Tag - scotland

My First Book Cover !

That’s my friend Beth Richardson, holding a hot-off-the-press copy of her new book:

Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me: Celtic Prayers. (Learn more about the book: http://celticblessingsbook.com/) Through the pages of Beth’s writing, we’re invited to connect with Celtic practices of gratitude and noticing of blessings in our everyday life. Drawing on her own Celtic heritage, Beth weaves personal story and written blessings into a book you’ll want to have ready for life’s ordinary and extraordinary moments.

…and that’s one of my photos on the cover.

The photo was taken at place on the northern tip of the Isle of Skye in Scotland called “The Quirang” – when Ann and I were there in the fall of 2012.  You can see more of the photos of this spectacular location here, and here’s the original photo:

The Quirang – Isle of Skye Scotland – October 2012

The Quirang – Isle of Skye Scotland – October 2012

The Walter Scott Monument At Night

Ann and I spent two weeks on Scotland in October, 2012.  I put some (like, 700…) of the photos from that trip onto a digital picture frame that sits on the counter in our kitchen.  Lately I’ve been seeing those photos and thinking I need to go through them again, if for no other reason than to share with a Facebook page I contribute to sometimes called “Scotland From The Roadside
This is one of the first photos from the trip, our first night in Edinburgh – The Sir Walter Scott Monument on Princes Street:

Sir Walter Scott Monument – Princes Street, Edinburgh, Scotland
@edinspotlight @historicscotland @welovehistory @visitscotland @GreatBritain @TwitterUK #scotland #edinburgh #travel #midlothian
©2015 paul@cohesionarts.com aka @driver49

Urquhart Castle The “Watercolor” Version

I have been experimenting with some new software that lets me take the hard, realistic quality of a photographic and render it into something a bit softer and more impressionistic – like, in this case, a watercolor painting.


This is image is based on one of the photos I shot as we approached Urquhart Castle, an enormous medieval ruin on the shores of Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands.  The original photo is here. <

I like this one better (the cropping helps, too). Yesterday I couldn’t spell “artist” and today I are one…

@historicscotland @getolympus @visitscotland @GreatBritain @TwitterUKUrquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness near #Inverness —

#Medieval #medievaleurope #instatravel #travelgram #photooftheday #thebest_capture #ig_masterpiece #nuriss_tag #awe_inspiringshots #pro_ig #global_highlights #igworldclub #ig_select #editoftheday #capture_today #waycoolshots #ig_masterpiece #picoftheday #instadaily #bestoftheday

These Ruins Are Forever

Yet another attempt to come to grips with my “ruin lust,” this time in the form of a “graphic meme” that I posted to Instagram:

These Ruins…they last forever, yet serve as a testament to what does not endure. – Kinloss Abbey, Scottish Highlands – October 2012@Glasgow @Dumfries @AberdeenAngusUK @KingdomOfFife @historicscotland @welovehistory @visitscotland @GreatBritain @TwitterUK #glasgow #dumfries #aberdeen
I’ll he returning to the UK Oct 8-22, #Glasgow, #Dumfries, #KingdomOfFife #AberdeenAngusUK, then…?? Looking to make new friends and contacts, open to ideas for photo destinations re: historic sites, #castles, #abbeys, and above all #ruins Please DM with ideas/suggestions or #follow @driver49. CYA in October?
@getolympus #rainbow #photooftheday #thebest_capture #ig_masterpiece #nuriss_tag #awe_inspiringshots #pro_ig #global_highlights #igworldclub #ig_select #editoftheday #capture_today #waycoolshots #featuremeinstagood #ig_masterpiece #ig_great_pics
©2014 paul@cohesionarts.com aka @driver49

The Old Dead and The New Dead

The Old Dead and the New Dead – Kinloss Abbey, Scottish Highlands – October 2012
I have been posting images from my two recent (2012 with Ann, 2013 by myself) trips to the United Kingdom, experimenting with Instagram/Twitter hashtags to see the posts might lead to some new contacts and or friends when I return later this year.   So far…. not so much.
This is the ruin of Kinloss Abbey on the northeast coast of Scotland.  Ann and  I found it by accident in the fall of 2012.  We’d been to the top of Cairngorm Mountain via the “Funicular Railway” (Google it), didn’t find it all that interesting (might have had something to do with the sub-freezing temperatures and the fact that they didn’t let you out of the visitor center…), so we came back down and just started driving around.  We made it as far as the village of Lossiemouth, and found Kinloss on our way back to the B&B where we were staying in Aviemore.

@Glasgow @Dumfries @AberdeenAngusUK @KingdomOfFife @historicscotland @welovehistory @visitscotland @GreatBritain @TwitterUK #glasgow #dumfries #aberdeen
I’ll he returning to the UK Oct 8-22, #Glasgow, #Dumfries, #KingdomOfFife #AberdeenAngusUK, then…?? Looking to make new friends and contacts, open to ideas for photo destinations re: historic sites, #castles, #abbeys, and above all #ruins Please DM with ideas/suggestions or #follow @driver49. CYA in October?
@getolympus #rainbow #photooftheday #thebest_capture #ig_masterpiece #nuriss_tag #awe_inspiringshots #pro_ig #global_highlights #igworldclub #ig_select #editoftheday #capture_today #waycoolshots #featuremeinstagood #ig_masterpiece #ig_great_pics
©2014 paul@cohesionarts.com aka @driver49

New “Portals of Stone” For Your Desktop : Beauly Priory

Follow this link to get “Beauly Starscape” for your computer desktop.

Regular visitors to this site will recognize Beauly Priory as the place where, in a real sense, this whole “Portals of Stone” business got started.

Beauly Priory - a small abbey ruin on the Black Isle near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands

Beauly Priory – a small abbey ruin on the Black Isle near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands

It has been almost a year since I’ve created a new “Portals” piece. For much of that time, I’ve been scanning my photo libraries looking for suitable candidates for the “Portals” treatment.  I noticed this shot from our (brief) stop at Beauly during our trip to Scotland  in the fall of 2012 several months ago and have had it on my “to-do” list ever since.

I finally got around to it this past weekend. and after struggling through re-learning all the software that I need to create these images, I finally came up with the image above.

It’s actually quite fitting that I finally got around to creating a new “Portals” piece over this past weekend, and very much in keeping with the “coming full circle” quality of this particular experience: I’ve been thinking seriously about it for several weeks, and two days after creating and posting this, I booked flights to return to the UK for the singular purpose of expanding on this theme and growing the catalog.

I did not know that I would be creating the “Portals of Stone” series until several weeks after I  returned from my Celctic Pilgrimage to the UK in the spring of 2013. And now that the idea has taken root (and seems to be spreading some), I’ve been jonesing to back to that part of the world with that specific purpose in mind.

So come October 7, I’ll be returning to the UK for two weeks. I’ll be flying into Glasgow to see the Cathedral there, which is one of the more spectacular creations of this kind of architectural still standing intact in the UK (so many others were destroyed in the wake of the Dissolution).

From Glasgow I will be heading into Dumfries/Galloway to see (at least) the ruins of Sweetheart Abbey and Caerlaverock Castle, and then I’ll head east to Aberdeen to see St. Andrews Cathedral and Dunnottar Castle.  After that, I’m not sure.  I might even hop over to Tipperary, Ireland to see the Rock of Cashel.

I mention all this because, after I post this download, I suspect it’s going to travel some.  If you’re a new visitor to this site and perhaps live anywhere near the areas I’ve just described, please get in touch with me, perhaps I can visit and avail myself to some of your local knowledge.

 

Portals of Stone: The 2014 Calendar Version

And now, a bit of shameless self promotion:

28_back_coverYou do know that there’s a new year starting in a few weeks, right?

But… how will you know for sure unless you have a colorful calendar on your wall that reminds you of the fact every 30 days or so?

Oh, sure, that digital thing in your pocket will keep you up to date well enough.  But where’s the fun in that.  It’s so… one dimensional!

Consider, on the other hand, the three-dimensional, time-warping qualities of these images:

First, they will help you identify the present date.  Sure, any calendar can do that, but these calendars also…

…Transport your imagination into a time in the not so distant past (i.e. centuries, not millennia) when great edifices were carved from stone, by hand, and constructed over several decades.  Many of which lie in ruin today…

…and through which you are transported into the cosmos and offered a glimpse of the vastness of space and time – in the form of starlight that left its source millions of years ago…as captured by a giant camera/telescope suspended in orbit around the earth.

The images are “Portals of Stone” – rendered in ink, on card stock… a new “portal” every month through the new year.

Just follow the link to see more at…

PORTALSOFSTONE.COM

or follow this easy PayPal button to order yours today:



A Year of Living

Last Friday – my 63rd birthday – I re-posted (with some minor edits) the short essay I wrote on the occasion of my 62nd birthday.  It was about turning 62 – the age at which my brother had died in 2011 – and the quest to outlive him numerically by turning 63.

That post ends with:

There is much more to that challenge than simply lasting the year.

I’ve got some living to do.

Seeing that line again for the first time in a year caught me up short.  It made me wonder: Had I lived up to my own challenge over the past 12 months?

Or had I just gone on with my desultory day to day existence, squeezing nothing more out of my continued presence here on earth than the consumption of natural resources and the production of bodily wastes?

And then I remembered this photo:

Melrose Abbey - Scotland

That’s me, seated on a bench before the south elevation of Melrose Abbey in the borders region of Scotland.

For so many reasons, that photo answers the question.

I may not have lived entirely up to whatever potential I have had languishing here for the past several years (like, since Book Two went off the rails), but I think I can say that I certainly made some effort, and have some results to show for it.

I mean, I’m pretty pleased with the whole “Portals of Stone” collection that came out of that trip to England and Scotland last spring.  I had my first “art show” this fall, and now the whole collection is hanging in an actual art gallery in East Nashville.  And I got a check in the mail for one of the pieces last week.  Eat your heart out, Van Gogh…

Probably more important than any of that is just the fact that I made the effort.  That I saw an opportunity and I grabbed it, and the result was as satisfying and meaningful a two-weeks as I can recall in my life.

I still can’t quite put my finger on what draws me to these medieval ruins, although I can say that the unexpected result – the Portals of Stone – that came out of that trip is maybe the most creative expression I’ve had since… well, maybe since I finished/published Book One – and that’s going back to 2002.  Certainly the most creative visual expression in like… ever.  I mean, hey, I was 62 years old and for the first time in my life I came up with something that somebody else – actually a couple of somebody elses who have authority in such things  – considered “art.”

So, yeah. That happened.

And now the same gauntlet is thrown for Year 64.

Cue the Beatles:


Beatles – When I’m Sixty-Four by hushhush112

Rosslyn at Dawn

I’ve been in Scotland for a week.  I haven’t spent nearly as much time sorting and editing as I have shooting, but some of what I’ve got to show for my presence you can see here.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Rosslyn Chapel at Dawn

Rosslyn Chapel at Dawn

Photographers live for about four hours every day: the two hours on either side of sunrise and sunset.  That’s the best natural light of the day.  The rest of the day is for location scouting (or so I’ve been told).

Somebody asked me once, “which do you prefer, sunrise or sunset?”  To which I replied, “well, I’m usually awake by sunset…”

And that has been the case so far on this expedition.  Despite my best intentions, I’ve slept through every sunrise.  That might have something to do with fact that the sun sets at this latitude at about 9:30 PM, and the twilight lingers until nearly 11.  And  I’ve been out every evening photographing something at sunset, though the actual sun has been mostly obscured by clouds.

After that, you get back to your room, download the memory card, sort the photos and edit a few, and by the time you start nodding out it’s 1:30 AM.  Not exactly conducive to starting again at 3:30 (since the sunrises at about 4:30…).

Tweed River Valley btw Melrose and Rosslyn

Tweed River Valley btw Melrose and Rosslyn

Yesterday I made the short – and lovely – drive from Melrose to Rosslyn, which is my whole reason for being here in the first place.  And last night I went out again at sunset and looked for something to shoot at the end of the first completely sunny day I’ve had all week.  After that, same drill… fell asleep at the keyboard about 1AM…

But this morning something very different happened: I woke up and saw the moon setting in a perfectly clear sky outside my window.  I looked at the time on my iPhone: 4:24.  Like an idiot I tried to go back to sleep.

But whatever higher power brought me here intervened.

Despite my best efforts to go back to sleep, that was not gonna happen.

In the absence of sleep I opened Google Earth on my iPad (there was just enough signal to get a view) and entered the coordinates for Rosslyn Chapel, which is about 2-1/2 miles from the b&b where I’m staying.  From the map I could see there is a road that goes past the chapel to the edge of a field on the eastern side.  From paintings and photos I’ve seen from that angle, I knew there was some kind of meadow on that side of the chapel.

I threw on some clothes and was there by 5:30, just as the sun was peaking over the hills.

Medieval churches, chapels, and abbeys were typically laid out so that the altar – and the grand windows above it – face east, so that the rising sun can remind worshipers of the Resurrection (note to fundamentalist Christians: you do know that Muslims face east for their prayers, too, right?).

The  combination clear sky and the rising sun meant that the best natural light I’ve seen all week was shining down on the nearly 600-year-old of east facade of the Rosslyn Chapel just as I was getting my tripod set up.

Left to my own devices, I might have slept right through it.  But I swear, some power better than myself hauled me out of bed, threw clothes on me, and steered my rent-a-car through the pre-dawn light to get these photos.

Now, behold the majesty of 15th Century architecture:

Rosslyn Chapel at Dawn

Rosslyn Chapel at Dawn

 

I’ve had good moments and bad moments on this trip.  The good ones are usually after I’ve been shooting for several hours, and I’ve taken the time to marvel at the fact that I am even here, doing this extraordinary thing.  The bad ones are after I’ve sat at the computer with the results from the day and thought “oh crap, I missed that… shoulda framed that differently… oh, look at THAT… that I didn’t quite get in the frame…”  etc. etc.  All common photographers’ laments.

But today, I can take some solace in the knowledge that however else the rest of the day goes, I got this part right:

Detail of the East Facade of the Rosslyn Chapel

Detail of the East Facade of the Rosslyn Chapel

 

But only because that Higher Power would not leave me to my own devices and let me sleep through the dawn.

I wish I could remember now who was it who said, “you do the work… and the inspiration takes care of itself…”

 

T-Minus 1 – How The Return To Scotland Came About

This is the third installment of a series on how my trip to Scotland / England came about.  The first installment is here, the second installment (a bit of a sidebar) is here.

Listen to John Doan’s harp guitar while reading this post:

Now, where was I? Oh yeah….

One of the most stunning places we visited in Scotland last October is a small church several miles outside of Edinburgh called the Rosslyn Chapel.

Rosslyn Chapel ©2012 paul@cohesionarts.com

Rosslyn Chapel ©2012 paul@cohesionarts.com

If you’ve read “The DaVinci Code” or seen the movie, you might recognize the name.  Dan Brown wrote the last scene of that story at the Rosslyn Chapel. The bones of Mary Magdalen – the real “Holy Grail” as portrayed in the novel – supposedly having been hidden there, in a a secret crypt concealed under the foundation of the chapel when it was built during 15th century.

We almost didn’t go to Rosslyn.  When it was first suggested to us, I looked it up on the web and the first thing I noticed on the website was

Please note that there is no photography or video allowed inside Rosslyn Chapel.

And when I read that I thought to myself, “well, that’s a deal breaker….”

But I talked it over with Ann and we agreed that it would be worth seeing even we couldn’t take pictures inside.  We figured it in to the itinerary for the last full day of our  trip, when we would be back in Edinburgh for two nights and still have the rental car at our disposal.

So on morning of the last day of our tour of Scotland, we ventured out of Edinburgh about 7 miles south to the village of Rosslyn.

And yes, the interior of Rosslyn Chapel is truly extraordinary.  Nearly every surface is adorned with detailed masonry carvings depicting the history of the area, the chapel’s founders and builders, or a passage from the Bible, all rendered by the most skilled stone masons of the 15th century.

Entrance to the Rosslyn Chapel - ©2012 paul@cohesionarts.com

Gargoyles guarding the entrance to the Rosslyn Chapel – ©2012 ann@cohesionarts.com

In the centuries since its construction, the tiny Chapel as been through all kinds of depredations, from serving as stable for Cromwell’s cavalry in the 17th century to an ill conceived conservation effort in the mid-20th century that coated all the  carvings with an impermeable layer of magnesium fluoride that trapped moisture inside the stone.   Just about the time that The DaVinci Code was released, the Sinclair family that owns the chapel and surrounding estate embarked on a more enlightened course of preservation, and now, in the wake of the novel and the movie, the Rosslyn Chapel is among the most popular tourist destinations in all of Great Britain.

Ann and I spent most of the morning of our last full day in Scotland there.   We made a lot of photographs of the exterior, and spent enough time inside to come out pretty well awed at what we’d seen.  But, per the rules, no photos of the interior.

– – – – – – – –

John Doan

John Doan

Fast forward now to  January 28th, when I received an e-mail from a musician named  John Doan.  John is is primarily a harp guitarist; his home base is Salem, Oregon.

If you’re not familiar with it, the harp guitar is an instrument that starts as a guitar, but is embellished with an extension of the body of the guitar  that supports some number of open, unfretted strings, usually bass notes, that are plucked separately in the same manner that the strings of a harp are plucked.   John Doan typically plays a variation of the harp guitar that includes a further set of “super treble” notes that are strung musically above (physically below) the 6 guitar strings.

I can’t recall now when I first discovered John Doan’s recordings, most of which I purchased via iTunes during the period when I was still paying for downloads (which I rarely do now, with the advent of streaming subscription services like Spotify).  But since I first discovered him I have been an avid fan of his Celtic-infused, sonically rich recordings that evoke the spirit of the islands with which I am so enamored.  I met John briefly once, at an annual event called “The Harp Guitar Gathering” when it was held in Indianapolis in the fall of 2010.  That’s probably when I put myself on his mailing list.

So I get this e-mail from John Doan in late January.  And after the usual “this is what I’m up to…” stuff, I scanned his tour itinerary at the bottom of the message.  And that’s where I saw:

May 26: Rosslyn Chapel, Scotland

Whoa.  Did I read that right? A concert inside the Rosslyn Chapel??

I quickly fired an e-mail back to John.

Can you use a roadie/photographer on these gigs?

I need an excuse to go back to Britain this spring…

Where “back to Britain” was a link to the site were I was gathering and displaying our photos from the trip in October.

John’s reply to that was pretty non-committal, but the more I thought about it, the more intrigued I became about the proposition, so I sent another message:

Please forgive the quick “need a roadie?” message that I sent earlier
today.

This time… I think I’m serious….

..after which wheels started turning…

Long story short: I’m leaving tomorrow afternoon, and will meet up with John and his entourage of wandering minstrels a week from today at Rosslyn.  And I will have permission to photograph his concert inside the Rosslyn Chapel.

Two weeks ago Ann and I encountered a Scottish photographer a the TACA Arts & Crafts fair here in Nashville.  We got to talking, and I told him that I would be going to Scotland soon, and that I’d be photographing inside the Rosslyn Chapel.

“That’s forbidden!” he said.

Yes, it is. But I’ve got special dispensation.

And that’s why I’m going back to Scotland tomorrow.

Rosslyn Chapel - a Victorian-era carving over the North Entrance ©2012paul@cohesionarts.com

Rosslyn Chapel – a Victorian-era carving over the North Entrance ©2012paul@cohesionarts.com