A man leans forward held up by the wind, his jacket fills with wind and his shape echoes the Hoy hills behind. The image is dark and storm clouds gather.

Photographing the wind

image: Gunnie Moberg D135/5/448

Gunnie Moberg liked weather. She photographed sun and storms, rain and ice, snow and rainbows, and she also managed to photograph the wind. Here is her husband Tam held by the wind. This is how to photograph wind, showing it, making it visible.

There are many Orkney dialect  words for wind, words that make it visible, palpable. Here are some taken from Gregor Lamb’s Orkney Wordbook. 

Baiver to get blown about in the wind

Batt a sudden gust of wind

Beu the roaring of the wind (also the sound made by a cow)

Blouster a gale

Cast A good cast o wind a favourable wind

Ceul 1 puff of wind / 2 clouds in the sky

Dud a gusting wind, esp. a snowy dud which heralds the onset of snow

Fren wild, used of the sea or the wind

Glouster of the weather or a person to storm violently

Gluff  sudden blast or puff of wind

Gously, gousy of weather blustery

Gouster, guster, verb 1 to speak loudly / 2 of the wind to gust. noun 1 sharp breeze / 2 an outburst of language / 3 loud noise

Grey a gentle breeze tae grey up  of the rise of the wind

Gushel a sudden prolonged breeze of wind

Hamsy of weather or a person blustery

Hushle a strong, gusty, dry wind of short duration

Husky stormy

Keul a keul o wind a puff of wind

Kinlit of the wind fickle

Ku-kwacks a period of blustery weather in May so called as it supposedly induces a shaking illness in cattle (cow quake)

Linner a strong gust of wind

Neddo’s craas little black clouds on the horizon portending wind or bad weather (craas poss. crows)

Ongelid a strong gale

Reevis a strong gale, literally a tearing wind

Skreever a howling gales, literally a tearing or scratching wind

Strikyar a gale of wind

Swap a gust of wind

Sweevie, sweevy a short sharp gust of wind

Tray, trey stubborn especially of the wind

Waffle 1 to twist, used especially of wind and rain beating down growing crop / 2 to flutter in the wind

Wheerny a gentle breeze (also a rumour)

Whiddy of wind changing direction also of animals and people temperamental

 The book is available for loan from the library and people wishing to research further can use the Orkney Room with lots of words and a fair amount about weather too. In his 1867 book An Explanation of the Popular Weather Prognostics of Scotland On Scientific Principles, the Rev Clouston, a Sandwick minister who founded the Orkney Natural History Society (Stromness Museum), attempts to find scientific basis in weather predictions.

John Firth in his Reminiscences of an Orkney Parish details how the airt of the wind on Beltane Day can be used as a weather prognostic:

‘If the wind is sooth, there’ll be bread for every mooth;

If the wind is east, there’ll be hunger for man an’ baste;

If the wind is west, the crop’ll be lang an’ slushy;

If the wind is nort’, the crop’ll be short and trig.’
From John Firth’s  1974 publication Reminiscences of an Orkney Parish   p124

cover of a pamphlet by Rev Clouston showing an etching of low hanging mamatus clouds

Rev. Clouston 1867 Archive reference D68/8/4 and also available in the Orkney Room

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