Some Rock Portraits


Rock/Face in Water.

I only realised quite recently that photography can become one of the many forms of divination – in the root sense of communicating with the ‘gods’ ( divi-), that is, rather than seeking  answers to a specific questions.  For me, this means going into a receptive state and seeing what ‘shows’, or perhaps what is shown, by the light.  Amongst hills that accentuate the daily and seasonal difference in the direction and angle of sunlight, and in a climate where sunlight often breaks through between moving clouds, this works quite well.

My first purchase of a small digital camera, in November 2005, from a camera shop in Clitheroe, was marked by a curious co-incidence.  At the very moment that I decided to make the purchase, there was a very loud ‘bang’, and everyone in the street outside stood still!   Ahem.  I then realised that it was 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month – Armistice day.  They must have fired a gun up at the castle.  The shopkeeper asked me if I wanted to pause and observe the minute’s silence.  Someone else in the shop did, but I felt  this was a bit of an imposition, so went ahead with my purchase against a curiously silent backdrop.  The moment felt oddly propitious.  This would be some camera.

Even though the screen was frustratingly indistinct I really enjoyed using it.  The image above was taken with it at one of those moments when a whole series of fortunate ‘co-incidences’ come together.  The stream was flowing at just the right level, the twig had caught on the stone in just the right place, autumn leaves had piled up behind it, sunlight was illuminating the quite deep cleft in the hill beneath the trees, and I was in the right frame of mind to notice.

One voice in me is quite sceptical about simulacra like this.  They seem too obvious, too anthropocentric.  Another responds eagerly to the quite deep ‘aha’ feeling of having been blessed with an elemental communication from the subtle fabric of the land.  There is, of course, a huge amount of (dualist) tradition about stones being recepticles, or expressions, of ‘Spirit’.  From a monist/animist perspective, such moments bring the possibility of the personhood of stones, and of the land, into focus, whether or not a camera is involved.  And of course, our primal ancestors had a special regard for the beauty and communicative power of stone.

Rock/Face in Winter.

Rock/Face in Winter.

Bryn Celi Dhu, Angelsey/Mon.

Bryn Celli Ddu, Angelsey/Mon.

Moss Covered Stone, Calder Valley, Jan 2014.

Moss Covered Stone, Calder Valley, Jan 2014.

Rock/face in Evening Light

Rock/face in Evening Light


5 thoughts on “Some Rock Portraits

  1. Beautiful shots. I just use my cell camera that goes up to 8mb but usually keep it at 5mb then fiddle a little with contrast n hue n cropping n a lot of times changing them to just black n white just using a freeware program called (here is the secure server but uncheck the box for downloading McAfee – )as i cannot afford Photoshop, but the cell camera is not good for close shots. But then i reduce those way down for posting since it eats up the free but limited WP data space and for the www less than 1mb is just fine unless someone wants to suck them off your site. A photographer friend takes almost 1gb pics that are stunning. Its all about the light and being at the right place at the right time, n the cell is convenient to carry of course. I also like freezing moving things like fire, smoke n water to see what shows up, almost skrying photography. Be well.

  2. Hi Brian
    for what its is worth, there is no need to feel reticent about ‘seeing’ in rocks.
    If you get 10 people to look out the same window, you will get 10 different perceptions about what they ‘see’ and what it means to them, because each person will have had a different life in path with differing experiences.
    In my opinion, the ‘seeing’ is inextricably bound in with the meaning, there is no separation between the two.
    And human thinking does reflect human experiencing over the eons in its varying forms and guises, and seeing likeness is already wired in.
    By the way, I think these photographs are beautiful, and hope you post more as you take them
    Kind wishes, J

  3. Thanks J. I particularly like ‘simulacra’ that are surprising, fleeting, and may be difficult or impossible to find again. In those cases the feeling is perhaps what matters. The ‘visual’ image seems to provide a key to this, though that kind of perception is often more of a whole body response. Its just occurred to me that telepathy between humans works best with a condensed and vivid image. I hope the ‘birding’ is going well.

  4. I’m also fond of taking photographs. At one point, thinking of the adage that photos steal the soul from things I pondered whether I was right. However I’ve found that whilst some scenes, situations and persons clearly don’t desire to be photographed others do. That the camera and photography are valid parts of the divine and of the divine representing itself to us to be shared.

  5. I’ve also felt ambivalent about photography. I think it needs to be done with care. Personally I don’t photograph birds. And there’s also an ecological cost involved, with either film or digital, of course..

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