One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

This journal entry was made halfway through my outing on the Reul na Mara; We’d come back to Scrabster harbour to shelter from the storm which had chased us all the way from Orkney, a maritime rollercoaster ride that lasted 10-hours. Ross’ approach and entry into a turbulent and blindingly dark Scrabster harbour was an impressive display of boat handling and a testament to his 36-years experience at sea – he made it look as easy as negotiating a shopping trolly around Tesco.

‘Sunday 11th November
Scrabster Harbour

13.00 – This morning, we got a taxi from the boat mooring on Scrabster harbour into Thurso – Me, Dougie, Benjei and Jo-Jo. Benjei is sporting a huge fat lip, having fallen on his face last night.
The Y-Not cafe is a bit more modern and up-market than I’d anticipated when dressing for brunch – all of us are wearing the same clothes we’ve had on for the past week. We get a table and Dougie goes to order drinks, I’ve been looking forward to a proper pot of tea for days. Dougie returns and informs me that the cafe has run out of tea. What cafe runs out of tea? It’s like going into a pub and being told there’s no beer. I order a full Scottish breakfast and a latte, we all order lattes, Benjei spills his all over the table. The appropriately dressed clientele stare at us as though we’re patients on the run from a mental hospital. Fuck ’em – most people know we’re off a fishing trawler, and I enjoy it, I feel proud to be a member of this elite gang. Despite the lack of tea and the somewhat sterile surroundings, the Y-Not full Scottish gets a solid 7/10.’

These black and white images are experimental; I haven’t made a photo-essay on mono film for a very long time. Shooting Ilford HP5 became a necessity due to the lack of light and most of the time I rated this 400-speed film at 1600 and had the lab push it two stops (for the non-photo-nerds, this is what gives the images the grainy, high-contrast look). I feel black and white photographs work better as a series, rather than stand-alone photos. I will persevere with black and white because I do like the more serious reportage look to the images.


  1. > I feel black and white photographs work better as a series, rather than stand-alone photos.
    I understand that. Perhaps I should spend a roll or two on a loosely defined project to see how it works… Sorry to hear that you missed a nice glass of proper tea, by the way.


  2. I miss photojournalism like this – reminisceant of the work of the Magnum pioneers . Very well done. More please πŸ™‚


  3. They say you should keep the sea level… composition rules and such, you know all about that of course.
    Anyway, that would not suit all your fantastic shots from the sea, Phil. I really love these, for whatever that’s worth. I’ve seen them before, but had to go revisit… like you will with some blogs πŸ™‚


      1. Nah, me neither. I work at sea, so know more or less everything about tilt on all axis possible… Looks like I will be at sea for a very, very long time at the moment as the borders are getting closed down all around the world and I can’t get my back to back over to america, which basically means I probably have to stay until all this is over. Thank heavens I got a lot of film on board!
        I really love your pictures, Phil. Great job done! Thanks πŸ™‚


      2. Sorry for the late reply, Phil. Been busy with work for a couple of days or more. I’m the chief engineer on a ROV vessel currently working in the Gulf of Mexico. Old(ish) norwegian vessel, 4 x 2500 hp main engines, tons of pumps and pipes, wheels and handles to wrestle… you know, the lot. I’m stuck at sea for the moment. Due to get home, but will probably have to stay for quite some time now as the big flu is taking over the world, or so it seems anyway.

        Liked by 1 person

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