Al Miles: I'm doctor who lives and works in the stunning highlands of Scotland. My interest in the landscape started thanks to my parents, growing up on the edge of the Cairngorms and I was led into the hills by them. I was lucky enough to return to the highlands to work as a GP in 2007. My medical work is very busy and stressful as well as rewarding. I evolved my photography as a medium to help focus the regenerative mindfulness of spending time in the landscape. I prefer lesser known places and hope to create images which speak of this wild contemplative peace that I seek, as opposed to just making pretty pictures (though I do make commercial work for cards). One great inspiration to me is 'The Living Mountain' by Nan Shepherd, who incidentally knew my grandfather and gifted my mother a book every Christmas of her childhood. By the nature of photography I must start with reality then proceed through a reductive process combining contemplation, imagination, expenditure of physical energy, experimentation, weather, seasons and changing light. This is time-intensive and explains why most of my work is made in my near surroundings, the other being I love this place.
In order to translate this process into a high quality artwork I try to use the best tools and materials that I can afford, selling prints has helped fund this process. Images are recorded as RAW files which contain the maximum information for processing and often look very different to what the eye sees until I process them. Most cameras record JPEG images where the camera has made a huge number of choices about how to represent the image but I find this restricts my ability to make images about my feelings. I do try, however, to minimise the amount of time I must spend in front of the computer afterwards, I this part of the process not nearly as rewarding as being outdoors.
Each image is processed using Phase One's Capture One RAW editor to return the RAW file to something closer to how I felt at the time of experiencing that moment. I then fine-tune and prepare for printing in Adobe Photoshop CC. Printing is one of my great joys after positive interactions with the landscape that have successfully translated into a photograph. Printing to archival standard is ensured by using Epsom K3 pigment inks on Hahnemule Photo Rag paper, a combination that should ensure colours remain undiminished after 100 years (with appropriate environmental conditions). Hahnemule Photo Rag it is a heavyweight paper at 308g/m2 and made from 100% cotton, it allows the very detailed printing and outstanding colour rendition necessary to present the quality of the digital image he produces. Each artwork is then checked for quality and if I am satisfied with it, signed, numbered then carefully mounted ready for framing with the mount also signed. A certificate of authenticity is enclosed with each artwork including artistic and technical information about the image and its limited edition number.
I find the longer I spend out with my camera, the fewer images I make; pressing the shutter feels like an intrusion. Probably I have discarded my beginner's enthusiasm as I refined my vision to the one detailed above. Currently I make about 10 new images per year which I'm satisfied with and prepared to show to the public. Each new image is the result of about 100 hours of work. Limited print runs complete this highly selective process help ensure investment value as well as fostering freshness in my work.