Summer in scotland by martin bennie

On a dark stormy summers day, the beach at Aberdeen is always the best place to go to see muted contrasty colours, between the dunes, the sand and the sea. So looking at the sky this day, i headed towards where i thought the storm might go and ended up at Balmedie beach. Having walked along to the higest dune i know there, i turned and looked back towards Aberdeen in the far off distance.

My composition needed a 50/50 balance between the sky and land and i thought a long exposure would suit this contrasty day very well. So i set up my composition to run from left to right and placed the sand and sea, as near to the bottom left as possible, to draw your eye along this line, past the windmills and on, into the distance and Aberdeen. I fifted a Lee 6 stop filter, to help me blur the water, creating my water colour look i like down here and fitted a Lee 0.9 grad filter for holding back the skys exposure.


Having taken my exposure, the rain started as the big storm hit me and i packed and headed back through the wet dunes, down to the sand and along back towards the car.


As i was about to turn off the beach for the car, i saw the sun break through, just about where these kite surfers were, and decided to head back into the dunes for some height perspective, as the light just looked outstanding, with dark stormy clouds, rainbows and these guys kite surfing.


Im not shy when it comes to getting what i want in an image and having spoken to this guy called Ross, he agreed to do some posing for me. Low and behold, while im messing about with compostions, there appears a rainbow.

Having my neutral density filters on, i dont normally use my circular poloriser at the same time. So with some speed and trepidation and constant looking to see if the rainbow would last, i changed to my polariser, got Ross to stand in position and turned the polariser till the rainbow stood out.

A polarizing filter, if you dont know, simply filters out unwanted reflections from non-metallic surfaces such as water and glass in addition to light reflecting off moisture and pollution in the atmosphere and for rainbows, its the go to tool.


All in all, by the time id left, my shoes were full of sand, my jeans were soaking wet, but i had noticed none of this as i was so focused on capturing these guys having fun out there, on what was almost a winters day at the beach. But when you focus, you forget, because your in the moment and on days like this, with the fabulous light, i am glad i was the only photographer out there, seeing and capturing this moment in time for me and the other 3 people who were out there having fun.

Peace and stillness by martin bennie

I Worked and lived a life once in Korea, that was on the edge of insanity with stress and deadlines and where millions of dollars were at stake. The higher the stress, the more peaceful my photography became and i lived like this for almost 6 years. Looking back on the drink we consumed and the hangover i had, it was a wonder i even survived or had time for my photography. I wondered the south west coast of korea, and drove with no purpose, other than to see what lay at the end of the road i was on. Sometimes i turned left and sometimes i went right. I had no idea where i was going most of the time and i think this was in parallel with my life at this time. I had no direction, no goals and no meaning to my life. I was good at my job, i worked really hard and on my days off, i roamed, searching for something that i couldn’t find, because i didn’t know what it was. Its like leaving the house and thinking, shit did i leave the oven on


I searched for stillness in my life and its evident in all my photography, though i didn’t know this at the time. I just seemed to be at peace in some of the landscapes and managed to portray my feelings into my images. I turned off all my thoughts and in these moments that i captured, i found the stillness i saught. All of my images, when i look at them years later, give me back the feeling i felt, while standing watching the light change in the landscape i happend to be standing it. I don’t know how many thousands of miles i drove, but i saw more of korea than most foreigners or Koreans could possibly hope to see and i captured a country of such stunning beauty, it stuck in my soul and even 4 years after leaving, i miss it so much.


i once read a quote by Thich Nhat Hanh , the famous buddist monk turned teacher, where he said “Everything inside and around us wants to reflect itself in us. We don’t have to go anywhere to obtain the truth. We only need to be still and things will reveal themselves in the still water of our heart”

I wondered the country, taking long exposures of images, because i wanted to stand still and listen to the noise around me, but i didn’t know that, and i just remember the stillness and the escape from the constant chattering in my head of things to do with work, or things in my life that were not right, yet i didn’t know what to do about them. My photography is about calm, its about stillness and in most cases, there are no people in my shots, because i wish to escape people and feel the isolation off the moment.


Now i suffer no stress and my life keeps on giving me what i need and strangers i meet tell me to slow down, stop and listen. My ife gives me jobs, where there is little to do and no way of being stressed and i get to travel to exotic locations and see wonderful things. I meet people who help me through bizarre circumstances and i strive most days to keep my mind focused and never to worry. I yearn for south korea as if it was a person that had died and i feel pangs of jealousy, when i see others going back or living there still, and i feel sad, that my life will not take me back. But yet i know, that it is not my time and jobs i apply for there, seem to come and go and i have to learn to accept my fate. But yet even as i think this, i know i can not go back. Longing and desire are things i have yet to explore, and i certainly don’t understand them yet. I miss the past and i cant change until i let go. I have no idea where my life will go from now, but i accept all that comes my way and perhaps i will just take a look down this new road that seems to have opened for me.

travelling as therapy by martin bennie

Going alone in wilderness was used as practice for spiritual rejuvenation and clarity throughout human history by many historic figures. Depending on personal development and readiness, some reported experiences of luminous clairvoyance, state of oneness and intense transformation.

There are plentiful examples of Jesus of Nazareth, Sakyamuni Buddha, Tibetan yogi Milarepa, Greek Orthodox monk Saint Simeon, David Thoreau and great number of others throughout history that used time alone in the wilderness as a way to clarify meaning of existence, to connect to the source of happiness within and shine a light on a path of individual evolution of consciousness.


Going along in wilderness gives a variegated experience of space. Our habitually internalized relationship with our immediate environment has a tendency to subconsciously retrain our ability to envision new perspective on out universe and our place in it. Going into wilderness alone has a potential for a new possibility to see yourself in the world. 

External environment has a direct effect on our sense of well-being. As our mind makes sense of it internally through relational cognition. External space is a reflection of a space of the mind, which is experienced as awareness within which all appearances arising. 

"The environment and experiences change our brain, so who you are as a person changes by virtue of the environment you live in and experiences you have".

Going alone in wilderness with intention of nurturing yourself and opening to reality of inner experience as much as outer terrain will result in perceptual shifts. Spaciousness of outer expanse experienced by being alone in the wilderness will translate into softening of the edges of rigid relationship to conceptual definition of personal reality and a place within your universe. 

It may result in greater open-mindedness and more magnanimous attitude toward yourself and others. If you come away from a place of conflict or stagnation in not finding solution to whatever problem, being alone in wilderness may initiate a change. By nature of shifting environment it may cause you to abandon ardent attachment to focus on problematic position and let unexpected solution come. 


Your perception, which is governed by mental habits might shift along with a change in vastness and serene stability of a landscape. It will affect your interaction within yourself by the way of slowing your mind down to let it rest in its natural state devoid of input for habitual reactivity. 

When this happens you may see others in a slightly different light, more like diverse flow of events and not like single snapshots you chose them to see. It will give rise to mental spaciousness and tolerance. 

There is a new branch of neuroscience specifically aimed at study of malleability of the brain, called Neuroplasticity. What long-believed to be true that brain formation is finished in early childhood was proven otherwise by researchers at Salk Institute for Biological Studies at La Jolla, California.They shown that the adult brain can change its structure, its connections and functions. Which meant that we can voluntarily transform our experience, by changing our minds and brains through the choice of environment, way of life and mental activity which we engage.

Enriched environments experiment on rats at the same university showed that by placing lab animals in rooms with play and exercise equipment gave rise to neurogenesis — an increase and survival of new neurons. 

It was a striking discovery that exposure to an enriched environment leads to increase in new neurons by 15% along with improvement in behavioral performance

Going alone in wilderness for mental health has a positive effect of removing mental static, which is seeing yourself stuck in a particular situation. We get ourselves stuck by firmly believing and identifying with our particular mental construct of fragments of reality into a concrete view. Identifying with our view of life as truly existent reality, completely solid and unchangeable gets us stuck.

Going in wilderness alone may help to loosen up our attachment to our version of reality, our universe by offering an opportunity to quiet the mind and notice the stream of thoughts and emotions from a standpoint of neutral observer. It might happen through deliberate use of meditative technique or by being removed from environment that re-enforces our habitual way of being. 

This is the opening into awareness - nature of who you are. Power of awareness is such that it is liberating from self-imposed limitations. The effect of the awareness on your thoughts, emotions and desires is detachment. You begin to observe emotions and thoughts as events passing through and not an intrinsic quality of yourself. You are not identical to these mental activities. As rigid structure of perceiving yourself and your relationship to circumstances in a particular way begins to soften up, there is an opening to become free to move forward.