Monthly Archives: May 2013

First Picture Mount Made

Keencut Ultimat

After attending a 1 day framing course a couple of months ago I bought a Keencut Ultimat mount cutter to make my own bevelled edge mounts. Today I cut my first few conservation quality mounts and used them for some of the pictures from my recent Scotland trip. I am really pleased with the result and can now cut mounts to exactly the size that I want. It also brings down the cost of a mounted print.




Although it is not rocket science it is not as simple as it first seems. I have a few tips for anyone thinking of doing this too:

  1. Make sure your hands are really clean and dry before you handle the mount board.
  2. Calculate your measurements carefully, check them until you’re absolutely certain you got it right and then check them again.
  3. Don’t try to save on blades. They need to be really sharp and a piece of mount board ruined by using a blunt blade costs more than a few blades.
  4. Don’t be in a rush. If you’re not sure you have enough time for a job, don’t start it.
  5. Don’t forget to make sure the correct side of the board is facing upwards before cutting.

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Gairsay In The Spotlight


Gairsay In The Spotlight

Gairsay In The Spotlight

We had a fantastic view from our rented house on Orkney. One early evening it was getting very dark, as if the heavens would open imminently. Then, suddenly, the island of Gairsay was hit by the sun while the rest of the landscape and sky remained dark and gloomy. It only lasted a few seconds, but fortunately I had my camera to hand.

I took the shot from inside, so I had to remove a few minor reflections in the window and also took out some telephone lines. I have no objection to anybody creating a better image using the tools we now have available, as long as they are honest and up front about it. If you make major alterations to an image without explicitly stating it, I think you are deceiving the viewer. This is a well rehearsed discussion in photography and I may come back to it in a future post.


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Rocks On The Beach

Composition With Three Rocks

I am going through the photos I made in Scotland over the previous two weeks and finding merit in some of the less spectacular more contemplative images. These two are good examples of my ‘style’: strong compositions, uncluttered and simple. I like to give the viewer space to create their own interpretation, find things in the image and make up their own stories. These images were made on the beach at Durness in the very northwest corner of Scotland, near Cape Wrath.


It is full of Viking history there. I learned that the name Cape Wrath has nothing to do with angry seas, but that ‘wrath’ is an Old Norse word for ‘turning point.’ I imagined that this rock was there in the time of the Vikings, when they would haul their boats into the Smoo Caves, just a mile further east from this beach. It was keeping a lookout, warning the locals when the Vikings would come to rape and pillage.

Limited edition copies of these images, and many others, will be available as 30 x 20cm mounted prints at the reduced price of £29 on the Castlefield Artisan Market on Sunday 26 May.


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Ruud’s Eye At Castlefield Artisan Market

Manchester town Hall Porch

Manchester town Hall Porch

Starting from Sunday 26 May I will have a stall at the Artisan Market that is held in Castlefield every Sunday. There are more than 50 stalls and there is music too! You can see the work of many artists and talk to them about it. About half of the stalls sell food and there is an outside terrace too, so no need to go hungry or thirsty. There is a great variety of stalls and you can buy clothes, bread, woodwork, exotic spices, honey, bric-a-brac, pastry, chocolate and, of course fantastic photographic prints (and I am not just talking about mine!)

Please come and see my work, have a chat and maybe buy a print, framed or mounted, for that space on your wall, or as a great original present.







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Mid Howe Cairn

On our last full day on Orkney we took the ferry to Rousay, a small island with about 200 inhabitants. Like most places in the Orkneys this island is littered with neolithic sites. One of those is the famous Mid Howe Cairn, a burial site created about 3,000 BC. It has a central passageway with 12 ‘stalls’ used to create separate space for storing the bones that were left after the corpse of the deceased was left outside for the animals and elements to strip away the flesh.

The whole cairn is covered over to protect it. A viewing gallery has been built, so that visitors can walk above the cairn and look down into the central passageway.







View From Mid Howe Broch

Right next to the cairn is a much younger structure: Mid Howe Broch. A broch is a round tower that served as a dwelling. It was built around the 1st century AD, probably for a powerful local family. Inside it is surprisingly sophisticated with separate rooms and storage areas. Therre was probably a wooden structure that held up two floors and may have been used for dried meat and fish.

They chose a place with a good view of the Eynhallow Sound with its treacherous currents. It was a strategic position as enemies would have to sail up through these waters.




Dry Stone Wall On Rousay

There were a lot of sheep in the fields of Rousay and the dry stone walls kept the herds apart. There was also a lot of wildlife: we saw lots of seals, a hen harrier, some hares, cormorants, fulmars, etc.







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Highland Park & Yesnaby

Peat Fire

Yesterday Fred and I paid a visit to the Highland Park distillery yesterday. The tour was interesting because it included the maltings that are still used on the premises. The peat and coal fires provided some welcome warmth on a cold day (no snow like in some parts of England though!) The malt is dried in two stages: first a few hours above this peat fire, which infuses the malt with a lovely peaty smokiness, and then above a hotter coal fire. The peat comes from fields in Orkney, owned by the distillery. They estimate that they will have enough peat for another 250 years of distilling.





Cliffs At Yesnaby

Today we went to the west coast at Yesnaby. The wind was not particularly fierce, so when it really storms it will be spectacular here.







Castle At Yesnaby

The coast at Yesnaby is constantly battered by the waves. The gateway through the cliffs, called ‘The Castle’, looks like an Egyptian, female head from this angle. Like a portrait of Nefertiti.

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Stone Of Stenness

Stone Of Stenness

Standing stone circles and a burial chamber were the sites we visited today (the beer brewery was not open to the public on Mondays. The first monument we visited were the Stones of Stenness and then we went on to the Ring of Brodgar.











The Ring of Brodgar is a very impressive neolithic monument on Mainland, Orkney. It was created about 5,000 years ago and is much older than Stonehenge. It is calculated that it took about 50,000 man hours to construct.

Ring Of Brodgar

Ring Of Brodgar

Inside Maes Howe

We then went to Maes Howe, which provided shelter from the rain. The slabs of Soft Red Sandstone were ubiquitous on Orkney at the time Maes Howe was built. They are good building material as they are relatively soft stone and comes out of the soil in large square slabs, as can be seen in the south wall of the central chamber.












The rain started at about 13:00 and gradually became worse, so the afternoon was spent looking at the hares outside the conservatory of the house we are staying in.








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Remains Of A Shipwreck

After a calm crossing we arrived on Mainland, Orkney yesterday. Very different from the mountainous splendour of west coast Sutherland, but also very beautiful, with big skies and wonderful light. Today we explored a bit of the north west coast and visited Skara Brae.

There are many ships wrecked, sunk or scuttled around the coast of Mainland, Orkney. This is part of the boiler of one of them, in a bay south of Kitchener’s memorial (visible in the background.) It could even be part of the ship on which he was killed when it hit a mine just off the coast here.








Looking Back

This Grey Seal was having a snooze on the rocks before it spotted my inept attempt at sneaking up on it.








Stone Age Home

Skara Brae is a must visit destination for anybody vaguely interested in pre-history.

In 1850 severe storm exposed the entrance to a neolithic home located in the dunes of the west coast of Mainland, Orkney. Subsequent excavations unearthed a small village where between 50 to 100 people lived in about 3100 BC. We learned that these people led much less primitive lives than we assumed. They had beds, storage areas, they used decorated pottery and created jrwellery and beautiful stone artifacts.

This is a replica of one of the houses of Skara Brae.

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Reflections On Loch Assynt

Loch Assynt Reflection 2

Driving along Loch Assynt, on the way to a short walk, I saw that the surface of the Loch was like a mirror. A few miles further were the small islands with trees that reflected beautifully.







Loch Assynt Reflection









Pair Of Golden Eagles

During a boat trip on Loch Glencoul we were lucky enough to spot a pair of Golden Eagles. This shot is obviously cropped significantly as even a 400mm tele-lens cannot get them close enough when they are soaring a few hundred feet up in the air. The smaller one (female?) was missing a few significant flight feathers. I am not sure if this was normal or the result of illness or injury.








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Majestic Skies & Mountains

Stoer Head Lighthouse

We were lucky again, with some magnificent weather today, much better than forecast. As rain was forecast we decided on a drive to Lochinver via a nice looking road to Drumbeg and the Stoer Head lighthouse. The walk to The Old Man was a bit too long and close to the cliff edge for Di, so I went up the path a short way to get this view. Harris and Lewis are faintly visible on the horizon. No whales or dolphins were spotted this morning, just a few seals.






Somewhere south of Lochinver amid a myriad of little streams, lochs and impressive mountains is this little waterfall.








Sky Above Assynt

There were some impressive skyscapes today. I think the middle one of the mountains on the horizon is Assynt, but I don’t know the names of the other peaks. If you do, please let me know.







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