When you walk out from Eshaness Lighthouse in the Shetland Islands onto a peninsula of once molten lava, the ground is spongy under your boot. You step on low-growing wildflowers in the field; they bounce back. You slip on moss spread over rock outcrops; some rocks lift. This summer, on the day I walk out there with my son Alex, a rolling fog adds to this sense of the indefinite.
The fog or haar is common in early summer when warm air blows over the cool North Sea. At the cliffs at Eshaness, 200 feet above sea level, it appears to come up from below, over the cliffs and into the walking fields. We think to turn back but have an ordinance map to follow to the cut-in canyons and channels we’ve heard about.
The haar obscures the view as we walk. We only get a sense of the first canyon when we see thousands of dive-bombing, grey and white Fumars scoot in and out of the fog, announcing the nearby 50-foot drop at Calder’s Geo.
We follow the contours of shallow lochs shaped like puzzle pieces, ellipses with sweeping arcs that curl back into the water. Alex wanders off, inland, to the Loch of Houlland and a bronze-age broch; I stand alone on the open field. The dampness in the air makes me cough; I’m lightheaded and wheeze but like the feeling of floating.
(These prints are made from digital scans of film negatives, first captured by overlapping frames within the camera and varying aperture. They are each 11″ x 24.5″, made at Indian Hill Imageworks on Fabriano Artistico, 23″ x 31″.)