Winter can be a rather bleak time of year. The days are short and the weather is often a combination of wind and rain, cold frosty nights and occasionally snow. There are also days when blue skies return and the sun shines, which serves as a reminder that Spring may not be too far away. As a prelude to these clear bright interludes, the start of the day is often heralded by cool, misty or foggy mornings. I love these conditions for making images.Read more
Regular readers will know that I am a great one for projects or bodies of work both large and small. Some last many months, even years and others are achieveable in only a day. They all have merit. Stand out single or what I like to call ‘Hero’ images do have their place but somehow the portrayal of a location and the prevailing conditions can really only be told in a series of pictures.
This selection of images were all taken during one visit to Cuckmere Haven in East Sussex.
I wanted to use my newly acquired Sony RX100 Mk3 compact camera to make a set of monochorme images for the first time and be able to assess the quality of the results. Very simply I decided beforehand to try and capture the location using no more than a dozen pictures; in fact there are eleven in this post.
I enjoy being in unfamiliar locations and taking photographs. My mind is fresh to the possibilities of what I might see and capture in camera. Weather plays a big part of course and I was fortunate on this particular occassion to find the area shrouded in low cloud and mist. These conditions are ideal for black and white photography. I can adjust the contrast to suit each image to portray not only what the eye saw but how the scene felt to me.
All the pictures are landscape in format with a 3 x 2 aspect ratio for consistency. I think this is important if a set of images is to be presented as a harmonious panel of work.
As I walked around the lagoon I found myself being drawn to some minimilist compositions which I rather like.
None more so than the picture below of a single post with the far bank just visible in the distance.
As for the Sony RX100 camera – well I have yet to make prints, but for the purposes of this blog, the quality of the RAW files is excellent.
Water, posts and reflections always have an appeal and these things all came together for my last image, with the added bonus of a sheep in the centre of the frame.
This part of East Sussex is a very popular with tourists visiting not just Cuckmere Haven but also the Seven Sister cliffs (the first image) and further to the east, Beachy Head. Although there were other people around, I felt quite alone here. Alone with nature – the mist largely obscuring my visibility of people or distractions I didn’t want or need to witness. I can easily imagine how this area might look bathed in sunshine with many people to be seen in every direction. Call me melanchonic but give me the mist and solitude any day of the week please.
To enjoy these images at their best, please click on each one to view a larger version.
……..then try, try, and try again.
It goes without saying that any outdoor photography is weather dependent. Sometimes the conditions are just right, and at other times they work against you.
This was very much the case during a recent workshop in Dorset with another photographer – Anthony Blake. Throughout the day it had been overcast and misty. As we approached our final destination before the sun set, we walked up a hill to the site of St Catherine’s Chapel in the hope that we would enjoy a great view of Milton Abbey through the trees. On arriving unfortunately the Abbey was nowhere to be seen. A veil of mist had descended in the valley and obscured its view. We waited a while but if anything the mist was getting worse not better.
We returned to the car and drove around looking for different viewpoint without any success. Unfortunately the light was fading fast but we decided to try one more time and return to the first location in the wishful hope that the mist might have lifted.
Much to our surprise and delight the Abbey could now be seen and you can see the result in the image above. An ethereal view of the Abbey with the mist hanging in the valley but with a clearly visible outline of the hills in the distance. I was very fortunate to capture this view…….and in doing so I couldn’t help but be reminded of the saying which I have used for the title of this post.
dew on hand of wool
posts and wire in mist belong
cold fingers missing
I don’t know what you think but when it comes to giving a photograph a title it can be something of a struggle. At best a title can enhance the image; at worst it can be bland and add nothing at all. Some are purely factual which can at least inform the viewer, but these lack any artistic merit. I have even read a few titles and to be perfectly frank they were a distraction and it would have been much better to have let the image stand on it’s own two feet. There are of course occasions when the photographer feels the need not just to give the photograph a title but also a very lengthy description, which somehow almost becomes more important than the image itself.
All of this got me thinking, particularly as I have almost certainly been guilty of poor and uninspiring titles, overlong descriptions, the list goes on…….
I can’t profess to be a great lover of poetry but I do see a definite connection between the art of photography and writing poems as a creative art. What if the two were combined? Well it’s hardly the most original idea but I thought I would give it a try.
One of the simplest forms of poetry is Haiku, a Japanese poem of just seventeen syllables on three lines – five on the the first line, seven on the second and five on the last line. Traditionally the poem evokes images of the natural world. There is no requirement for rhyme and whilst the number of syllables on each line has changed over time I thought I would stick with the original guidelines. I like the minimalist approach and the strict parameters prevent verbosity – something I could be accused of in this post!!
So below the photograph is my very first attempt at a Haiku verse combined with one of my ‘Chichester Harbour’ project images. ‘Lost glove’ is an apt, albeit unimaginative title, but I think the verse adds a little something extra. Masters of this form of poetry would probably mock the result, but I enjoyed linking words to an image. Will it be something I will use again? I can’t answer that but I’m pleased to have had a go. Your thoughts as always would be most welcome on both the image and the words!
As I look out of the window and type these words, I can see a blue sky; the sun is shining; a gentle breeze moves through the trees and I know if I stepped outside I would be greeted by a pleasant temperature of about 20c. Not hot, but quite acceptable for the middle of August.
What’s not to like?
Well I don’t want to complain or come across as if I am wishing my life away, because neither of these statements are true. However at this time of year I do start to look forward to the autumn and indeed to the winter. These seasons suit my photographic style so much better. The days are shorter, the sun is much lower in the sky, the trees have lost their leaves and the weather has the potential to be so much more atmospheric.
This photograph – ‘Tree in Winter’s mist’ – is typical of the conditions I like. The sun has yet to penetrate the early morning mist, and the tree is bereft of its summer clothing, revealing its winter skeletal form. Nor did I have to get up at 4am to find the sun this low in the sky. A distinct advantage as far as I am concerned!
As I come to the end of this short entry, the sun is still shining outside and the garden looks as though there is work to be done. So out I venture with a trowel, shears and a garden fork. In a few weeks time I am more likely to be tempted to grab my bag, select a camera and a couple of lenses and see what the autumn season has in store. I can’t wait, but in the meantime I shall enjoy the rest of the summer and tidy the garden.