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Landscape as Witness - Field Trip: Days 1-3

Back in January I undertook a 3-week field trip to North Clare as part of my ongoing Landscape as Witness project, documenting famine constructions through the use of oral history, aftermath photography, and ethnographic research. Although the field trip was a success, I quickly realised that 3 weeks was nowhere near enough time to collect all the data I needed. A few months later I received funding from the Thomas Dammann Junior Memorial Trust to undertake another field trip as part of this project. I have just begun this particular field trip, which will last from the 20th of July until the 31st of August, 2018.

As I have stated in a recent social media post, I struggle with writing blogs. I find it quite difficult to express my thoughts and feelings on various subjects, as I am hyper aware that it is going online for anyone to see. Hopefully this explains the lack of posts from March (when I first launched my blog) to now.

Despite my dislike for blogging, I felt I needed to post something (preferably daily) throughout the duration of this field trip. This would be beneficial to people following my project, but it would also be useful for me to look back on after this field trip has taken place.

For this reason I have decided to post 'extended updates'. I am often left a bit frustrated when posting on the likes of Twitter or Instagram, as information on those platforms tend to be quite compressed to avoid being overlooked. These 'extended updates' will hopefully provide more information for those who are interested, and will also provide an accessible route into blogging for me.

I decided to compress the first 3 days of my trip into one post, as individually they wouldn't make for very exciting content. Day 1 consisted of me arriving at the Carron Field Research Facility (where I am staying), unpacking, eating dinner, and falling asleep. Although the trip here was eventful enough, I didn't think it warranted a whole post to itself. Days 2 and 3 were quite similar in many ways. Over those two days I was attempting to figure out some sort of routine for myself for the next 6 weeks. The more of a routine I have, the more focused I can be on the project itself.

I also wanted to familiarise myself with two subjects that I was particularly out of practice with: cycling and photography. For this reason I decided to go on 'test runs' around the area, getting to know the landscape again, building up some fitness in preparation for all the cycling that I will be doing, and getting back into taking photographs. These cycles were both incredibly short (Day 2: 6km, Day 3: 8km), but they both proved to be incredibly beneficial.

While cycling, I made an effort to get off my bike and take a photograph whenever I came across something visually interesting. This 'spontaneous' style of photography is not something that I am particularly familiar with, as over the past fews years I usually know exactly what I want to photograph before I set out. Although in certain cases this can be beneficial, it can also be incredibly restrictive. I think this is evident from my last field trip to North Clare. I arrived with the intention of photographing people and famine constructions, and hardly anything else came into the equation. This resulted in me rushing around during my final week, desperately trying to photograph as many of these constructions as possible. Because of this, the images that I was left with were average to say the least. It was almost as if I had over-planned the project, not leaving any space for myself to manoeuvre in.

Already I feel as if this 'spontaneous' style of photography could be quite beneficial to my project. The images may appear slightly random and underwhelming at the moment, but they could become part of a bigger picture as the project progresses. Only time will tell.

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