Fleeting Opportunity

Scotland Highlands 2015

“Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experience treacherous, judgment difficult” – Hippocrates (460-400 BC)

I love the photo above. I found it awhile back on a contact sheet where I had completely passed it over previously. I love the uncertain mood – unknown and maybe desolate. In the isolation of the frame, I look at it and ask myself what these people are doing seemingly in the middle of nowhere, marching off to an unknowable destination.

In reality, there’s a hotel directly behind me, and these folks are obviously just out for a short walk and back, but you can’t read that from the photo itself. Maybe that’s why I passed it up first few time around, because the reality hadn’t yet faded for me and I knew that in some sense the photo was a lie. With time, however, it’s not. It’s just three people walking someplace unknown, to both them and us. Something then must have told me to snap the photo and it would come together later. A lot of the photos I’ve liked have been that way, which tells me the best you can do is often serandipitous.

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2 thoughts on “Fleeting Opportunity

  1. Rob Campbell

    I understand the feeling, why you enjoy that photograph so much.

    Scotland is notorious for its lousy weather, and though I lived in Glasgow, just a few miles south of Loch Lomond, and sometimes used to mess around the eastern edge of it shooting fashion pix, the days when it was really postcard-beautiful were very few and far between. Sure, it’s not the Highlands, but I guess it’s as pretty as anywhere else up there in the north.

    The thing is, so-called lousy weather, as I discovered after I retired from commercial work, is much more interesting from a photographic point of view: it offers mood. Sunshine is really just an anodyne solution to the landscape shooter’s dilemma of what the hell can I shoot? Much, you might say, as the smile or big laugh is to the portrait photographer: a place of last resort.

    Scotland does offer that tougher alternative, in spades! As mentioned in the past, the sight of the migrating geese against the grey Perthshire skies used to fill me with excitement as it signalled the ending of the northern part of our frequent car trips, and meant the start of our own, bird-like flight back to the Mediterranean lifestyle.

    Now, I can’t bear to go out and shoot on sunny days; the last time I remember doing so was when I took it upon myself to try out the currently popular idea (black/white photography) of exposing for the highlights and not only letting, but forcing the shady side of the street into night. Realising it was just a simple mechanical trick, I lost interest very soon. Anyway, I don’t have big, modern city architecture to play around with…

    My hope is that we get a rainy winter, if only to fill the reservoirs and get me out seeking images again. I miss photography.

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