I met children's author, Joan Lennon, at Wigtown Book Festival last year, and was chatting to her about the "Authors as Characters" series of images I've been creating. She was interested, enthusiastic and said she could feel a wide range of possibilities all bubbling up.
One difficulty was she lived about 150 miles away, but we kept in touch after the festival and ideas were bounced back and forth. Eventually we settled on Sophie from "Howl's Moving Castle" by Diana Wynne Jones, and last month Joan came over to this corner of Scotland to do the shoot.
It wasn't a story I was familiar with, however it turned out to have been made into an animated movie by Hayao Miyazaki - the man behind the Oscar winning "Spirited Away" - and I enjoyed watching it for research.
Although the heroine of the story is a young woman, she is transformed by a witch into someone much older. Seeking a cure for the curse, Sophie wanders into the mountains where she encounters a living scarecrow, and this was the scene we decided to recreate for the photo.
Needing someone to play the part of the scarecrow, there was only one person I would think of turning to - the wonderful author, storyteller and good friend, Renita Boyle, who has helped me on many of the photos in this series.
Costumes at the ready, we met up in Gatehouse of Fleet in the evening, and drove up a narrow back road into the hills where I wanted to get the shot near sunset.
Joan dressed up as Sophie
It took a while to get the light balance right. With the sun directly behind them, Renita and Joan were thrown into silhouette, so I needed to use an off-camera flash to light them back up again. By the time I'd worked it out, the sun had already stared to disappear behind the hills and we were plunged into shadow, so we had to climb further up our side of the valley to catch it up again.
We were rewarded with a rather lovely view once we reached the next plateau, though didn't have much time to get the shot done before the sun disappeared once again.
View down over Gatehouse to the Irish Sea beyond
With the shoot over, we were able to relax, enjoy the light and carefully work our way back down the hill to the car.
Quick group photo as the sun disappears
However, it wasn't completely over for me. Back home editing needed to be done and Renita needed to be transformed a little more convincingly into a scarecrow via Photoshop.
Looking at the final image, Renita commented she was delighted for once in her life to be "stick thin"...
The final photo - Sophie encounters the scarecrow
As always, feel free to click on the photos for slightly bigger versions.