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Slow photography 88: Kidnapped in Scotland, A Stevenson Lighthouse Adventure

Kidnapped in Scotland

Setting out over the roads of the Isle of Skye, we went in search of the Neist lighthouse, built in 1909. For over 100 years it has withstood the powerful winds of the Minch, a strait in northwest Scotland.

   The day before, we'd taken a wrong turn. It took us awhile to find the Ballachulish House Bothy. The delay worked in our favor, for there was a break in the weather, and when we finally found the correct driveway off the main road, a rainbow burst out overhead as we drove uphill past a roaring stream. Winds rocked the trees.
     We parked. The owner greeted us. We moved our dry luggage into the Ballachulish guest house, a white, rectangular, 19th century, slate roof, stone-built abode, described as a self-catering bed-and-breakfast. On the mantle above its fireplace, hardbound between red leather covers, was a complete set of Robert Louis Stevenson's novels (First American Editions, Scribner's sons). This lot of books measured three feet from end…

Slow Photography #87 Three Simple Things

Photography can get complicated. So, there are 3 simple things I try to remember about our craft. First, we must try to see the beauty of the earth each day as if we will lose our vision tomorrow.

Second, we can choose to be different than we were yesterday, meaning we can change how we photograph.

Third, we can take it slow, and wait until the spirit of our subject acknowledges us. When we allow a photograph its full expression, viewers will know it too.

Slow Photograph #86: MANUALLY MINDFUL, A Lens for Slow Photography

Manually Mindful: A Lens for Slow Photography
At sunrise in North Carolina on the eastern shore of the Atlantic coast, I go for a walk with a new lens. Red cardinals are singing from bare branches. Gulls shriek in a flock, flying over head. Spider webs on the ground are covered with dew. Pines and sweet gum support vines and creepers. Speechless, I absorb this Spring morning. 

In photography, we have lenses that stabilize. There are lenses for lightning fast auto focus. There are lightweight lenses designed to shoot quickly and ask questions later. 

This lens is none of these things. It is heavy. It records no aperture to the camera file. It is a soft at the edges. It is silent with no beeps.  

And while it does fit on my old film Nikon and my new digital camera, it does not auto focus. No focus indicators appear in the view finder. Focusing takes extra time. 

The modus operandi of this optic is the opposite of all gear that is marketed today.

Q: So, why bother with it on a modern camera?


Slow Photography #85 Waka Waka and Slow Photos Connect with Kids

"How to show the picture?” she asked.I pointed at the play button on the back of the camera. At 15, she was living in a home for orphaned kids on a Caribbean island. She quickly found the button, played back the video she'd taken of her housemates singing a popular song, and they looked on. Dressed in white t-shirts and blue shorts, the 12 kids from the Children's Home made a goodbye video for the friends that were leaving the island; a volunteer American couple who got close with the kids over several years of working at the home. 

These kids were curious, and the small camera was twisted, grabbed but not dropped. The youngest was an intense three-year-old who snapped image after image while talking non-stop about what he saw: the sky, the church, the grass, the pavement. Selfies were also a popular subject matter. 

These children are Black, from the Haiti and the Caribbean. I am white and about four times their age. Living in a home, coming from difficult circumstances, t…

Slow Photography #84: Serve and Return ~Jimmy Connors and Fast Kodak Film

Kodak has been a vital and important part of photography all my life. So, it was a thrill to learn this week's news that Kodak Alaris is bringing back T-Max Professional P-3200/TMZ film is coming back, March 2018 in 36 exposure rolls, after being discontinued 5 years ago. Film is Kodak's heritage.

Tennis is my heritage, but at the other end of the racket. I started playing amateur tennis when I was 9, but the pros, including Connors, were heroes who lived on another planet, visible through the distant telescope of TV. I craved a Wilson T2000 racket so I could hit as hard as Jimmy.

Now, I had the chance to cross over, and see bad boy Jimmy Connors up close. For 160 consecutive weeks, he ranked #1 in the world and when played in Denver, Colorado my senior year in high school, he was the men's singles champion of the Denver Open for the 3rd year.

At the time, playing for the Manual High School tennis team, I volunteered as a ball boy for part of this tournament. During one match…

Slow Photography #83 Exploring the Shrimp Hole

GETTING THERE:After sailing to Long Island, Bahamas in February 2018, we rowed our dinghy .4 miles (650 meters) east from the anchorage to a sponge fisherman's area ashore at Gray's Bight settlement, Long Island.

First called Yuma by the Arawaks, and later named Fernandina by Columbus, Long Island is 180 miles southeast of Nassau. 

Explore the Shrimp Hole and see the shrimp bodies reflected by the undersurface, an experience like floating in space, in this video:

 Play  Video "Exploring the Shrimp Hole, A Salty Paws Adventure"
THE SHRIMP HOLE:We'd been previously to Long Island's famous Deans Blue Hole, one of the world's deepest at 663 feet. However, swimming in the shrimp hole was surreal. To get there, you can drive South from Thompson Bay. Since we were anchored, we landed a dinghy and took a short walk across the Queen's Highway and through the grounds of Saint Mary's Spanish church past the graves to a slightly uneven, well-marked trail behind…

SLOW PHOTOGRAPHY #82 : Clear Waters ?

Snorkeling, I float in twelve feet of sunlit Bahamas water. The sand below is crisscrossed with past wave ridges and present wave shadows that intersect in a matrix of dancing light and dark.

A single sea biscuit rests on the bottom. It seems to call down the suns rays to the sandy bottom. The biscuit is a skeleton from a black sea urchin. 

Five grooves radiate from its mouth, now filled with the tiny shells of a marine creature. It looks like the center of a flower. I swim closer. A photograph blooms.

In the Bahamas, a sea biscuit shell is a good marine bio indicator. It is a marker, a natural measure of any toxins in the sea. When analyzed, the shell's composition lets us infer the amount and intensity of metal contaminants like lead and cadmium that have accumulated in the ocean.

Jim Austin Jimages