A few days ago, the weather man came on the television looking particularly pleased with himself and announced that there were to be a couple of superb days of almost universal sunshine before we sink yet further into Autumn.
One of the many great things about being immeasurably old and working for oneself is that we can take advantage of such ‘unrepeatable offers’ at a moment’s notice! So we did just that . . . shooting off to Pembrokeshire for ANOTHER couple of nights!
When strong sun in a blue sky makes a rare appearance this late in the year, one is in for a real treat in this part of Wales for its low angle can make for dramatic effects.
On our first day we went to Solva and stood on the cliff overlooking the sound from which so many families from all over Great Britain would, in those early days, have started on their terrifying journey under sail to make their fortune in the New World.
On the second day we went to the “Deer Park” (there never were any apparently) which is the cliff-bound promontory that reaches out to the island of Skomer. It is, for me, one of the most utterly beautiful places in the world.
On previous visits we have seen seals at this time of the year but this time was beyond everything. I am hereby rushing onto the blog a number of nice ones but I have to warn the world that I took about 240 photos altogether so I shall have to think of ways to ‘presenting’ them!
To be technical, I was on top of a cliff looking down at the happenings below with a rather standard telephoto lens at full stretch pointing downwards. There was another chap with a monstrous lens with which he could probably study belly buttons but I was more than happy with what I got, especially as I did not have a tripod.
Before anybody starts suggesting that I must have put these shots through the gismo in Photoshop that makes everything look like an oil painting, I must stress that I have done NOTHING with them except crop and enlarge. The incredible effects in the water (which have made me drool with pleasure) were simply what was there for the photographing – because of the low sun, the broken surface of the water and (where it goes dark blue and brown) the shadow of the cliff itself and, of course, the utterly delightful cast of seals. There were the dads keeping solemn watch from afar and there were the newborns laid out on the beach and crying (very humanly) until they were fed. In between there were the (presumably) mothers giving the youngsters swimming lessons and the youngsters having an absolute whale (or seal!) of a time.
Although it is very early days, I cannot let pass this perfect opportunity to mention the fact that, way over the water in Carbondale, Illinois, our good friend the artist Michael Onken (who comes to Scotland, the Orkneys especially, at least once a year, to keep his artistic juices flowing) is busy making images of Selkies in lino and engraved wood which are to go in a future OSP book. We are more than usually excited about this one for its text is a ‘play for voices’ called The Girl from the Sea, by George Mackay Brown, performed once but unpublished in his lifetime. There will be time enough to say more about this lovely project when it comes a little closer but, meanwhile, here is a treat in the form of Michael’s Selkie studies.