If you go down to the woods today…

you’re in for a big surprise (boom tish). Well, not a big surprise but perhaps the odd little surprise if you look hard enough.

You see, for the past 20 years or thereabouts, I’ve been taking my negs and prin ts back to the same places I captured the image first time round. I can’t remember the exact date but it was when I was in the Trossachs lochs looking for new specimens when I realised that I was taking something away from the location in my photographs but not giving anything back.

I thought about planting a tree or a sapling but that would be interfereing with nature, so that idea was scrapped. However, I’d remembered about the miniature dolls that were found on the Edinburgh crags. Intrigued by this, it occured to me that I could leave a print, a neg or slide back at the very place I’d captured the tree in the first place. So, I set about going back to lots of the trees I’d photographed before and leaving little gifts there as a thank you. It would also serve as to bring some joy to any walkers passing by.

However, rather than just leave the prints there, I would go back every now and again to check on how they were doing or hadn’t been pinched and it was then that I saw how the prints themselves would take on a life of their own. The prints were done in the darkroom and printed archival and toned, so being wet prints they would withstand rain, wind, sun and so on. Slides and prints wouldl withstand the elements as they too were wet processed.

Gradually, interesting little scratches would appear, seeds would get stuck, and even things like insect casts would get attached to the emilsion or paper surfaces, and from that, I would take the prints back home to either scan or print them again.

Some resukts have been v ery interesting over the years and there have been a few surprises. For example, some film is just indestructible, like Velvia. It seems that no matter what the weather throws at it, it barely gathers a scratch. On the other hand however, place a Velvia slide beneath a blossom tree in Spring and the petals settling on the emulsion seem to strip it away entirely.

Here are some examples of what’s happened to prints and slides for you to enjoy. And if you see one in the landscape, let me know.

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