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Discovering beauty in a 50mph northerly

Days seem like weeks when you are a child, and months appear as years. Yet as we get older time will insist on flying by at ever greater speeds. So when I am in the Scottish Highlands, far from home, I endeavour to make as much as possible out of every day, whatever the weather. It's noteworthy too that some of my favourite photographs were made on days when the weather laid down a challenge and my first inclination was to stay by the fireside. So as long as it is safe to head out, then I will, however ferocious the weather.

One of the most pleasing developments to have an impact on my photography in recent years is the increased accuracy of the weather forecast. Even in the North West Highlands, where the maritime and mountain climate combines to make long-term predictions largely irrelevant, the short-term forecast over 24 hours is steadily improving.

There's a flip side of course. When I check the updates in the evening and it warns that a 50mph northerly is on its way, then the meteorologists can sit smugly in their air-conditioned offices knowing with some confidence that I will be out battling vast hefts of wind the following day. Which is exactly what happened when I made the photograph alongside. As predicted, the wind began arguing during the night and by the morning it was hitting every one of the 50mph that the Met Office promised it would. But for all its bluster, at least it was a steady wind, without any knock-you-over gusts, and I decided it was safe to venture outdoors.

I'm often tempted to think hard how I feel about being out in such a dramatic and powerful landscapes such as the North West Highlands of Scotland. I'll reflect on the sculptural beauty of the mountains and their significant role within geological time. On the heady days there's even great thoughts about the spiritual quality within them. But not this day. When the picture here was made it was one of those Highland days when the wind cut through the air like a scythe and left no room for any thoughts at all, other than how to get out of it. Shelter came, as it often does, in woodland. I put my back to the scaly bark of a substantial Scots pine and looked down at the dazzling mosses that greened the forest floor.

Partly through a desire to follow a path less travelled, the subjects I choose to photograph are often the ones that others will walk past. I sense that what some think of as mundane actually has the potential to be marvellous, and in the soft light and the morning dew upon the mosses, here were living jewels. Photographs can have an emotional significance for the person who makes them. For me this picture speaks not only of the elegant design within nature, but it also makes me appreciate how wealthy I am to have such riches to work with. Even on days of 50mph northerlies, it's good to be reminded of how beautiful the natural world can be.

Discovering beauty in a 50mph northerly

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