I think late Autumn and Winter are probably the best seasons for landscape photographers living in the Fenlands. I know that Cambridgeshire doesn’t have the dramatic landscapes of the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales or even the Trough of Bowland, but it does have something special.
At this time of year the landscape maintains a gritty and determined resolve. There is a complete absence of pretension and prettiness. The uneven roads and tilted telegraph poles, the isolated columns of tall trees, vast skies with fields stretching to the distant horizon makes me feel as if I have been cast adrift on an open sea.
John Clare: The Fens
There’s not a hill in all the view,
Save that a forked cloud or two
Upon the verge of distance lies
And into mountains cheats the eyes.
And as to trees the willows wear
Lopped heads as high as bushes are;
Some taller things the distance shrouds
That may be trees or stacks or clouds
Or may be nothing; still they wear
A semblance where there’s nought to spare.
I have been looking through some old hard drives and came across a set of images from a visit to Hong Kong. This was taken in 2006 with a Canon 40D and 50mm f1.8 lens. Hong Kong is a very exciting city and nothing short of paradise for a street photographer. I’ll keep checking through the various files and folders and see what else I have in storage.
The late afternoon sun transforms an ordinary scene. Windows and doorways become dark rectangular shapes and intense sunlight reflects from plaster walls. In these images of geometry and order I see echoes of the surrealist Magritte, the mysterious city streets of the Italian artist Giorgio De Chirico and the cool detachment of the American painter, Joseph Albers.
For those of you also interested in the technical aspects of photography this image was taken on a Fuji X100s using the excellent Fuji Acros film simulation setting.
Please feel free to share your own thoughts and ideas.
These are the vast open landscapes of the Cambridgeshire Fenlands that influence my paintings. This image was taken with a Fuji X100F a couple of days ago when the sky was particularly dramatic. I have carried out some basic editing – mainly tonal adjustments and sharpening – using Silver Efex Pro2. I have to say the Fuji is a great little camera, easy to take with you and it produces really good jpg’s with the Acros settings. You can’t really tell from the photograph but it was an incredibly blustery day out in the Fens….the clouds were racing across the sky. Really should have used a tripod and a long exposure to capture the movement; maybe next time.
A key member of the Arte Povera group, Mario Merz produced expansive mixed-media paintings, sculptures, and installations, through which he propagated an egalitarian, human-centered vision. Through art, he counteracted what he saw as the dehumanizing forces of industrialization and consumerism. Together with compatriots including Jannis Kounellis and Michelangelo Pistoletto, Merz eschewed fine art materials in favor of everyday and organic matter, like food, earth, found objects, and neon tubing. In 1968, he presented his first igloo, which became a motif in his work, representing the fundamental human need for shelter, nourishment, and connection to nature. By 1970, the Fibonacci sequence became central to his work, shaping the tables and spiraling forms for which he was known, and incorporated into his igloos and canvases. In these Merz sought limitlessness, against the confines of modern life.
The conceptual artist Richard Long would have enjoyed using these industrial machines. On the road leading to the village of Coveney, old irrigation ditches are being refurbished. Giant earth moving equipment cuts through the clay subsoil in V cross sections, like a knife through butter. Water immediately flows into the channel and mirrors the sky. These large scale sculptural interventions will never find their way to the Tate Modern turbine hall…but they really should.
Saint Bartholomew (Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:14, Acts 1:13) never set foot in Milan but his statue has been the talk of the town for the past four and a half centuries. Just ask Mark Twain. Then again, the tradition of Bartholomew, which purports that he was skinned alive and beheaded in Albanopolis, Armenia (modern-day Turkey), is the stuff of legends. Bartholomew, now the patron saint of tanners, is usually depicted with a large knife and holding his own skin.
In many ways this image reveals the power of compact modern digital cameras to capture detail. When I took this shot of the famous statue of St Bartholomew in the Milan Duomo I was aware of the father and daughter figures to the right of the frame. However, I didn’t fully appreciate the significance of their body language until I edited the image later.
This morning the low sun cast long shadows on the road to Coveney. The farm vehicles were busy churning up the heavy clay soil and making new tracks along the lane. My road bike with limited tyre tread added to the precarious nature of the journey. It is a beautiful time of the year in the Fenland.