A few weeks ago on a lovely, bright Scottish morning my Auntie and I climbed to the top of Berwick Law. I just received my scans back from that day and I'm really happy with how they've turned out. They are a mix of Portra 400 shot using my Mamiya 645 Pro and Ektar 100 with my Contax T2. It was my first time shooting medium format and also my first using these cameras and film stocks. I'm really loving the results. Anyway, here's the first picture. It's probably the weakest of the bunch but I liked the way the sun glistened off this pool of water, sort of looks like an infinity pool.
On the north side, just before you reach the summit, lies the ruin of a watch-house from the Napoleonic Wars. Soldiers situated here would light a fire whenever they saw French ships trying to enter the Firth of Forth. The Law has a long history of being used as a lookout.
The views from the summit, especially on a morning like this one, are beautiful. This image shows the majority of North Berwick and its lovely coastline. The island to the left is named Fidra (from the Norse for "feather island"), and it is claimed that Robert Louis Stevenson based his map of "Treasure Island" on it. A similar claim is made about Unst in Shetland. I guess we'll never know for sure, but what we do know is that he mentioned Fidra in his book "Catriona" and often spent time on the beaches which overlook the island.
The smaller island to the right is known as The Lamb and is flanked by two skerries (a skerry is a small rocky island too small for habitation), and they are referred to as North and South Dog respectively. Bizarrely, it was bought by serial cutlery destroyer Uri Geller in 2009 because he believed it contained ancient Egyptian treasure.
There are four islands off the coast of North Berwick, two of which I talked about already. Collectively they are known as the East Lothian Emeralds. The third island in the chain of four is called Craigleith. It was once a rabbit warren, which is a series of connected underground tunnels occupied by rabbits, until myxomatosis wiped out the population in the 1950s. Apparently, rabbits have since been spotted there after being mysteriously reintroduced.
One of the things I tried to capture with these images is the man-made patterns of the residential areas and I think this one in particular showcases that well.
My eyes always seem to be drawn to curves and in this instance they were drawn to how the houses curve round gently and lead the eye towards the Bass Rock. Bass Rock is the fourth and final island off the coast of North Berwick. On the island you'll find the ruins of both a castle and a chapel, a lighthouse, and roughly 150,000 gannets. It is the largest single rock gannetry in the world and that very fact is the reason why large parts of the rock look white from a distance. Its lighthouse was constructed by David Stevenson, cousin of author Robert Louis Stevenson. The Bass has a rich history for such a small island and has been used as a prison at various different times. The history books also say that the first inhabitant of the island was a Christian hermit named Baldred who died around 606 AD. A fact that I find hard to get my head around.
A nice shot of my Auntie looking out to the Bass Rock.
I wasn't sure whether or not I should post this one but I wanted to show a view from the summit facing south. In person the way the light was hitting off the perfectly cut straight lines of farmland was stunning but I'm not sure I managed to capture that. Also, due to somewhat limited space (falling to my death didn't really appeal to me) I struggled to get the framing the way I wanted.
On the way back down I swapped my Mamiya 645 for my Contax T2 loaded with Ektar. The first shot I took was of this rather nicely placed bench that's just over halfway up the Law.
A few seconds after I took this picture of my Auntie I lost my footing and duly rolled down the next part of the hill. My falling technique solely revolved around not smashing my Contax T2 off the ground after only taking two pictures with it, and luckily, I succeeded!
On our way back down we spotted the string of wild Exmoor ponies that graze on and around Berwick Law. I didn't count at the time but I've since read that there are seven of them and they are named Sherlock, Clouseau, Morse, Inspector Gadget, Artemis, Rebel and Oberon, respectively. They were brought to the area as part of a conservation grazing effort to help deal with the overgrowth of coarse grasses and gorse.
Exmoor ponies nearly became extinct after the second world war due to soldiers using them for target practice and some people killing them for their meat. At one point only 50 registered mares and 4 stallions remained but luckily they managed to recover and as of 2010 there were an estimated 800 Exmoor ponies worldwide.
And just like that they were on their way. I'd like to go back and dedicate some time solely to photographing them as I think I can do much better, but it was still a nice surprise having them wander by.
Managed to take a picture of my Auntie just as she walked through this little tree archway. Love the forest green of the trees in the distance.
I quite enjoy minimal landscapes like this one.
This is the last photo from my Berwick Law set and possibly one of my favourites from the day. It is exactly the image I saw in my head and it really shows what a spectacular camera the Contax T2 is. Speaking of which, aside from this shot and a couple of others, I don't think I did the camera justice. After using the Mamiya 645 at the summit my mind was still in that mode so I ended up metering for nearby shadows with the Contax by half pressing the shutter totally forgetting that doing so locks the focus. I think shooting at f8 saved me a bit but it wasn't ideal. The good thing about making dumb mistakes like these are that you feel like such an idiot afterwards that you won't ever make them again. My next blog showcases the Contax T2 way better and I'm looking forward to sharing it.