alan frost photography

in monochrome with occasional colour lapses

Posts tagged ‘rural’

Dorset in the snow

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The number of times we experience snow in southern England are relatively rare, although we have had two quite significant falls in the past few weeks. What perhaps is more unusual, is for me to be in the right place and have the time to make some photographs of a ‘white’ landscape which is so well suited to monochrome.

In the past few days we have had the ‘Mini Beast from the East’, a lesser version of ‘The Beast from the East’ which took place at the turn of the month. I have read this morning that ‘The Beast from the East 3’ is being forecast for Easter. I am not a great fan of this naming of weather events, but the media machine clearly benefits.

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Yesterday I was in Dorset and virtually all the roads were passable with care. I only had to turn round once where drifting snow had blocked the way ahead. I was fortunate to have good cloud cover as well. I was pleased the sun didn’t shine, as this would only have increased contrast and made setting the correct exposure even more challenging.

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I thoroughly enjoyed a cold but photographically productive few hours finding suitable locations and compositions.

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The snow simplifies the landscape. Shapes, lines, form and texture come to the fore. The snow helps to emphasise all these ingredients which are always important to a black and white photographer.

Do click on any of the images to view a larger version.

Thinking outside the standard box!

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There are of course many standard aspect ratios which photographers use on a regular basis to crop an image. The obvious ones that immediately spring to mind are 3 x 2, 5 x 4, 1 x 1 and 16 x 9. There are very good reasons why these are widely used but there are also images which require a ‘non standard’ approach. This picture is a perfect example.

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New Project – First shots and initial thoughts

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Regular readers will know that I am starting a new long term project this year. I wrote about it here.

In a sentence I have defined an area of countryside to photograph which covers about 30 sq miles to the north of where I live; it’s a mix of chalk downs, farmland and woodland and includes a section of the South Downs Way.

At the beginning of anything new there is a sense of excitement and anticipation. A desire to make the first image not knowing what the coming weeks and months ahead will produce. What direction will the project take as it evolves over time? Who knows, but I am aware the project will require a title at some point in the future once a clear sense of direction has been esyablished. Whilst I already have a number of ideas as to what this might be it’s far too early to commit, as conceptually it may well change as I become influenced and inspired by the varied scenery I discover. I want to immerse myself in the landscape, capture what I see, not necessarily for its beauty but because that’s how it is – an element of documenting the countryside will form part of the project.

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Barn roof – just when I thought I had finished.

The Barn

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Earlier this week I made a point of going out to take some more images for my Churches Project. I was moderately pleased with my afternoon’s work, had packed away all my gear and was making my way back to the car. I had parked in front of an open barn and as I walked from the church towards my car I noticed the afternoon light glinting on the rear of the barn and in particular the long corrugated roof which nearly reached the ground. The rivets all pointed towards a small group of ivy clad trees with countryside beyond, all of which I rather liked.

I couldn’t resist reaching for my camera just one last time. Whether I have a camera with me or not, my eyes are constantly observing what is around me, looking for the light, interesting shapes and compositions. Even when on first impression the subject itself may not be that appealing, (in this case the corrugated roof of an old farm building), the direction of the light and other elements which make up the picture may be enough to warrant getting my camera out of it’s bag. So I took one last shot before heading home and I am glad I did.

Cwmorthin slate quarry in Snowdonia – the lower section

Cwmorthin Quarry – a bleak and now lonely place – previously a place of great activity, endeavour and danger, as miners went about their difficult and very physical work in many miles of dark, wet tunnels below the surface. As I sit at my desk in a warm, well lit room, with a hot cup of tea for sustenance, typing these words on a Mac keyboard, I find it very hard to imagine what life would have really been like for the people who lived and toiled here many decades ago.

 

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Cwmorthin is a substantial Victorian-era slate mine above the village of Tanygrisau, close to the town of Blaenau Ffestiniog in North Wales. Having left my car in a small car park, I together with a few other photographers walked up a fairly steep incline until we reached Llyn Cwmorthin, a lake overlooked by some derelict buildings which at one time were the barracks for the mine workers. Work on the mine first began in the early 1800’s, with heavy underground development starting around 1860. Some access to the mines is still possible but I for one was very happy to stay above ground, take in the atmosphere, and try and reflect my feelings for this harsh environment through my photography.

Although mine workings largely came to an end in 1970, some small scale mining still took place in the 80’s and 90’s eventually ceasing altogether in 1997. Flooding in mines was always a problem, so large pumps were used to remove water from the many miles of tunnels on a number of floors. Wall and roof failures were a constant hazard for the mineworkers and it’s of no surprise that numerous chambers have collapsed preventing access to large parts of the mine.

The photographs in this entry were taken either by the lake or along a wet and stoney footpath, lined by a slate fence, which took us past a chapel with only a pair of conifers for company. Sadly the roof had been removed from the chapel in fear I guess that it might collapse and be a danger to visitors. Later we climbed a long and fairly steep path to the upper section of Cwmorthin Quarry and this will feature in a future entry.

 

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