downtime studio downtime studio


As I add  to this site I will from time to time include material that might best be described as tangential.  I have to fight a certain disinclination to be self-revelatory, but at the end of the day this is an amateur site that will probably not be looked at by more than a handful of people. So what the hell. If nothing else it will give me something to look at when I have lost my mind. 


I have started to walk barefoot when I go looking for flowers  to photograph. At first this was painful, and the journeys were short. Now I can walk for quite a long time over almost any surface without experiencing too much discomfort. I suppose this has taken me a couple of months. I can't yet say gravel is a pleasure on which to walk barefoot, but nor is it an obstacle to progress. 
But why do it in the first place? It is a just question. I started to experiment with it after reading an article on the activity in a newspaper. I was intrigued by the claims of considerable therapeutic benefit to be had. It is also free, and pretty straightforward - you just take off your shoes and socks and go for a walk. It must rank as one of the easiest claims to test.
As I experimented I started to read about it, and was not surprised to find quite a bit of information on the benefits of walking barefoot. 
As far as I can tell, the benefits fall into two categories: the benefits to the support structure of the organism (skeleton, ligaments, muscles etc) from allowing the bare feet free movement over varying terrain, and the benefits of so-called earthing, or grounding.
Rather than rely on what could easily be dodgy testimony from some bloke on the internet, the best thing is to check out the available information for yourself. 
For all I know there may be contra-indications, and it would be irresponsible to extrapolate from my experience to make a more general recommendation. It suits me, very much, and I intend to continue with it, but it may not suit you. 
Quite apart from any health benefits, there is one indisputable benefit: it feels real good. I mean, really good. 
Once you get over the initial stages, which involve much 'ooh' and 'ah' and 'right, that actually hurt', you are rewarded with pleasant new sensations. 
Grass is delicious to walk on barefoot, and so is the bare earth, but the sensations are entirely different. Mud is sublime, and I find it impossible to resist the temptation to push my feet into it in order to feel the mud oozing out between my toes. 
Walking over rocks is every kind of awesome. I find the best rocks are ones that are smooth and not too small, and then I think the effect must be like getting a reflexology massage. 
I have a hunch that reflexology developed as a response to the problems that came with the wearing of shoes. No way of proving it, of course, but I certainly doubt anyone who walks barefoot for any length of time feels the need for a foot massage. 
in addition to the enjoyment of novel sensations, there is the release of tension that accompanies walking barefoot. 
Whether this be placebo effect or not, the fact is that walking barefoot offers me a release from stress. If I feel less stressed after walking barefoot, then I am less stressed after walking barefoot. 
I have never had a reflexology massage, but maybe the feeling of stress release is similar. 

Anyway, those are a few observations on walking barefoot. I try not to be evangelical about it, but if I were that way inclined, I would buy a megaphone and stand barefoot on a street corner. 

Just one thing: don't tread in dog shit. It is a novel sensation, but you don't want it. 



There is a definite change in the air, as well as in the light. I knew a photographer once who insisted there was no difference between a flash light source and a natural light source, let alone differences in natural light itself. As far as he was concerned 'a photon is a photon'.
I don't think that is true, though no doubt from a strictly scientific perspective, when you break it all down in the lab, one photon is pretty much like the next. Nevertheless, a painter will tell you what a photographer will: the light is different at different places and at different times of the year. 

Nothing can really compare to good natural light. Properly controlled flash light can light a subject beautifully - so well that you would not know it was flash at all, so far is it removed from the obvious flash effect you sometimes get in photographs. Yet still, it lacks something that is present in natural light, some indefinable quality.

Is that so surprising? Artificial light will light an indoor space perfectly well. It can even create mood and atmosphere. Yet it never comes close to yielding the experience of steeping outdoors into the morning light, whether that be a Spring day or at the height of Summer, nor of being out as the light fades, perhaps trudging back toward home across a field, tired but inwardly at rest. The natural world understands the difference between the morning and the evening light. Just listen to the difference between the dawn chorus and the evening chorus. Each follows the light at dawn and at dusk, and the mood changes. 

If you remember when next you get the chance, pause to really listen to a lark singing, high against a blue sky on a hot summer day; that is a sound that could not be made in  Winter.    

The flowers I have been doing my best to photograph are 'going over'  now. They are fewer in number, although a  handful of species are said to continue flowering well into the Autumn. I will be heading out to try to find those, and make the attempt to photograph them in situ, since wild flowers tend to wilt extremely quickly and there is often nothing worth photographing when I get them back to the studio  after even a short walk. In the main, though, I will be turning my attention to fruits. Hawthorns, blackberries, rose hips - there are  many to collect and photograph now, and for the next few weeks.

The butterflies have gone, for the most part. This year was particularly good for them for whatever reason. I am not really an observer of the butterfly, but even I noticed the greater than usual number. I have not been tempted to photograph them, beautiful though they are. There are already expert photographers of butterflies, and I am content to marvel at their expertise and patience. 

The world is getting ready to settle into the stillness of winter. The natural world, that is. I don't think the world of man ever settles to anything. Perhaps we used to once, before we lost our connection to Nature and her rhythms.