orkney camera amateurism


I must confess, I am not O Street’s finest photographer. In fact I am really shit. Since a student I have been told all about f-stops and shutter speeds, but it’s gone in one ear and out my arse. Every time I pick up a camera it’s like my first time. I am not proud of this, in fact good photography skills is something we look for when recruiting designers.

Last week I was on a trip to Orkney as part of a research project I am working on with the Glasgow School of Art’s Institute of Design Innovation and I really, really needed to take photos of the people we were speaking to.

I rather sheepishly asked Ed if I could take the studio camera. ‘Sure’ he said, ‘no problem’. Well that’s where he was wrong, there was a big problem, I didn’t know how to use the bloody thing. I thought I could bluff it on auto mode, but all my shots came out with a blue tinge and that really cool blurry background thing I always ask other photographers to do for me didn’t work.

I did eventually throw in the towel and phone Ed, ‘Can you tell me how to work this camera man?’ he laughed. He talked me through it while I played around with the buttons and dials in a pub, I mean café. Here is my finest mastery of the blurry background thing (depth of field!), its an empty chair in the pub …café, and that’s where I peaked at that particular technique.

What does help however is stunning things to take photos off, and that certainly wasn’t lacking in Orkney, it even looks like I did that lens flare effect on purpose (*ahem).

The killer shot was at the end of the trip, the view from the top of the hill of the island of Hoy and the lighthouse just as the last of the sunshine was breaking through the clouds in what my grandfather once called ‘foal’s legs’. I needed to charge the battery though as it was really low. I plugged the charger into a socket in the office we had commandeered… damn the socket didn’t work! I yanked it out and the top pin of the plug snapped off. It looked quite funny, I picked up the camera to take a photo of it, but the little screen at the back said ‘Camera Battery Exhausted’.

…me too! (Here is quite a nice shot I fluked earlier in the trip instead)