March 2008

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I recently started reading `How To Fish‘ by Chris Yates. It’s actually not about ‘how to fish’, and it’s not even about fly fishing, well at least not principally. It’s main subject is coarse fishing, particularly for perch, but the essence of this seems to be utterly identical to fly fishing.

I’m up to chapter 6, and it’s already quite clear that it is a really beauty of a book. Chris has a wonderful style of writing. It is deceptively simple, but also extremely elegant and insightful. The best thing I can say is that he seems to be able to communicate a feeling which gets somewhere close to one’s soul. I’ll try and write a proper review when I’ve finished, so for the moment I’ll leave you with a wonderful paragraph.

“…fishing offers a dimension where, even if you don’t cast very far into it, you can be free of the wired-up world and suddenly in touch with an equally complex, less concise but deeper-rooted reality. The simpler your approach the more intimately you’re involved; uncluttered by a barrow-load of equipment, untroubled by the passage of time, hopefully undisturbed and often unambitious, you rediscover the art of improvisation that you mastered as a child, and as you become more absorbed in the watery surroundings you begin to notice details – the bending of a reed, the forming of a ripple, an abrupt stillness – that gradually join up to create an event that you may be part of. “

It’s nice to see the Clyde River Foundation and others getting school kids to understand something about rivers. The BBC have an article about one such project in Clackmannanshire. Check it out.

Ansel Adams was one of the greatest photographers ever. His landscape photos of Yosemite in the west of the USA really did set the standard for black and white photography of that genre. Photos like `Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico‘ have a kind of magnetic power to draw your eye around the frame. The sharpness, depth, tonality and composition of such photos remains unsurpassed. The fact that many of his great photos were taken in the early part of the last century does sometimes seem hard to believe.

Folks in the UK now have a great opportunity to see a wonderful selection of his own hand-printed photos at the `Ansel Adams – A Celebration of Genius’ exhibition which is now on display in the centre of Edinburgh. If you stand at the east end of Princes Street and look south across the top of the station you’ll see a big poster proclaiming ANSEL ADAMS. The exhibition is on at the City Art Gallery, which is right below the poster.

I’ve been twice, and it really is absolutely fantastic. It’s also a very rare chance to see the real thing, hand-printed by the Master and simply incredible to behold. Well worth the trip from Glasgow, Fife or anywhere in the UK really.

The photo in the first link above link is a horrific JPG version of the original. If you go to the exhibition and see the original you will be truly amazed at just how good a hand-printed black and white photograph can look.

Have a look at the (slightly poor) promotional website here.

Included in the exhibition is a display by a Scottish photographer called Lindsay Robertson. I hadn’t heard of him before, but his photos are also wonderful. He shoots using large format black and white film (like Ansel), and some of the prints are more than 5 FEET wide. You stand in front of them and truly feel like you could step into the frame and feel the cool breeze creeping across Rannoch Moor. His contribution to the exhibition is really excellent.

What else can I say? GO!