch Sheil, Loch Leven and the bottom two images are of Loch Lochan na h-Achlaise or if you don’t speak Gaelic,  “Loch of the Armpit”  There is also Loch Ba that is hidden behind the mists in images 6 and 7. This part of the road is called Rannoch Moor.

 

Ronnie Murphy Photography

Spring is in the air!

You really can’t beat a bit of sunshine to bring about the ideal conditions for photography.

Yesterday, Spring at last showed itself and all of a sudden the lockdown world which had been up until now, dark, dreich* days with either rain, hail or snow (and that is just in the one day) with very little motivation to do much but sit it all out.

Where no motivation existed the sun brought out in me a bit of effort to use that fantastic light that spring sunshine has to offer and so after getting the car washed I filled a flask with tea and headed out for the wonderful Pollok Park on the South side of Glasgow.

With ‘lockdown’ still in place, many seek the lovely surroundings of Pollok Park for their daily exercise; with a hardy mix of dog walkers, joggers and cyclists it’s a great place to grab those people shots too. 

This time there was an added joy of buskers, singing outside the gates of Pollok House.  This must be a new thing as I haven’t seen them there before, but the singing although breaking the peaceful surroundings of the park was quite decent.   In a time where concerts are banned, folk will take any live entertainment they can get! 

Although the fauna is limited to spring bulbs, there was still plenty of colours to capture as well as some welcome signs that spring is in the air. Ladybirds and bees!  

It was great to finally get out again, and as depression was starting to settle in it gave me a little nudge to start to see a way out of these dark Covid days.  I decided to apply to do my HND in Photography and hopefully I will be accepted.  That it is along the road in Paisley means that it isn’t that much of a journey so fingers crossed. 🙂

Things are starting to look up again. 

*dreich – Scots word for wet, windy and generally miserable weather.

Ronnie Murphy Photography

Photography and Mental Health.

“I have been manipulated, and I have in turn manipulated others, by recording their response to suffering and misery. So there is guilt in every direction: guilt because I don’t practice religion, guilt because I was able to walk away, while this man was dying of starvation or being murdered by another man with a gun. And I am tired of guilt, tired of saying to myself: “I didn’t kill that man on that photograph, I didn’t starve that child. That’s why I want to photograph landscapes and flowers. I am sentencing myself to peace.”

Don McCullin

If you know me well enough you’ll know that this won’t have been my first effort at writing this.  If anything it has taken me months to actually get round to continuing  on with this post.  But I think it is something that is important and something that is somewhat – for me anyway- overlooked.  Because it has taken so long it has been edited, re-edited and re-drafted – and even then I probably have said it all wrong.  Apologies if this is longer than it should be.

 

What makes a photographer tick (or even click)?

For me a photographer sees far more than what they photograph and what they present to you, the viewer.  They see it long before they press the shutter. It might be construed as intuition but in reality it is an all-seeing eye that has been active perhaps even long before when the hand held a building block instead of a camera. 

There are many artists who have had their demons, their outlandishness, their quaint personality. When you see their work you get an idea of their mindset and what their message is.  But let us go back  a few lines.  Demons, outlandish, quaintness. Are these words an opinion and a description of how we view them? Not how they regard themselves?  A photographer is also an artist

 

 Everything we do, everything we say, everything we share is the camera film on which so many people capture and in turn develop their own mental image of who we are. But it is what types of ‘film’ and ‘paper’ they themselves use that decides how we turn out. In this crazy world we are all equipped with different types of film and a whole load of different types of paper!

I should start with my own mental health.

I suppose for most folk, mental health starts to matter mostly later in life and it is in looking at our history where the problems start. I think our depression has it’s foundations laid well before we eventually come to recognise that our mental health has been gradually but constantly afflicted. Less so from our own experiences but from our observance of other peoples’ experiences. It is the so called ’empathetical’ amongst us that seem to get the realisation this is the case before most others do.  We live in a world that is now full of media portraying every human action and emotion. Some of it we can understand and yet some things we simply don’t have the experience to comprehend. So we look for the answer. If we see it then it will be seen either through curiosity or our own insatiable desire to interact as a human being.

A photograph is really about human interaction – from taking it to sharing it.

So it can only really be that photography comes from a yearning to interact whether it be from viewing or taking. It is that yearning that makes us who we are today. It is our means of escape, our desire to live, to learn and to experience just something new. Something different. Somewhere different.

I will be honest and say that most days just now, the urge to pick up a camera is practically non-existent.  Considering that photography equipment can be so prohibitively expensive, many who cannot afford the best equipment will see this as a total waste.

For many photographers it is labelled “Losing your mojo.” It can happen at any time and without warning and it can set off a whole load of emotions and ideas about ability and self-worth as a photographer.   It is a crazy self-destructive path that promotes boredom and total apathy…

Very recently, with lockdown being as it is, there seems to be this prison of safety around us but for many who suffer from mental health problems, the last place you want to be is in a prison. This is especially so when you have already sentenced yourself to spending a lot of time at home and in solitude but still appreciate the freedom you have to leave and take that troubled mind elsewhere. It is this that the photographer wishes to do most, like Don McCullin.

When the viewer looks at a picture, they are the constantly unaware they are actually the passenger of the photographer, the one who is free to look out of the window.  Observing and appreciating the journey but not really knowing where the driver is going.  You will rarely look or see the same things at the same time. That is the beauty of it all and it takes a lot of convincing for a photographer to realise that.

They’ve not lost the “mojo” but the map that will take them where they want to go.

Sometimes it is better not to use the map and not think about pre-planned routes to getting back on the road.  Instead accept the chance to be the passenger for once. Look and admire the driving of others.  Take in the views and accept the chance to park up  if you need to.  It’s not a racetrack but a long, long road of self discovery. 

Ronnie Murphy Photography
A great picture by my friend and former fellow student, Pamela Gibson. From a series of pictures describing lockdown and it's effects on mental health. © Pamela Gibson.
Ronpics Photography

Old Surroundings, New Buildings.

Well, what an interesting return to West College Scotland in Clydebank.

 When I left in 2019, they were constructing a building beside the college but it was not finished by the time I had left and to be honest no-one really had any idea what it was to be. Many of us thought it was a new health centre.  It turns out we got the H,e,a and t right.

This is the Queens Quay Heating Development.  A quite innocuous building too look at from a distance, but it boasts an amazing bit of architecture in it’s chimney. 

It is such an elaborate design of cladding/metalwork that not only catches the sun, but lights up a marvellous gold reflection when it does so…  Just spell bounding.

So, it was Frank, Cindy and myself, all former students that got a great surprise on return to an old stomping ground, where shots of the Titan Crane were all the rage – only because many photography tutors got sent into a rage if you even showed them a picture of it, there seems to be a new option to photograph for when the students return.  Hopefully that won’t be too long.

In a way I count myself lucky that I managed to do my studies pre-Covid. But I think many in my class would still have insisted I wore a mask… just for their own visual comfort.

Ronpics Photography

Street Photography in Glasgow

One thing I find most scary when it comes to photography is Street Photography.   There are many ideas of what actually constitutes what the term actually means.   For some it is the deliberate in your face, get a candid shot and show the bare bones of the human condition.  For others it is the somewhat voyeuristic look of watching people off guard.  Me?  I like it to be somewhere in between. 

 

Environment

Environment in Street Photography is the actual whole point of street photography, I think.  It is about not only capturing the subject, but subjects. There needs to be more than one thing to look at if it is a street photograph for me.  “Lived in” faces are fine, but they do not tell the whole story of that face. Indeed there are some who would argue that street photography does not actually need to have any humans at all, but then where is the reactions and interactions, and the body language that makes the picture? I think it is basically all about how you see it.  Which is why photography is so subjective.

Reactions/Interactions/Body Language

I think the pictures above represent most what I think Street Photography is, reactions can be passive interactive or even unknown.  The first pic is definitely in the ‘unknown’ because only one of the subjects can see the advert in the bus shelter.  The next picture shows passive where the 3 subjects are walking along the usually busy Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow.  The last shows a bit of reaction as this US police car sits on St.Vincent Street and is noticed by the man passing by. 

Street Photography can be daunting, but isn’t the current climate much the same?