How often do you arrive at a destination only to find that the image you had in mind before leaving home isn’t possible when you arrive on site? This may be down to the weather which affects the light and mood of the shot. People or vehicles in the way of the ideal view or possibly other factors which your research had not revealed beforehand.
Earlier this summer the restoration of this very fine windmill finally saw the replacement of the sails. For a number of years it had looked naked without them so when I heard the windmill had been returned to its former glory it was time to revisit this lovely location. The mill is perched on a hill to the East of Chichester in West Sussex. It overlooks the glorious countryside of the South Downs as well as having distant views of the coastline as far as the Isle of Wight.Read more
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.
The church of St Mary the Virgin is very often called ‘The Church in the Field’ and it’s very easy to see why it has adopted this name. Situated on a hillside with the South Downs for company, this lovely countryside church has fields and footpaths as its neighbours. At this time of year the graveyard is full of white daises and when they catch the wind the scene becomes quite enchanting.
The interior has hardly changed since its origins in the 12th Century. Plain, simple and largely lit by candles; which is just how I like it. This is one of a handful of churches in the whole country with a semi circular or apsidal chancel. I visited another church recently with a similar feature in North Marden, also in West Sussex.
There are very few properties in Upwaltham but I have read that at one time the church served a medieval village. In times gone by it would have been a very tranquil place to live, but today the valley floor plays host to the main road between Chichester and Petworth – the A285. It is perhaps the only thing which detracts from this delightful church; as cars rush by, the drivers probably fail to notice ‘The Church in the Field’. If only they stopped to enjoy the delights of this truly charming Sussex countryside church, it would take them back to quieter and possibly less stressful times.
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.
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.
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.
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.