Near and Far

Near to where we live in Inverness is the Caledonian Canal – it’s about a five minute walk heading west from our front door. Alternatively, a ten minute walk heading east brings me to the River Ness. A pleasant half-hour walk heading north along the canal takes me to the Beauly Firth, while a half-hour walk heading south along either the canal or the river to the edge of town brings me to a narrow strip of land where I can easily see both the canal on one side of me and the river on the other. So luckily for me, in whichever direction I choose to walk when leaving our house, at least one body of water is never far away 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Near/ Far

Into the Sun

My phone takes perfectly decent photographs for general use – I mean, I know my camera takes technically ‘better’ pictures, bigger sensor, bigger lens, better light intake, more pixels. So usually for ‘proper’ photographs I prefer to use my ‘proper’ camera.

But sometimes, to my surprise, I actually prefer the less than perfect images produced by my phone, especially when looking into the sun. The limited light coming in to the limited sensor can create a much darker, moody image than the more visually balanced ‘correct’ version made by my camera, and I really like the way the increased highlights and low-lights give an altogether more dramatic effect that captures far more accurately how I’m feeling at the time.

So sometimes, from a creative perspective, I find that art trumps science and photographically less really is more… 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Starts with My

Friday Afternoon Walk

A few images from this afternoon’s leisurely stroll with my husband along the banks of the Caledonian Canal in Inverness. We saw boats, and ducks, and enjoyed the warm but breezy weather and beautiful blue skies.

It was nice just spending quality time together in the fresh air, walking and chatting and comfortably putting the world to rights – and to cap it all off we bumped into an old friend who was also out for a walk with her son, so we stood and chatted with them for a while too, which was lovely.

Altogether we whiled away a relaxing couple of hours in the sunshine, a perfect Friday afternoon walk 🙂

Weekly Smile

Sea Lock Gates

It’s called a lock gate, but to all intents and purposes it’s a solid metal door – or actually a pair of doors – holding back the waters of the Caledonian Canal at the point it joins up with the Beauly Firth in Inverness. When the tide is in, the water levels are pretty much equal both behind and in front of the lock gates, but when the tide is out the water behind in the canal remains high while in front the sea level ebbs and flows.

Thursday Doors

Tomnahurich Swing Bridge in Action

There are three very similar swing bridges over the Caledonian Canal here in Inverness – two road bridges and one railway bridge, all working on the same principle and constructed around the same time. Yesterday I was passing by just as the bridge at Tomnahurich opened, so stopped to capture the scene on camera .

The road crosses over from left to right of the picture (or right to left, depending on the direction of travel) and the bridge sits really low on the water so boats travelling the canal cannot pass underneath without the bridge moving out of the way. The traffic is temporarily stopped on either side and the entire bridge swings open sideways on a pivot and wheel (very much like a giant heavy door opening) until it sits at right angles to the road. The boat sails on through, the bridge closes again immediately, and the waiting traffic is free to pass over once more.

During the summer months this process takes place multiple times a day, and it never ceases to fascinate me – I really love the clever engineering involved! There is a warning siren that sounds continuously to let people know the bridge is opening and closing, but amazingly the mechanical operation of the bridge itself is silent and smooth and surprisingly speedy – it only takes a few minutes. This particular metal bridge has been in situ since 1938, a replacement for a previous wooden bridge that apparently worked on an entirely different principle.

I know this is a long and boring gallery if you’re not interested in seeing a series of static images of a bridge opening and closing again, but the fault is mine for not thinking to video it in action instead – duh! Anyway, I’m hoping my swing bridge opening and closing can count as an honorary canal door for today’s Thursday Doors – I know Dan loves bridges as well as doors, so fingers crossed I might just get away with it! 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Fault

Today’s Canal Walk

While the weather’s been nice I’ve been spending a lot of time in the garden, so haven’t been out on as many walks as usual.

But this afternoon I decided to forego the weeding and instead went for a wander along the banks of the Caledonian Canal here in Inverness. The change of scenery did me the world of good, and of course I took my camera with me – to my surprise I took almost 300 images and almost used up a whole battery charge by the time I got home.

I really enjoyed my leisurely walk on such a lovely June afternoon, and it feels really good to have taken a whole new collection of photographs from beyond my garden – definitely something to smile about! 🙂

And as a bonus I got home to find Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge this week has the option of posting images of water or landscapes – perfect!

Weekly Smile

Clachnaharry Swing Bridge

I’ve got a real soft spot for this dinky little swing bridge carrying the single track railway line across the Caledonian Canal at Clachnaharry, Inverness. I walk past it regularly and there are myriad photographs of it in my image archive, often caught with a train crossing over, but so far I’ve never seen it open.

It swings open at right angles on a pivot to allow boats to pass through, either coming into the canal from the Beauly Firth through the Muirtown Basin or going out of the canal in the opposite direction. Apparently it’s a 126ft girder railway bridge that has been in situ since 1909, replacing the original bridge of 1862, and is painted white to reduce expansion in hot weather.

Luckily for me there is a pedestrian level crossing on either side of the bridge, allowing for some really up-close-and-personal images to be taken from the middle of the track itself. Maybe one day I’ll catch it opening up for a boat to go through! 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Myriad

Whatever Floats Your Boat

I have an odd kind of fascination with boats, even though I must admit I’m not particularly keen on being on one. I often find it funny that someone who loves being so close to the water doesn’t really like being on it so much, probably because I don’t want to end up in it! I love swimming in a swimming pool but not in open water – I once nearly drowned at the seaside as a child, and the experience has long left me warily respectful of large, powerful bodies of open water.

In idle daydreams I love playing with the idea of the potential freedom a small vessel floating along can bring – I imagine hiring a rental boat for the day to travel up and down the canal by my house, of having fun on the water in a very restricted and contained way, never far from land. But then reality hits and I think – I don’t like the undulating sensation of movement beneath my feet and anyway, the scenery looks just as nice from the bank where I can feel far more safe and secure.

I’m not someone who avoids being on water at any cost. I’m happy enough being on a ferry boat, because there’s a good reason for being on the water and the boats are robust. Or taking a short, tourist boat-trip, I’ve done that on occasion, too. But being on an ocean-going cruise for days of weeks on end has never been my idea of a fun holiday. Here in the UK I’ve been sailing with friends on a loch before, and have been out in a rowing boat, and a kayak in the sea for that matter. I’ve even experienced water-skiing behind a boat – but never again, once was more than enough for me. In Louisiana visiting my in-laws I’ve been out on small motor boats on the bayou, and have also visited relatives on their houseboat because living in the swamp as they do there, boats are simply a part of everyday life.

But basically, a life lived regularly on and off the water is not for me. Beaches and shorelines and riverbanks are more my scene. Close by but keeping my distance. Boats and me seem to have a truce, a mutual understanding because of their preferred location. They stay in the water and I admire them from dry land. Yet I continue my fascination with boats, drawn to photographing them and watching other people live their lives on and off their boats, whether for work or for leisure. Sometimes I wish I was more like them, clearly comfortable in stepping so easily from solid ground to floating free. But I’m not, and that’s all there is to it. Still, whatever floats your boat! 🙂