Although now dominated in the west by the Christian festival of Christmas, midwinter has always been, arguably, the most important time in the calendar of most civilisations.
Midwinter, and specifically the solstice, must have been a nervous time for our ancestors. Would the longer days and the warmth come back or would the sun continue on its downward arc never to return? It is easy to forget the importance of this time in previous ages, but its significance was so strong that even today it is no coincidence that the largest yearly celebration in the northern hemisphere still takes place around the time of the winter solstice.
It can be a bleak time, but it can also be an incredibly beautiful time also. I love the dark and brooding days we experience just now (less so the storm winds we have been having) and also the clear, crystal days when the light is sharp and hammer hard.
There is precious little photography work for me over this period, as everything tends to die-off for a good few weeks. This has allowed me plenty of time to get out and about though and for this week’s set of images I have been to the Borders, Ayrshire, Perthshire and to the east and west coasts.
I was lucky with the weather – I missed the worst of the gales and seemed to take cold, crisp weather with me. The fist image was taken in a sheltered and cold valley near Strontian on the west coast. Image two was taken on a visit to friends near the Ayrshire village of Barrhill. Images three and eight were taken near my home in Edinburgh.
I spent a wonderful morning at the Watch Water reservoir near Duns (Image 6) and on the way home photographed the bleak road between Gifford and Longformacus that skirts high through the eastern fringes of the Lammermuir Hills. (Image 4).
On another trip north of Perth, I came across a hidden and icy loch somewhere in the hills between Perthshire and Angus and photographed some frozen rocks (Image 7) and grass encrusted with crystalline ice (Image 5).
• Alan McCredie began the ‘100 weeks of Scotland’ website in October last year, and it will conclude in Autumn 2014. McCredie’s goal is to chronicle two years of Scottish life in the run-up to the independence referendum.
Alan says ‘one hundred weeks...’ is intended to show all sides of the country over the next two years. On the site, he says: “Whatever the result of the vote Scotland will be a different country afterward. These images will show a snapshot of the country in the run up to the referendum.
“The photos will be of all aspects of Scottish culture - politics, art, social issues, sport and anything else that catches the eye.”
All pictures (c) Alan McCredie/ 100 weeks of Scotland