Categories for Opinion

Me Now.

During the run up to last years Scottish Independence referendum I grabbed a rare half hour with my 19-year old son to quiz him on which way he was voting. He was a resolute No. I naturally assumed he’d considered the wider implications of a No vote to public services; the consequences to social and cultural cohesion; the likely impact on the economy and perhaps even, what Independence would mean to Scotland’s environmental policy. I was wrong. It turned out that as a representative of Team GB in alpine sports, he liked the tracksuit. He was voting on the future of his own country solely on the basis of an item of leisurewear.

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The box of believability.

Image processing: there’s a thin line between aspiration and desperation. The former sees a photographer pushing the boundaries of technology to expand, or improve, his/her style and the latter sees the same photographer crossing that boundary and free falling into a pit of ridicule.

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The forest with no trees.

Four hours ago I was stood barely upright on Stac Pollaidh, one of Scotland’s most characterful mountains. Such was the ferocity of the wind at my back, I almost needed to crawl into the lee of the hill to gain some respite and a chance to drink in the spectacular views over Inverpolly Forest. Of course ‘forest’ is an ironic and misleading term as there is barely a tree to be seen for miles and miles…and miles.

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Cosmetic surgery for the soul.

A huge debt to our lead guitarist’s father, who’d misguidedly invested in a bunch of egotistical hairys, who could barely play but were nevertheless accomplished posers, meant that my dream of becoming a rock legend at 18 was thwarted before it really began. From the ashes of our well intended but naïve aspiration, my working life began but the damage to my vanity ran deep. Without the band, I was deprived of a public platform, an opportunity to bathe in the glory of public adulation. It was a bitter pill for a young man with carefully nurtured waist-length hair to swallow.

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No pain, no gain.

Without realising, I’ve been dashing around Scotland for the last 20 years with my head wedged firmly between my buttocks (too much detail?). I’ve not intended to be blind to the landscape in front of me but rather than look, see and ‘feel’, I’ve rather tended to simply consume. Recently however, I’ve forced myself to explore the Scottish landscape afresh; to put it in a wider perspective; to understand and appreciate it better, or more fully.

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SCOTLAND: The Big Picture.

I can’t remember the last time that I was so excited about my photography. It’s a bit weird; I’m like a kid in a sweetshop. It’s not that I’m jetting off to the Pantanal or the Canadian Rockies. It’s not that National Geographic is sending me to Antarctica – quite the opposite in fact: I’m staying in Scotland, a tiny country with a Big Story (that’s the exciting bit).

Years ago I met a Swiss photographer who was passionate about the Serengeti ecosystem. He told me to always make sure I was “doing something” for a place, species or issue about which I was passionate. Ever since that chance meeting, I’ve done exactly that, or at least tried to.

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Competitions with a cause.

Is it me or is there a constant stream of new photography competitions cropping up? Hardly a week goes by these days when I don’t receive yet another invitation to part with some hard-earned and spend a laborious day (or two) preparing and uploading images and (unnecessarily) writing captions, because let’s be clear, entering photography competitions is no quick job.

So why bother?

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It’s cool to cry.

I was never a great fan of Big Cat Diary. The naming of leopards and lions, the dramatization of their daily struggle for survival and the liberal sprinkling of cute kitten shots designed to pull at our heart strings and draw us in to what was deliberately constructed as a feline soap opera. No, it was a bit too fluffy for me, a bit nauseating, a bit emotional. Continue reading

The Eagle’s Way: Jim Crumley

Those of you who have endured my rants over the years will know that I just don’t get it. Life that is. I don’t get Christmas; I don’t get marriage; I certainly don’t get funerals. I don’t get cars; I don’t get jewellery; I don’t get food, especially pretentious food. The list goes on. I quite like tattoos though. And that frizzy hair that young women promoting discount sofas tend to have. Very nice. Overall however, I struggle to make sense of the world and its human inhabitants. Continue reading