Photography was my hobby in the 1960s—-and it still is! In the intervening years I have been fortunate enough to translate it into a small business, but the underlying passion for simply taking photographs has remained constant. What has changed is the technology — radically so in the last decade, opening up the pastime to vast numbers of people.
I started taking pictures with a basic Box Brownie, bought by my parents for my 16th birthday. Within a few years I had ‘progressed ‘ to a Range Finder, and eventually to an SLR (single lens reflex), which I used for 30 years. All of these, of course, were film cameras. Digital photography started to creep in about 10 years ago, slowly at first, but its growth has been exponential and has now largely displaced film. So the very concept of photography has shifted so that computer skills are as important as camera ones; pale tones can be enhanced, extraneous material removed or skies cropped, to name but a few instances. The net result can be (though not necessarily) to use less thought or care about composition at the time of taking the photograph as it can be amended later. This brings the ‘integrity’ of the image into question-although this may not matter of course!
I write this as a traditional landscape photographer, who is spiritually fulfilled by the natural world, but finds computer work rather tedious! ‘It is all about the light’, goes the old adage, and largely that is true. Shadows give sharpness and depth and are most obvious at the beginning and end of the day when then sun is low in the sky. Broadening that aspect out to the seasons, Spring and Autumn generally have the clearest light and present us with more vibrant colours than Winter, which, although sometimes stunning, is less fertile due to the pallid shades of the countryside. There are exceptions to the latter, however; a good example being drills or furrows, when the play of light and shade can maximise perspective.
In my experience, the most exciting effects are just before or after weather fronts move across the land. A backdrop of leaden blue on a bright foreground of leaden blue on a bright foreground makes for dramatic contrast, as well as the possibility of rainbows. Once a shower has passed, and the air and buildings washed, subjects positively gleam. Mist is another phenomenon, which makes for atmospheric images particularly in Spring and Autumn due to temperature differences between night and day. Once the warmth of the sun starts to burn it off, the mist-filled valleys clear rapidly, making for a short, sharp burst of activity by the photographer!
Black and white images can be very effective, but colour is a natural part of life and the varying palettes of the year, and locations fascinate me. Each place has its own spectrum, which becomes familiar and comforting. The hill country of the Upper Tweed valley, and Broughton in particular, is blessed with splendid, intense evening light, especially in the summer, due, I surmise, to the topography; to the West, the sun’s descent is not blocked by elevations and therefore sets nearer sea level, intensifying the rays falling on Broughton Heights. The scarlet and salmon pink shades can be breathtaking.
In my opinion, the entire area is the most beautiful part of the Borders, and a gift for anyone with a camera.
Evening shadows over Broughton © Liz Hansen
Drumelzier © Liz Hansen
Tinto © Liz Hansen