Friday, July 28, 2017

A Walk On The Wild Side (In Sheep-O-Vision)

Morning troops - this is something sick-makingly different.

Well, you've seen this walk before - way way back in Off Piste 1 & 2, but anyway, I felt it was way too long since I'd done this walk and way too long since I'd been on the hills AT ALL.
It really is shocking how time disappears, it seems like the world is moving at a faster and faster pace, but the reality is that I am just getting older and slower - of course the world turns at the same rate - life continues as it always has done. It's just that in some little corner of my brain, my take on it is that it is getting faster!
The sad fact is, that I am just turning into an addled old shite.

Anyway, suitable packed I headed out, well I say suitably packed, I had to rip out and rearrange the lovingly sorted, perfectly ideal, nicely divided interior of my Tamrack 777 bag!
That was a nightmare in itself - so why did I do it?
No, quiet at the back, not because I am an addled old shite . . . it's because I had to make room for the Hasselblad and gear for taking pictures a long way from anywhere.
Last time I'd done this it was full-on 5x4 . . . but seeing as I have had no inclination to do any LF work in a couple of years now, MF it was!
Trust me, if you have a backpack for your gear and you work in different formats, do the right thing and buy a separate bag for each format (if you've got the room). Why? because it is a total b'tard having to tear out and rearrange those velcro panels!
When you get it just right, it's a good feeling, because it is there for almost perpetuity . . . but having to rip out that perfect arrangement to accomodate another format . . well, it's my idea of Dante's Seventh Circle. Anyway, I had no alternative, so rip, rip, feck, feck, rip, it was.
The air was bluer than a Smurf Convention!

Anyway, so here we are, on a lovely walk into the middle of nowhere.
I've got my camera (Hasselblad 500 C/M); the 60mm Distagon and some rolls of Ilford's really wonderful Delta 400. I took some FP4 too, but ended up on the Delta.
This walk really is off-piste - basically I followed a well-known track some of the way and then followed fence lines (always a reliable way to go) doing some moderate climbing, till my destination was reached. It isn't a massive walk as far as these things go and definitely not an exhausting one, but it was still uphill.
The slight frost on the ground cleared away quite quickly and I found myself 2000 feet up in bright (and very windy) sunshine.
Sadly for me, but not for the animals, I found no winter kill (ie dead animals caught by fences) It happens a lot with snowy ground and deer fences, but we had little snow this year, which is good news for the beasts, but not for me, so photographically it had to be all hill . . .
Photographing hills isn't as easy as people think, because, inherently, they can be quite dull (unless they have dramatic sky attached) and on a day like this was, the sky was a long way up and the hills were bathed in bright sunshine. Not exactly ideal.
I photographed the hilly bits, had a rooty-tooty time and headed back, because I knew that there was more to photograph. The truth is hill-mates, I secretly hoped that the upcoming subject matter was still there. I'd spied it a few years earlier and photographed it, and desparately wanted to photograph it again. It was maybe the whole reason for the trip . . . not that I've done it justice . . but never mind.

And now the Sheep-O-Vision bit:

Have a butchers at these stupid videos (shot on a PiePhone - yes a Wallace's PiePhone 2 . . . that's a Dundee joke dontcha know) with the added bonus addition of EWN!
It was unavoidable - in some shelter it was fine, but stand up and well, wind.
I made them as a bit of laugh and record for myself, but when I got back and watched them, I thought I could shove them on FB and see what happens. They'll give you a decent idea of the place, but it's just a shame there's some gnarly old twat talking to you.

OK, I've called the emergency services and they'll be here in a few minutes. Hope the recovery position isn't too uncomfortable and that the CPR hasn't hurt your chest too much.
So, I did take some photographs too - honest! 
In fact here's the results. 
None of these have been properly printed - just the two contact sheets, scanned at 800DPI and the actual photographs are just scans from those contact sheets at 3200 DPI. 
I am surprised they look not bad considering.
Film as mentioned was Delta 400, EI was 200, and development was in Pyrocat HD for around 20 minutes

And that's about it really. It was a decent walk of around 8 to 10 miles with a fair amount of gear, but I loved it.
I need to get out more actually, it's criminal
I am barely managing two proper walks a year at the moment.
If I had my way I'd be out there every day - it's food for the soul, and fat-burning for the middle-aged spread.
Any exercise is good exercise, and especially when you can breath really clean air and experience all the majesty of the Scottish hills; well, you can't put a price on it, can you.

TTFN, and remember. Er, what did I say to remember?.


  1. Ba. Baaa. Baa-aaa-a. Baa.

    Or, for the benefit of the non-ovines:

    That's some wilderness there. An interesting crop of pictures. And don't they scan well from simple contact prints - When they go through the enlarger I'm sure they'll be even better.

    Haven't tried Delta 400 in 120 size - I did have a go with HP5 and found it to be very nice in that format.

    Gotta go - today I'm in a very dark place, with only red lights for illumination... yippee!!!

  2. Thanks as always Julian, and yes, I was surprised too with the scanning.

    Delta 400 is excellent actually; HP5 I went through a phase of not liking it, but I used some on a trip back in the Spring and loved it - that'll be written up properly as soon as I can do what you are doing today. Hope it was a worthwhile session.

    Take care

  3. Wow! Are you wielding a selfie stick in some of those vids?? If so, shaaame on you :) But no, I think the videos are a rather nice idea. Plus, also nice to hear your voice.

    I'm very intrigued about that caravan. Who was living there and why did they just leave, as if all of a sudden, leaving everything behind?


    1. Hi Omar - thanks for the nice comments - as for selfie sticks, well yes. As I said once before in FB, me and Ali pretty much invented the selfie back in the early 1990's with my old original Olympus MjU. We used GSS (God's Selfie Sticks) or arms as they were originally known!

      I might consider doing the videos for other trips too, but better ones.

      As for the caravan, well I beleive it was a holiday caravan at one point - I remember doing that walk a long time back and seeing people sitting outside, but then some really really bad storms must have rendered it pretty uninhabitable. I can imagine back in the bad Winter of 2010, it would probably have been buried deep under the snow (it was a terrible Winter), though the evidence points to it as being abandoned long before that. I just find it remarkable that all that stuff has survived inside and hasn't been eaten by mice or mould.
      it takes a tenacious soul to live up in the Angus Glens in Winter - teh deeper you get into them the more extreme it becomes. I've seen drifts 20 or 30 feet deep.

  4. I like the videos as well. I may steal your idea for my own website. Your photos are great but it's also interesting to see the sort of place where they were made. I especially like the first photo of the rocks and the cloud.
    Pardon me if you mentioned this in one of the videos, but do the pile of rocks have any sort of historical or spiritual significance? Korea's native religion is shamanism and there are many trees and rocks sitting in the middle of nowhere that are sacred for some reason.

  5. Hi Marcus - you know, there's no spiritual significance as far as I can see apart from Barbeques and Buckfast - yes you do get people doing such things out in the wilds. There are some truly extraordinary collections of stones and boulders (some as big as houses) stranded by the Ice Age all over the Highlands - they are very commonplace. Maybe that's a good idea for new subject matter. And thank you for your comment about the first one - I am rather proud of it - and am looking forward to making a proper print.

    The concensus so far seems to be MORE SHEEP-O-VISION . . . duly noted!

  6. Just thinking. Assuming that the tripod in the final video was transported by you and not left by some other photographer, either in error or as a service to fellow travellers, the question arises: tripod transportation - how?

    I went out this weekend with the Bronny. That was in standard camera bag on my left shoulder. It could have been in a rucksack, but it wasn't.

    My current tripod movement strategy is like Fay Godwin appears to do in various films I have seen. That is, firmly grasped in right hand as I stride off purposefully in many directions. Surprisingly that's quite manageable and not as wearing on the hands/arms as I thought it might be, even after 6 or so miles of hard hillside slog.

    I'm wary about keeping it in the sack with the camera, plus it's a bit too big and would peek out the top which in rainy conditions would not be good.

    So what's the Sheephouse recommended method of Tripod Transportation?

  7. © Phil Rogers, Hasselblad 500 C/M, 60mm Distagon, 150mm Sonnar, Rolleiflex T, 75mm Zeiss Tessar, Ilford Delta 400, Kodak TMY 400, Ilford HP5+, Pyrocat HD

    Hi Julian - firstly I hope the trip was well worth the effort! Processed the film yet?

    As for TTM (Tripod Transportation Method) well, I've done it a few ways actually - lashed to the pack, either in the middle on the back or at one side, but I found both of these quite awkward at times. The lashing was done with either the straps supplied with the bag, or, better in opinion, army surplus straps - got mine from KitMonster - surplus but good condition (sometimes new) and VERY sturdy with ITW Nexus buckles and good quality webbing and cheap for the quality.
    When I used the Gitzo Reporter, I carried the tripod with the very sturdy pan arm on an old fashioned Gitzo P&T head. It was surprisingly easy to carry this way.
    When I was using the very large Linhof and Gitzo Series 5 head (weighed about the same as a Transit Van!!!!) I had two methods - a bungee looped around the legs at one side and the same at the other - it wasn't the best, but did work, and bizarrely, . .
    Actually this IS bizarre. Tights. old ones. Not yours, use the missus' that she's holed. Start at the toe and spiral cut with sharp scissors all the way up to the gusset. You end up with something resembling a one-piece potato peeling, but in tight form. If you make it about 1.5" wide, you end up with something surprisingly strong and flexible. Take a few of these and braid them, and you have a home-made strap of epic strength. I used two of these, one on each tripod leg, secured them securely around the leg with cable ties (they can arrest people, so some tights will do fine) and this made a proper improv'd carry strap, which was comfy for miles. These days I'd fashion something with Neoprene and a sewing machine to turn the edges and neoprene wetsuit glue!

    Anyway, that's my answers - there's no clear-cut method, but I think carrying in the hand is probably better than on your back!

  8. Thanks for the answers. I have my old man's proper Cresta rucksack which I can still remember from early childhood. That's an aluminium framed thing and feels very comfortable. I need to work on the straps with leather conditioner etc before taking it out on a proper yomp. Even so, my attempts at strapping the tripod to it have all felt ungainly.

    My other rucksack which is a nasty Nike thing from Sports Direct left my back covered in bruises after transporting the Kiev 60. I didn't mind so much, no real pain involved. Explaining the marks to the Mrs took a little doing.

    Of course while the weather at home on Saturday was brilliant, up in the hills it was drizzle. So it'll be yet another set of moody atmospheric pictures which is fine, but not quite what I was after.

    And the route I'd picked out on the map turned out to be a green lane used by many 4x4s and motorbikes. They all seem to travel in bunches. The motorbikes in particular sounded like so many angry hornets. But try as I may, I couldn't bring myself to be cross with them as they all seemed like thoroughly pleasant chaps. Maybe it was the way I was brandishing my tripod making them so respectful!

    A big plus for me was before all the motor mayhem arrived. I was getting my stuff together when a hare came up the road, getting to within about 10 feet before it spotted me. I didn't have the camera ready. It was one of those times that to try to photograph would have destroyed it. It was a magical moment with a magical creature.

  9. You really need a proper pack for transporting camera gear I think - looking at ebay, there's a lot of nearly new LowePro packs around - the Trekker series. Yes you can spend more, but honestly if it is only for occasional use, get something that is comfy and reasonable and not too heavy - you'll need to do a bit of research on that though. Lowe and Tamrack and Kata make very decent gear.

    We're fortunate up here, not many bikes up green lanes - mountain bikes yes, but not the Gripped? Sorted! brigade (hope you liked The Fast Show).

    Hares are magical and getting really close is very difficult indeed - here's a stupid bit of stuff from a dyed-in-the-wool countryman I knew. To catch a rabbit or hare, you can approach them from behind, and walk slowly and quietly bending your knees like you are walking away. This is because their vision is something like 180 degrees per eye and to them you are moving away. Of course, it helps if you are covered in dung to mask your smell ';0)
    We get a lot of Mountain Hares in the mountains . . .

    1. Oh and frame packs are very comfy, but not quite as user friendly as something with clip buckles - just my experience.



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