The Scottish Highlands have a power to capture the imagination in a way that few places on this planet can. Perched on the craggy edge of the North Atlantic, the Highlands instantly conjure up images of rocky precipices, lonely lochs, and rainswept moors.
And indeed, their reputation as one of the world’s great epicenters of gray and gloom is well earned. Fort William, the largest town in the Western Highlands gets just over 1,000 hours of sunlight per year. By comparison, that is less than half of the annual sunlight hours of America’s most famous capital of rain, Seattle. Further north than Siberia’s frozen Lake Baikal, windier than the steppe of Mongolia, wetter than London, and more sparsely populated than anywhere in mainland Europe, the Highlands are a destination for those who seek the solace of lonely spaces. I lived in Scotland for four years and took many journeys to the Highlands, including a solo circumnavigation of the Scottish coastline by bike. Darksome is an exploration of these spaces and a love letter to the quiet beauty of desolation and dismal wet.
“This darksome burn, horseback brown,
His rollrock highroad roaring down,
In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam
Flutes and low to the lake falls home.
What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.”
-From Inversnaid by Gerard Manley Hopkins-
About Michael O. Snyder
Michael O. Snyder is a photographer, filmmaker, and environmental scientist who uses his combined knowledge of visual storytelling and conservation to create narratives that connect people to the other-than-human-world and drive social change. As founder of Interdependent Pictures, he has directed films in the Arctic, the Amazon, the Himalaya, East Africa, and his home in rural Appalachia. His journalism work has been featured by National Geographic, The Guardian, VOX, Roads & Kingdoms, The Washington Post, High Country News, The Wild Magazine, Condé Nast, NPR, Political Science and Politics, Social Documentary and Beautiful Decay. His films have been selected to over 40 festivals and have taken home numerous awards. He holds and MSc in Environmental Sustainability from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He is a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, a Blue Earth Photographer, a Fearless Photographer, and the co-founder of two environmental organizations. Mike has hiked the Appalachian and John Muir Trails, cycled across Europe and ridden trains across Siberia. He currently resides in Charlottesville, Virginia with his wife and son. [Official Website]
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