A Stone’s Throw


Scrap trailer in a farm yard

The last four weeks or so have seen a small photography project come together. Using the tintype setting on the Hipstamatic app, the project started as a couple of test images and grew larger, with aspect becoming clear after a revelatory walk through a location barely a mile from where i live. It was a wood, with a public footpath, that I’d never seen before.

We rarely explore around where we live. We become so complacent about our surroundings choosing to explore areas further afield. Many undiscovered ‘lands’ remain within a stone’s throw of our front door and yet we often choose to remain comfortable with the familiar. We can visit another day is often the excuse and that ‘another day’ rarely, if ever, arrives.

The Hipstamatic tintype setting was something I’d wanted to have a go with for ages. When it first came out it used to crash the app every time, however,  no problems now. The tintype has its own quirks with highlights and exposures in very bright light proving to be especially challenging. Several shots didn’t come out well due to the light intensity and a small number of shots needed tidying up in Photoshop – bright highlighted areas produced multi-coloured pixelated areas. The narrow focus area of the photos also takes some getting used to, but gradually you start compensating for it when composing images. I did rather enjoy the fact that you never did quite know how the image would turn out.

Around thirty images from the ‘A Stone’s Throw ‘project can be found in the gallery at :-


A few extra shots are included in the ‘A Stone’s Throw’ Flickr album HERE

A Portrait of Hamish

This rather impressive looking chap is Hamish, or if you want to use his full title – Hamish McKay Denovan. This shot was taken and uploaded to Instagram but also shared on Twitter via MobyPicture. This portrait of Hamish is the most viewed image I’ve had recently on a social network and the retweeting of the photo started almost instantaneously.

Mountainous landscapes of Glen Coe… meh! Scottish castles and lochs…. meh! A picture of a Highland cow…. yay!!! Why some images take on a life of their own after release onto the net, while others do not, is the reason why photography, and how we view and consume images, is so fascinating. Some photographs just hit the right audience and surprisingly Highland cattle appear to have quite a following out there on the internet. One re-tweet even came from a Highland cow who claimed he was a relative! 🙂

As regular followers of the blog may already know, this summer saw me start using Instagram, the photo social network app that allows you to add filters and upload images. The real test for any social network service is how the user engages with it, and Instagram, while it looks relatively limited in usefulness, is actually quite adaptable as a publishing platform. It’s fast, convenient and can be used in any number of ways. How you use the service is pretty much up to you and the variety of use is quite amazing. Family albums, celebrity worship, photojournalism, fine art photography, magazines, news channels and more can all to be found on Instagram. If you think that it’s all about pictures of feet or cats (there is a bit of that of course) then you’d be wrong. Instagram has a very varied user base with a broad range of photography to follow.

Distribution seems to be key for Instagram’s success, even though the filters usually get all the headlines. The photography is uploaded to the same place making it easy for others to view and follow the work of a specific photographer. You can quickly develop an audience that’s all on one website, able to view your work in one place but with the added benefit of also spreading the message outside of the Instagram family using Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr. For me, and it seems for Hipstamatic too,  that is where the the real strength of the Instagram network lies. Although I only upload images taken with my iPhone to Instagram, a number of photographer upload images shot on other cameras. Many photographers seem to use other photo apps to get their images and then upload to their Instagram account. Instagram is, at its core, just a very simple photo blog that’s easy to follow and publish to, with the added benefit of being extremely portable on your mobile phone. No wonder photographers, and especially photojournalists, love it!

So as you can see i have gone from a sceptic to a fan. Last month, in Scotland, I found Instagram a very useful tool for simple sharing what I saw. Often I would shot using just the iPhone’s camera app, then later tweak the images in Snapseed and publish to Instagram. The process worked really well and I’ll certainly be doing something similar again on the next trip up there in 2013.

Recently a great series of blog posts came out detailing the confused situation at Hipstamatic and how they view Instagram. It makes fascinating reading for anyone interested in the photo app/photo social network business.

The articles can be found HERE

Check out my Scotland and Skye Instagram images HERE

Ninety Degrees

The rain came in fast, moving across the expanse of water between Skye and Kyle of Lochalsh. Not that the weather bothered me as I took photos. There is nothing like a bit of rough weather to blow the cobwebs away especially if it’s rough coastal weather.

I did wonder if I was the only one to think it was slightly blowy so I was relieved to hear the lady in the nearby Lifeboat shop remark about how windy it was. It was heavy weather for everyone including the locals it seems.

Weather is, of course, an important component in photography and yet we often have the tendency to put away our cameras once the clouds darken and the rain appears. Keeping the camera out of the bag can often deliver rewarding results though a drying cloth is definitely something to keep with you.

The sheer speed of weather conditions means you have to be quick, though often you do see it coming and can add it to any landscape photo as long as you are quick.

So why is the post called ninety degrees? Well that’s the angle that the rain is falling at the moment 🙂