For as long as I can remember, there have been two contrasting paths that have occupied my waking and often, my night-time hours. On reflection, the ‘seed’ for changing lanes was planted at a very early age. One path led to widgets and technology – how things work and what they do. Distinctly a trait often found in wee boys and from a tender age, I became adept at taking things apart in an attempt to understand how they work.. I was not however, so adept at putting things back together – something my ever patient father would sigh, raise his eyebrows and gently admonish me for.
The other path started to make its appearance in my early teens – the mid 1970’s. For reasons I can’t recall, I took my first serious look at the photographs my mother took of the family in the 60’s. I remembered some of the events when my mother would get us all to behave (including my father) for a few moments while she fiddled with a small bit of kit that she waved in front of our faces before looking down into a leather bound box and then, at long last, pressing the shutter..
At the time, I had seen plenty of colour photographs but these where in black and white. Something kept me rifling through the box of photos for longer than I expected. No surprise there you might think – these were after all, images of my family. No, there was an unexpected dimension to this – it was though the absence of colour added something. I did not know the meaning of ‘paradox’ then….
As intrigued as I was, the latter day affordability of the hobby limited my options to the acquisition of the redoubtable Zenit E… I managed to subsidise things by developing my own films and those of others but the constant vinegar-like smell of fixer hardly endeared my endeavours to the rest of the family. This, along with plenty of other distractions, meant I was to follow the techy route for the next 40 years during which my ability to put things back together improved…
Wind forward to August 2008. My other half had just finished a gruelling 4-year acupuncture degree. Annya had identified Orkney as a place to holiday and this time, we would be away for two weeks. I must confess my line of thought was: “Orkney. An island. 14 days”. I need not have worried. I could have spent 2 months on the islands and wished to have extended our stay.
After arriving, I made my way to the Ring of Brodgar. It was only a few miles from Stromness and although we had been travelling for nearly 20 hours, the thought of seeing the stone circle was revitalising. The sight of Brodgar was every bit as captivating as I had hoped. 4,000 years of history encapsulated by a ring of huge stones. Just a few metres to the west of the circle, there is a grass covered mound. I had set up the camera there and was simply looking at Brodgar. Beyond it, I could see Maeshowe – another of Orkney’s historical treasures. Some may say it Is fanciful stuff but I am prepared to swear that an inner certainty almost became audible “This is what I want to do”. A later thought was that I was probably perched atop a latter-day bigwig’s tomb and his (or her) ‘inner certainty’ was “I hope this Sassenach gets off my head”.
Changing lanes was not to happen until four years later. The company I worked for needed to trim its sails and before ‘Mr. Timid’ could object, I threw my hat into the ring….
One of the many great things about the changes that have happened is that my interest In technology is still allowed to thrive.. it pervades photography and videography so it would seem there are ways to ‘have your cake and eat it’…