Turning point?

30th June.  A milestone.  Halfway through the year.

Time to consider whether to persevere with this project to take a portrait a day for another 6 months.

It can be fun, it can be frustrating, but most of all its time-consuming.  Is it worth the effort?

While I ponder these questions here are all of those who I’ve photographed so far:












June’s image includes the portrait I took today, though it would be unfair of me to leave you guessing as to which of the 30 images it is, and a little unfair on the Chinese student, Dan, who agreed to be photographed.  That she is a Chinese student should be enough for you to find her now, but  to save you the effort…


Let’s go living in the past*

At 23.6 degrees Celsius, the Aberdeenshire town of Aboyne set a record last week for the highest temperature ever recorded in Scotland during March.  Seven days later, and early April sees the same town lying under several centimetres of snow.  A week is a long time in climatics.

The same weather system that painted Aboyne a whiter shade of pale has been moving south down the eastern side of the UK overnight, and the forecasters have been warning of disruption from snow falls.  Here in Whitburn, where I was photographing a woman in shorts a couple of days ago, the precipitation and wind speed have rocketed; the temperatures have plummeted.  It is 20 degrees cooler here than last week.

So far the skies have seen fit to ejaculate rain and sleet rather than the cold white stuff, so roads are flooding and drains are unable to cope.  No surfers or open water swimmers would brave the North Sea today, the white surf of Sunday turned brown by the sands snatched up by the power of the water.   The beach itself is alive, not with with the usual walkers and dogs, but with a flowing mass of sand particles, hovering above ground level as if part of some experimental reverse magnetism.

Finding anyone about is going to be difficult in these conditions, much less anyone willing to stop and be photographed while wind and rain work in tandem to provide discomfort.  Those who are out have their heads bowed in submission, or bravely sprint from door to door.

Luckily Gill’s car was due an MOT test, so in collecting her from the garage I had time to pop inside and photograph Lee who was manning the service reception desk.  The blue wall against which he stands gives an almost tropical feel in stark contrast to the conditions outside.

Returning to my car I noticed the automatic shutter doors keeping the workshop area protected from the conditions outside, and preventing valuable heat from escaping the building.  It took me back to teenage days when I would spend my summer holidays in the workshop of my father’s garage.  Even then I remember bitterly cold days when we would drag the heavy wooden workshop doors across the entrance to keep out the worst of the wind and or rain, though they were no protection against draughts.  Hands made cold by spanner or socket wrench were desperately warmed around small electric heaters that were woefully inadequate.

At least we were indoors though.  My first job after leaving school, and whilst awaiting my exam results, was in a shipyard on the Wear, though it was an office job and during the summer.  It lead me to wonder about the men who worked outdoors on the superstructure of those ships – what did they do on a day like today.  I suspect downing tools wasn’t considered unless there were extreme safety risks.  Shipbuilding eventually progressed to being undertaken in vast hangar like buildings with enormous doors that allowed the hull to be completed before being floated out for completion on the river.

It seems to me that people were more resilient in those days, more willing to put up with pain of frozen fingers, the discomfort of wet clothing, the chattering of teeth.  There seemed to be less susceptibility to allergies in those days too, ostensibly as a lesser degree of hygiene awareness led to more opportunity to build resistance.

Were we hardier souls in those days, or did the nostalgia gene kick in without me noticing, and if it did, at what age do we become susceptible?  (Probably sooner than we used to!)

Incidentally, as I processed Lee’s picture I was reminded of a guy I worked with some 25 years ago called Roger Talbot and wondered what he’s doing now.  Arrrrrggghhhh, there I go again!

*Jethro Tull

April Fish!

Today is April Fools day in the UK, and so for about a week now I’ve had a spoof blog written, weaving local events into a tale of subterranean crimes and terrors in a network of tunnels beneath the village green, and featuring local songstress and thespian Lauren Waine as my portrait, but in character.  For those familiar with Iranian culture there was also a character called Sizdah Bedar as a clue to the deception.

Then the plug was pulled on the idea when Lauren’s director needed her earlier today and our opportunity for pictures was lost.  Ces’t la vie.  Back to the drawing board and a theme free blog.

Except that having researched the tradition of the day, I was reminded of it once more when I reached the beach this morning.  Surf was up, and a group of of wet suit clad enthusiasts were already out to sea – and I had just defrosted my car!  A whole new take on April foolishness perhaps, although they seemed to be enjoying themselves.

An April fool in Denmark, regarding Copenhagen...
An April fool in Denmark, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Their activity would have been more appropriate in France, or maybe Italy, not because there are better waves there (is the Med a good place for surfing?) but because of the date.  April Fools day is a truly international celebration of the absurd, but in these two countries it is known respectively as “poisson d’avril!” and “pesce d’aprile!”.  I’ve no idea why the fish reference is important, but for the surfers , wet and shining in the bright sunshine it seemed a fitting description.  As they were thrust forward and buffeted by the waves they made great pictures.  Flying fish perhaps?

While I was standing at the waterline watching their antics, I spotted a woman walking her dog towards me, the bright sunshine illuminating her fair hair.  Something in her expression told me that she would have a great smile so I approached her.  Her name is Sheila, and she agreed to be photographed without even asking if it was an April Fool!

I would have loved to have captured the sunlight in her hair as I saw it, but the same offshore wind that was whipping off the wave crests was blowing her hair across her face, so I opted for a backlit shot, where the wind worked to keep the hair away.  Most women would have been horrified to be shot when out walking without full make up, but Sheila was game and I think she looks great.

Because I’d positioned her with her back to the water, and I was focused, literally, on her face, neither of us spotted the wave that pushed in just a little further than its predecessors, but Sheila felt it as the icy water rushed into her plimsolls.  The sacrifices we have to make for art!

I don’t think she was too vexed though, and she and her dog headed off to somewhere warmer.