WarningHigh-horse alert. The following may contain some ranty, self-righteous material.


You may remember a way, way back, when the sky-gods still punished humanity with thunder and lightning, when human sacrifice was the order of the day, and when hyper colour t-shirts were just about the coolest thing a twelve-year-old kid could wear, I set myself a photo-challenge: “Things that don’t belong together.”

The idea of this photography challenge was to create an image containing disparate elements that somehow worked. Perhaps to be thought-provoking and if very lucky, aesthetically pleasing—think those adorable Facebook images of tattooed bikers in a tutu, holding a kitten while kissing their granny.

Then, as you do, my family and I headed off on a month-long adventure around  Scotland and Ireland. We packed our rain-jackets and beanies, loaded up my Audible account with the complete Harry Potter Series (thank you J. K. Rowling and Stephen Frye for my children’s continuing survival) and we toodled our way across the globe and into some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen. The Highlands of Scotland can only be described as soul-filling. I’m sure you know what i mean, that sense of awed swelling you get as your eye can’t widen enough to take it all in.

This is Ireland and Scotland. Almost every road, every turn, every stop, another delight. More waterfalls than the CGI team of the Lord of the Rings could contemplate (sorry to my Facebook friends for bombarding you with almost all of them). It was paradise. For me at least. With my pasty skin and love of photography, Ireland and Scotland were just what I needed to recover from Perth’s relentless sun, heat and high contrast lighting.

How is this a post about a photo challenge? Well, it is, obliquely. The feature image above was taken towards the end of our trip on the Ring of Kerry, near Killarney in the Republic of Ireland. It is an image that tells a larger, sadder story about Ireland and Scotland.

When I was a child, the “Keep Australia Beautiful” campaign was in full swing. The T.V. reminded us constantly about litterbugs, “Clean-up Australia Day” was a big deal and thankfully still is. We were bombarded with the message that littering was out of the question. It worked, but I’m frightened that things are slipping.

In Ireland and Scotland, almost without fail I found litter or out-right rubbish dumping on every verge, in every river, and nestled between rocks at the beautiful waterfalls. The sides of the roads were strewn with plastic bottles, cartons, food wrappers, computers monitors. and. so. on.

Yes, I was in photography heaven, but I often needed to work my framing around rubbish, edit it out in photoshop or, if possible, physically remove it. Killarney was almost the last stop in our four-week adventure and sadly, was probably the worst of the dumping sites.

This is a cropped section of the above photograph (bottom left corner) and it shows what looks like a pet crate sitting amongst the mossy rocks.

This image was taken further along the road.

When cropped in to the bottom right corner you can see the witches hat.

These images were not taken where the large tourist coaches stop, but instead reflect the local community using their amazing landscape as a rubbish dump.

So now we get to the crux of my photo challenge.

What is it that doesn’t belong? People and their rubbish.

It’s not aesthetically pleasing but I hope it is thought-provoking.


New Challenge? Photograph numbers in an unexpected way.