Churches in the landscape – South Stoke

In my last post (Idsworth Church) I touched on the topic of choosing a suitable subject which would inspire me for my panel of images for the ‘ARPS Distinction with the Royal Photographic Society. The choice is proving to be quite a challenge in its own right and this is before I start taking any photographs worthy of a submission. Fortunately I am not up against the clock and I will take my time. It’s a bit like a driving test and I would like to pass first time, so it will pay me to prepare properly and take as much time as I need before I apply for an assessment date. Between now and then there is likely to be long gap. The selection of a subject or theme is only the starting point. I will need to undertake a lot of research into my chosen topic, particularly if this involves travelling from one location to another, either at home or abroad. I am sure it will involve being outdoors and therefore I am also in the hands of weather and the changing seasons, which could very well determine the success or otherwise of each photographic session. In total the panel is made up of 15 images, which is quite a number when you consider they all need to be of the same high standard; work as a cohesive panel and all conform to the original brief. I will also seek the guidance and critical encouragement (hopefully!) from a suitable mentor or mentors.

Given that I have not yet jumped the first hurdle (the one called subject matter) for the moment its a question of exploring different ideas and seeing what may or may not work. I think I will know when I find a theme which inspires me; for without the passion and enthusiasm for the subject, how can I expect to produce a strong set images? In truth I can’t, so until that day comes the thinking and the search goes on.

One possibility is ‘churches in the landscape’ and with this in mind I thought I would head off for a tiny hamlet called South Stoke, which is to the north of Arundel in West Sussex and sits alongside the River Arun. I had never been to South Stoke before, although it is clearly visible from the train between London Victoria from the South Coast.

It was a typical winter’s day, the recent snow having been replaced by milder, grey and wet conditions. The church is very pretty but the image I had in mind when I studied the map, was of a church alongside the river, did not materialise. The church steeple was visible from the other side of the river bank, but other buildings and trees prevented a clear view of the church itself. However I was not going to leave the location without any images so here are a selection depicting the church and its immediate surroundings.

Winter light on the Arun
Winter light on the Arun

South Stoke Church
South Stoke Church

Trees by the River Arun
Trees by the Arun

Candelabra in South Stoke Church
Candelabra inside the Church

There was one bonus while I was there – a barn owl. I switched lenses and on its maximum focal length I took a shot. Frankly it was awful and not even worthy of an appearance on this blog. It did make me think how skilled and patient nature photographers have to be, to capture these beautiful birds in flight.

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