Stand on a beach long enough and one thing that really strikes me is the enormous range of textures, particularly on a falling tide. Ripples, water, channels, rusting remains of sea defences, bits of foam, flotsam and jetsam – you name it and it just materialises before your eyes as the tide recedes. Add a bit dramatic light from a clearing weather system and there are countless images to be had. The human element is, at least on the east coast of England, almost always present as well, just to add to the mix. So, this is not a typical minimal long exposure, rather an attempt to capture some of the interplay of natural and human elements along this ever eroding coast. As I’ve been moving from a full-frame Nikon system to the much lighter Fujifilm X-Series, these images are also the first I’ve taken using Lee Filter’s smaller Seven5 system, liking the results.
The engine room at Papplewick Pumping Station near Nottingham. Spent a wonderful couple of hours there photographing the magnificent beam engines and boiler house at this preserved piece of industrial heritage. These buildings were not built as public buildings and for decades few saw the design and detail that went into their construction. Papplewick, in particular, has a wonderful symmetry to its design, a symmetry that repeats over the three levels of the engine house and even into the more utilitarian boiler house with its six symmetrically arranged coal boilers.
When the well is dry, we know the worth of water – Benjamin Franklin
As I child one of my early memories was of our dad taking photographs on what I later learned was a 1940s vintage Zeiss Ikon folding camera – I have it to this day. He’d been in the airforce and I recall there were a few board-mounted black and white prints of places as diverse as Paris and the Shetland Islands that he’d made himself in his own darkroom. Years later, as a graduate student, I’d set up my own darkroom in a cupboard of a flat I rented using his enlarger.
It clearly sparked an interest and as a teenager I was given a Russian Zenit-EM 35mm with it’s 58mm f/2 Helios lens. I probably had that camera for longer than just about any other since and it served me well as a student geologist. Later, I splurged on a second camera a Soviet Lubitel 2 120 roll film twin lens reflex. While there were undoubtedly better cameras around in the 1980s, they were well beyond my budget and I can’t help but feel that the shear fun I had using these manual cameras instilled my long term interest in photography.
So, no surprise that I recently spent a thoroughly enjoyable few hours wandering around the iconic location of Bodiam Castle in Sussex on the south coast of England. Wind direction and light conspired to make this view the one that worked best rather than the more usual image that shows the castle completely isolated by it’s moat but it was the pure fun of making it that will be my lasting memory of the day.
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Much Meddling in the Marsh may be a rather corny pun on the Kenneth Horne radio comedy show Much-Binding-in-the-Marsh broadcast over half a century ago on the BBC. However, it rather aptly describes the various attempts I’ve made over the years to capture an image of St. Thomas à Becket church on Romney Marsh. Seems a wet and rainy October Monday finally gave me a chance to photograph this iconic location and capture some of its characteristic isolation, minus the usual summer weekend tourists.