Working up in the Flow country of northern Scotland recently, I was reminded why celebrated landscape photographers in say, Estonia or The Netherlands, are pretty thin on the ground. Capturing the essence of very flat landscapes is damned difficult. And along with 2020VISION colleagues Lorne & Fergus Gill, Rob Jordan and Mark Hamblin, I was aiming to capture more of ‘the essence’ of this wild place; to tell the story of why this is ‘More than just a bog.’
Basic ingredients: flat, wet ground and big skies – none of the foreground lochs and boulder-strewn moorlands of the classic Highland landscape; no rushing burns or mountain backdrops. In fact stripped of most of the usual contributory components, my head was sore from the constant scratching.
But work hard – and in this case, work together – and the story starts to unfold. Reviewing my initial images, I was disappointed but having secured several timelapse sequences, and knowing what was coming from the rest of the team, it all started to take shape.
This massive area of blanket bog – the most expansive of its kind anywhere – has a story to tell but it’s a story hidden in the layers of carbon-locking peat that make up its very existence. Those layers of peat draw on centuries of accumulated decaying vegetation – it’s an historical story. Yet the significance of peat bog as a carbon store is only just coming to the fore and it’s the future more than the past, that this wild place will influence. Photographically it’s not easy but the reasons for protecting it are manifest.