The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

Odin's Chair - and Episode 85 of Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres

Odin's Chair, in Kirkcudbright, Scotland

The Galloway Hoard has been described as the richest collection of rare and unique Viking-age objects ever found in Britain.

Buried around 900AD, it was discovered in Dumfries and Galloway in 2014 by a metal-detectorist, and then eventually acquired by National Museums Scotland and whipped away to Edinburgh.

There is currently a display of some of the items in the Kirkcudbright Galleries, and to mark it's arrival, a giant, larger than life Viking Throne was commissioned to be set up for people to enjoy, clamber over, and take lots of selfies sitting on it.

Furniture designer and maker, Ian Cameron-Smith ( was approached to create the 3-times-larger-size chair, and he enlisted his son, also called Ian, to help with the rune carvings, along with Callum King to make the also-3-times-larger-size metal ravens to go on it.

I've known Ian for several years, so was delighted to be asked by Dumfries & Galloway Life to do a shoot for the magazine about it.

Along with Ian, Ian and Callum, we were joined by body builder, Adrian Philpot, dressed in a Viking outfit supplied by the Galloway Longfhada Vikings - a reenactment group based in Dumfries – to be our Odin.

Odin is the King of Asgard, and leader of the Viking Gods in Norse mythology. He has one eye, and two ravens - Huginn and Muninn (thought and memory).

However, as great as all this seemed in my head before the shoot, the reality of photographing anyone next to a giant chair is it makes them look tiny.

(your photographer now knows what it feels like to be a hobbit)

My solution, for the most part, was to use a wide-angle lens and get in close. This had the effect of making anyone nearer look much larger than the background.

Where lighting was concerned, it was a bright, sunny day. However, at the point we began the shoot, the sun started to disappear behind the building next to the chair, throwing it into shadow.

I set up an off-camera flash to the left, which emulated the hard light of the sun, and cast some nice shadows from the leaves of a tree next to it. I was also able to place a large reflector against another tree to the right, which was still in the sunlight, so was able to bounce some of that light back onto the chair and fill in the darker shadows. The combination helps to give a strong three-dimensional feel to the images.

The article about the Galloway Hoard, and the making of Odin's Chair are in the December 2021 issue of Dumfries & Galloway Life magazine.

Meanwhile enjoy Episode 85, where I chat about the Odin's Chair photoshoot and show more behind-the-scenes images. I also give critique on images submitted to the podcast.

And if you decide to click through and watch it directly on YouTube (rather than here on the blog), then you can watch the Live Chat Replay and see the comments people are writing in real time as the podcast progresses.


1:58 - Welcome, what's coming up, greetings and comments
04:45 - Photographing "Odin's Chair"
26:58 - Introduction to the Critique Section
27:58 - Vandana - High rise architecture
33:30 - Sandra - side lighting on a still life
42:11 - Garry - old book pages
48:46 - Roy - wishing well
1:04:12 - Coming up next week
1:05:56 - End

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And, or course, if you would like to submit a photo for feedback, or just ask a photography related question, then either email me or join my Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres Facebook group and I will put it into the following podcast:


Anonymous said...

Amazing photographs, and what a great Odin!

Kim Ayres said...

Many thanks :)

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