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Watching the storm

Storm on the beach on Berneray, Outer Hebrides

Having spent most of the Spring so far in Iceland and the Outer Hebrides, I've spent a lot of time watching storms brew up on the horizon, sometimes blowing on past, other times hailing us in the face. I love it - I've always found stormy skies totally captivating. Blue skies just don't do it for me in the same way. A moody sky captures my imagination, and I just have to photograph it, even though the photos often don't look like much, and certainly don't do justice to the drama witnessed. Over the last few months, I got to thinking, what exactly is it that I like so much about an angry sky.

Firstly, no two storms are the same. The blackness of the sky, the shape of the clouds, whether the sun is peering through, each storm is like your fingerprint, totally unique. And so, I think part of why I like to photograph a storm is for the feeling of "I was there. In that one unique moment on earth, I was there." In this world of Instagram where we are bombarded with images from all over the world - we see them, yet we are not there. Meanwhile, we don't see the place we are actually in, as we're too busy looking at our phones. The feeling of being present in the moment is hard to beat. Much like watching a baby grow each day, a storm is ever-changing. If you don't pay very close attention, you will have missed it, the sky will have moved on, and you will be watching something else, some other storm, that other moment will be gone forever.

And there is something very refreshing about being able to get outside and enjoy the weather no matter what it brings. So what if the storm comes my way, and I get soaked, or hailed on. The fierce winds hits my face, and it feels good. Our clothes keep the worst of the rain and hail off, and we can dry out later anyhow. The important thing is that we are still standing on the beach, despite the storm that may come or has come. And so with life, when the storms hit, as no doubt they will for us all in some unique shape or another, and if we are able to say "and here I stand" through the drama, and the tragedy, there is something beautiful in that, in being able to watch the storms hit and pass, and remain standing. Even better, if you are able to stand on a beach getting rained on.

And so, when watching the storms on the horizon, or when being whipped by the wind, my thoughts turn to "I am here and here I stand". This storm will pass, we will be the richer for it, and ready for the next one.

Storm on Harris on the road to Hushinish, Outer Hebrides

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