Tag Archives: Monochrome

Winter’s Calling

 

Late November, the dark peak.

Winter is home again on these high moors,

mewling in with chill-lash days of sleet and gale.

With fellhard testing days of hail obscured horizons and roaring, bed broaching brooks.

 

The moorlands, in summer sunbaked hard to a dustpuffing footthumping crust, hard as the skin-shredding gritstone;

air filled with skylark song.

Now, now they are become the haunt of ravens.

 

Now, winter drenched they have become again a crazy patchwork,

a patchwork of dampslick gritstone and foot chilling mud.

The sharp bite of ice,

its grip freezing the mud to iron hardness, the dampslick to glass;

that is yet to come.

With climate change it may not come at all this year. 

 

My body, fresh off the bus, shrugs a familiar desultory shiver. On these fells, bare weeks ago, weather warmed it welcomed the gentle kiss of a cooling breeze. This winter day, warmth barely conserved by swathes of fleece and shell, the intrusively questing tendrils of a nithering east wind find any gap; to chill any sliver of bare skin. 

 

But still, these long beloved rolling seas,

of heather speckled with islands of gritstone all beneath a sheltering sky,

 still they call me.

And so, as I have for decades, I respond.

With coldtingle scorched fingers and toes, with wind chapped grin, I run. 

And, for a little while, all is well and all manner of things are well.

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Develop; processing in the digital darkroom

 

A short how I do it film this weekend. 

I am, at heart, a monochrome photographer.  It is how I learnt the game with a home made enlarger in a spare room.  It is still often how I visualise an image.  Nowadays of course, with digital cameras we make our images in RGB and the Mac has become our darkroom.  Though I still own, and use a clutch of film cameras, digital is my workhorse.

So I thought, a “How Si works” film would be fun to do. 

The original photo was taken in Northumberland some years ago on an Olympus E3, with a 105mm lens.  As usual, it was shot raw.  I’ve processed it with my preferred editor, the photographer focused Capture One Pro.  I would still much rather have used a Leica or Hasselblad, HP5 and a DeVere504 with Forte Polywarmtone though.  Bach, Beethoven or Abba on the CD player too.

Oh, for the record.  That building storm was a brute, powerful enough to batter the boats moored in Seahouses harbour.

 

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To a possible reader…

Lone tree on a lake district fell skyline, monochrome

Beneath a building summer storm a lone tree; high on a lake district fellside.

A note to a possible reader. On prose, specifically mine, often the purple variety. 

I make no apology, for none is needed. I love words. I cherish them. I love their variety. I love that old words are refound and ofttimes repurposed, that new words are founded. I cherish the practical magics words create. 

Once I found passage through the wrecking reef shoals of ADHD and dyslexia, the wondrous richness of words became my refuge. When kept away from moorflank or riverbank, whether by school or by overbearing mother, I took sanctuary in books, into a wordworld of the imagination. The library, with the aid of an understanding father and a librarian who turned a knowing eye, and with that eye an occasional suggestion, that library became my portal; Narnia’s wardrobe in Portland stone and oak and brass and compassion. 

And so I grew up in company with, amongst others; Durrell, first Gerry later Larry; with Rebufatt and Whymper; Eyre and the Brontes; Pope and Dryden and Montaigne. Modern times they’re joined, again amongst others, by Macfarlane, Shepherd, Baker, Deakin, Calvino, Pratchett and Gaiman. 

Now, I do consider plain language has it’s value, in court reports, medical records, instruction books and suchlike. 

However, when recalling worlds to mind, or growing worlds in the mind of another. No, not here. When writing the experience of long fell day’s, for the flickering silvered nacre braids of a dipper bobbed stream: then the wondrous richness of words is where I play. 

There you are dear reader, if you like occasionally florid nature and mountain writing, for to my mind the two are inseparable…

Welcome. 

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Getting out the door: A morning run

 

A short film made after I’d been woken by my neighbourhood version of the dawn chorus. The local blackbirds and sparrows started up around 0500, some three hours before my alarm was due to wake me.

I yielded to the inevitable, got out of bed, found my running kit, drank coffee, ate cake and went out for a run in the half light. I also picked up my iPhone and did a little filming.

It was a really rather lovely run, a peaceful morning, surrounded by a birch woodland emerging into spring and filled with the sound of birdsong. And this magical place of twisting paths, of squirrels and foxes and birds and bats and the occasional badger is just one minute’s run from my suburban housing estate back door, in the middle of what was the South Yorkshire coalfield, a mucky place of pits, glassworks and shunting yards when I was a boy.

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Winter bicycle, waiting in the shadows. Sheffield.

A cycle wheel casts a shadow into deeper shadows outside Sheffield railway station. Monochrome image.

On a late autumn night a bicycle, chained to a lamp post, casts it’s own shadows into the deeper shadows cast by Sheffield railway station. [sb030173]

Sheffield, my home city, a hilly place(like Rome, seven of them, allegedly) a city surprisingly full of bicycles. In winter, as the nights have drawn in they dodge and weave amongst cars and buses and pedestrians alike. Or, like this they wait, casting shadow amongst the shadow, carefully tethered until their riders return.