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Upcoming book: ” LIGHTHOUSE ADVENTURES! ” by Fraser Bliss

In addition to my blog posts, which tell of my photography trips in pictures and brief anecdotes, I am currently preparing my first book, an expanded journal, entitled, aptly: “Lighthouse Adventures”. If all goes well, it will be published in the not too distant future.

My lighthouse travels, which have ranged over the past 17 years and taken me to seven countries coasting the Baltic Sea, as well as to continental Europe, Britain, North and South America and Asia, have offered me a kaleidoscope of colourful experiences which invariably go above and beyond what the typical tourist sees. Capturing these lofty and beautiful maritime icons on film in compelling and attractive light while creating backdrops of colour, serenity, movement, wave and storm has always given me the greatest sense of challenge and inspiration. Even getting to some of these lonely, out-of-the-way places is an adventure in itself involving sometimes strange but always interesting encounters, characters, places and predicaments. It is this aspect, the unforeseen encounters along the way, that I particularly relish, and so, endeavour to share these colourful experiences, escapades and raw adventures in the forms that are true to my heart: picture and prose.

I trust that you will see and feel the passion I have for the beautiful, the sea, taking risks and these alluring light-bearing sentinels as you read through my book of photographs and the stories behind them.

EXCERPT  from my upcoming book ” Lighthouse Adventures! ” :

To Utgrynnan Island…

…While photographing on Utgrynnan Island -from many different angles and well into the evening -I completely welcomed when a large cloud bank rolled in to block out the sun as it prepared for its final and magnificent descent; this reprieve, this fortuitous interruption allowed me to stop in my tracks, at last, and rest. By the clouds overhead, it looked as though my job had finally finished for that day. What a relief! I could retire honourably now, a job well done, no lingering guilt from quitting early. Without a doubt, at that particular moment, I felt exhausted, beat up, hobbled like an old man, stiff and bent -especially after being not only up but keyed up for the past 36 hours. Everything had been so intense, so consuming; the fuel tank now registered “empty”. Kaput. Giving in to the feeling, with my head soupy-thick and knees wobbling, I cast about for the nearest spot to ease my bones to the ground. Unbeknownst to me though, Nature would have some surprises in store before nightfall; indeed, the best light was yet to come… So, stealing those few moments of shut-eye -lying amongst the cool rocks and boulders with circling seabirds screaming their wrath at me -this was a rare luxury in my spent state – a blackout, a reprieve, a blessing.

At some point, I awoke to find the clouds had passed. Something strange touched my consciousness which brought me quickly to my senses. Raising myself up on my hands, I looked around to find my bearings and to discover the source of my strange feelings – feelings of surrealness, as if awakening from a misty dream of intimacy. A strange atmosphere had descended upon the scene in front of my eyes: an eery, other-worldly glow washed over the tiny island -a warm, reddish hue which bathed everything in a honey-like magic. For a moment I was transfixed with a sense of awe. As my eyes swept northwestward, I saw the source of this mystery: a red coal of sun hung in balance in a sliver of blue sky at the horizon’s edge. From this slit between the curtain of grey clouds and the sea, resplendent, rose-coloured rays streamed out horizontally in all directions. A larger lighthouse was at work here, suffusing little Utgrynnan Island and its stripped tower with magical light. This serendipity, this boon of good fortune, this setting sun -suspended- would last, at best, for a minute or two before being swallowed up by the cool sea, never to appear again in that exact form. I must act quickly (I have dithered in the past, losing such opportunities); I must find the best spot -within a stone’s throw- and capture this treasure trove on film. ‘Up on your feet, boy! Move!’ How was I feeling then? How? “Exhilaration” would hardly describe it; “ecstasy?”, a bit closer; “verging on climax” -in all its poignant fullness-  might best describe it: an all-consuming wave, a blinding joy, a godsend.

And finally, with the second hand ticking and no time to linger in these blissful feelings, lest the sun, and its sweet largesse disappear into the approaching twilight, a coolness -from experience- descends upon me. Suddenly electrified, I spring up from my rocky bed- forgetting all aches and stiffness -and survey for the best and closest vantage point. Over there! Got it! Thirty yards away. Collecting my equipment, then hip-hopping over boulder and stone, I move swiftly into position. There, hastily cantilevering the tripod between jutting rocks, I make the final camera adjustments, but at a demonstrably slower tempo. The stakes are just too high to ruin this chance with carelessness that comes with rushing. The sun was not slowing down -it was partly under the horizon now and the magic glow a bit weaker- but, in the seconds remaining, I knew from experience that precision would win the game -if it was to be won at all… Ok, check and double check the settings: correct aperture, film speed and focus; tripod base steady; set timer to two second delay… All OK. Firing squad ready!

There was nothing left to do but trip the shutter. So I did, a number of times in succession, capturing the shot of shots in the dying moments of that spellbinding light… Bulls eye! Eureka! No prisoners taken!  I got it all… It doesn’t get any better than this.

Can I now relax and bask in the triumph? Can I slacken the bowstring? Can I recoil from this unrelenting and exhilarating tension of the past two days? Alas, no, not quite yet. Joy triumphs over pain: I am seized by the urge to share my prize with family and a circle of friends. So, fishing for my iPhone from beneath layers of clothing, I grab one extra shot to blaze the good news through cyberspace -besides, everyone will believe a cell phone photo, which cannot be doctored…