alan frost photography

in monochrome with occasional colour lapses

Posts from the ‘south downs’ category

South Downs – a new gallery page

In September 2013 my nephew and I walked the length of the South Downs Way from Winchester in Hampshire to Eastbourne in East Sussex. A National Trail in the South Downs National Park, the Way is some 100 miles long, and is popular with both walkers and cyclists, and of course photographers!

 

Towards Cocking

Towards Cocking

 

I have now created a new gallery page for the South Downs which includes 42 monochrome photographs, the vast majority of which were taken during the walk itself. Please click here to see the entire gallery. I have included a few images in this post but I hope you will click through to the gallery and view the others as well.

 

Ashcombe Mill

Ashcombe Mill

Looking back at a selection of photographs is likely to trigger important memories and the challenge of walking the South Downs Way will always live long in my mind. From a photographic point of view these same images also define a style or processing technique which I felt comfortable with at that particular time. Two years on I am still very happy with this collection and although the camera equipment I now use has changed, I think my overall approach today would largely be the same as it was then.

I may well repeat the walk in the future and should I do so, I would walk the trail in the opposite direction by starting in Eastbourne and finishing in Winchester. I would also choose a another time of year, as the landscape would look very different to the conditions I enjoyed in late summer.

 

Firle Beacon

Firle Beacon

 

To read more about the walk here are the links to earlier entries.

Last leg first – Walking the South Downs Way

Windmills on the Way

Less is more when capturing the South Downs

100 miles along the South Downs Way and the 100th Blog Entry!

 

Field of curves

Field of curves

 

South Downs Gallery Page

West Dean Estate – walking the dog plus some shutter therapy.

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At about 3.30 yesterday afternoon our cocker spaniel wanted to be taken for a walk. He always does at this time of day, and the temptation is to revisit one of many well trodden paths because it’s familiar and easy to do. On this occasion I decided to go somewhere new. So I took him in the car, and with a camera in my coat pocket we headed towards a part of The West Dean Estate to the north of the village of Chilgrove and walk from there. There was some lovely late afternoon sun mixed in with light and dark clouds. I just love these weather conditions for both walking and photography.

 

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By way of some background, The West Dean Estate covers approximately 6,400 acres (2,590 hectares) along the Sussex South Downs. It stretches over 6 miles (9.7 kms) from the South Downs escarpment overlooking the Sussex Weald to the edge of the Trundle Hill overlooking the English Channel and the Isle of Wight. While much of the village of West Dean and West Dean College is sheltered within the Lavant valley, the Estate rises to its highest point of almost 750 feet (280 m) on the top of the Downs. The estate is a mixture of farmland, commercial woodland and is home to West Dean College and the village of West Dean itself. There are about 20 miles of footpaths and bridleways, including a section of The South Downs Way.

 

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Interestingly all of the heating and hot water needs of West Dean College (and parts of the village) are met entirely, and on a sustained basis, by using wood fuel grown on the West Dean Estate. The biomass district heating scheme was one of the first, and remains one of the largest of its kind, in the UK.

 

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I was pleased I made the effort to walk our spaniel along some new tracks. Wherever I go I always find something to photograph and in the space of just an hour or so, I was able to return with some images hopefully worth sharing on my blog.

All of the photographs were taken with an Olympus OMD EM5 and 1.7mm f1.8 Olympus lens and processed in Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro2.

100 miles along the South Downs Way and the 100th Blog Entry!

Firle Beacon
Firle Beacon, The South Downs

When I typed the words for my last entry ‘Less is more’ I realised two things. Firstly that it was time to conclude this series of entires about my walk along the South Downs Way and secondly that whatever the subject of the next entry, it would be the 100th post since I started this blog back in June 2012.

So it is rather fitting that this post should mark the conclusion of a 100 mile long distance walk alongside the fact that this is the 100th entry. When I started the walk I had a definite goal in sight. Quite simply to complete the walk in the planned period of time. The same cannot be said for this blog. What started as a whim, has turned into a regular and most enjoyable hobby. On average I post about five times a month, mainly at weekends, simply because this is when I can find the time to sit down, write the words and select the appropriate photographs having processed them beforehand.

This blog has proved to be a journal of my photography. The places or events I have been to and the images I have taken. Sometimes I will express my thoughts or write about the cameras, lenses and equipment I have used. But one thing is for sure – nothing is planned too far in advance. All the posts are a spontaneous reaction to an event, a particular photograph or series of images, or thoughts that have entered my mind which I have wanted to record and share with others – Sharing does of course assume that there are other readers, not just my wife and close family!

So back to the main reason for this 100th post. A photographic conclusion to a great experience. I shall never forget walking with my nephew Ian down the steep slope from Beachy Head and into Eastbourne, to be greeted by my family and his father. This varied selection of images were all taken on the walk and will always remind me of wonderful time enjoying the beauty of the South Downs.

Gates and posts
Gates and Posts
Gathering Storm (2).jpg
Gathering Storm. Near Birling Gap
Downland mist
Downland Mist. Near Cocking
Towards East Meon
Towards east Meon
Windswept tree
Windswept Tree. Near Ditchling Beacon
The Seven Sisters
The Seven Sisters. Looking west from above Birling Gap
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The finishing post after 100 miles.
Ian on the right and me on the left.
The other entries about our walk along the South Downs Way are as follows:-
And so to the future – Another long distance walk perhaps? That I don’t know, but I will be starting work on my 101st entry very soon.

Less is more when capturing the South Downs

Downland fence
Downland fence

It is hard to believe that two months have passed since I completed my walk along the South Downs Way and here I am still writing about the experience and the photographic lessons I learnt.

I guess that if you mention the South Downs to a bystander they will conjure up in their minds a wide expansive view of the Sussex Weald and Downland. Large vistas which are truly beautiful but incredibly difficult to capture in a photograph. It is perhaps one of the reasons so called ‘holiday snaps’ never quite do justice to the scene we witnessed. We are tempted to try and include everything we see in one photo and whilst it may be a good record of what we saw, it often fails as a photograph. It might lack a good composition, any form of focal point to draw the eye, be poorly lit or quite simply not truly capture the feelings that the photographer felt at the time.

I can’t deny that some of the images I took fell into the ‘large vista’ category but I was also mindful to look closer and try and simplify the landscape through careful composition, concentrating on just two or three key elements and in so doing try and capture the essence of the South Downs and not just the grand view.

So this entry includes a selection of images all taken from the South Downs Way, where less is hopefully more.

Field of curves
Field of curves
The straw bale
Straw bale
Lone cow
Lone cow
Downland field
Downland field
No shelter
No shelter
Dead tree
Dead tree
Gateway to the sky
Gateway to the sky

Twisted tree
Twisted Chanctonbury tree
Do these photographs capture something about the South Downs? 
Do they capture the feelings I experienced when I first saw and composed the image in the viewfinder? Do they do justice to the beauty of the area and its countryside? 
So many questions and of course I have my own answers and anyone viewing these images will have their own opinions. In the end they are the view I chose to take, my interpretation and my treatment. They give me pleasure and I hope others might just feel the same way.
Thank you for reading my ‘blog’ and do leave a comment if you have anything you would like to say.

Windmills on the Way

Jill Windmill
Windmill ‘Jill’ at Clayton

The South Downs is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but in addition to the glorious rolling downland landscape it is enhanced by man made structures, in particular the windmills which shine like beacons when the sun lights up their sails and the ‘smock’ or mill itself.

Walking the South Downs Way provides a great opportunity to see these charming buildings from near and far. At the top of this page is an image of one of a pair of windmills at Clayton to the north of Brighton. This one is fondly called ‘Jill’ and there are no prizes for guessing the other one is called ‘Jack’. Of the two ‘Jill’ is the one that stands out and is very visible from a distance. Its white smock and four sails is in stark contrast to ‘Jack’, which is painted black and has no sails. The next two images were taken from West Hill to the east of Pyecombe.

Windmill Jill
‘Jill’ in the distance
Distant windmill
Afternoon light on ‘Jill’ 

The other windmill which regularly appears in the landscape is Ashcombe Mill at Kingston, near Lewes in East Sussex. Like ‘Jill’ it has a white smock and currently only has two sails. Originally built in 1828 it was destroyed by a gale in 1916. Since 2009 work started to rebuild this windmill and when completed will have six sails. The two images below show Ashcombe Mill in its downland setting.

Towards Ashcombe Mill
Ashcombe Mill in the far distance, surrounded by the downland landscape

Ashcombe Mill
Ashcombe Mill at Kingston near Lewes

One day I will return and visit Ashcombe Mill itself, when the restoration is complete and the windmill has been returned to its former glory.