‘The Ouse Washes are part of a flood defense system. They are an uninhabited area of nearly six thousand acres that provides storage for floodwater that the River Great Ouse cannot discharge directly into the sea (at Kings Lynn) without overflowing its banks. The excess waters are held within the washes until tides and river flows allow discharge back into the river and thence the sea. This can take a few days or several weeks’.
‘Unfortunately, this essential safety feature results in regular flooding of a section of the A1101 main road where it crosses the washes between Welney and Suspension Bridge. This part of the road is known as the Wash Road or Welney Wash Road, but referred to as Welney Causeway.’
Well, there you have the technical explanation that somehow overlooks the beauty and drama that is a direct by-product of the floodwaters. This photograph was taken from the now impassable Wash Road, just as the rays of the sun momentarily broke through the dark winter clouds.
In the Fenlands, a house is a mute record, a repository of thoughts, memories, and lives lived. Inside, random collections of discarded objects lounge in neglected corners, like careless tenants. Torn curtains in upstairs windows, become props in a witness protection program, scanning the horizon for potential interlopers. A polyurethane oil tank cements the incongruity as the telegraph poles transmit on forgotten frequencies.
Photography differs from painting. Paintings liberate the artist from the tyranny of the subject and the objectivity of the lens. You can manipulate a photograph to create impossible realities and surreal events, but the light from objects passing through an optic is the starting point. Chance is a key element in a successful photograph, the chance alignment of distinct elements such as lighting, weather, people and place. What are the chances of standing in front of Ely Cathedral in a dense fog as a silhouetted monastic figure walks towards the Gothic doorway? Clearly, much higher than you would imagine if you photograph the Cathedral as many times as I do.
Normally I process my Fenland images in monochrome, but for this scene, you really need colour. I took this photograph of Ely Cathedral in February 2018 and we are all hoping for similarly beautiful days this year too. Best wishes to all of you for 2021, it just has to be better than 2020.
Ely Cathedral is an architectural treasure and you certainly should make a special journey to see it. I have looked at the Cathedral in every imaginable quality of light and in all seasons, but nothing reveals the grandeur of this magnificent Gothic structure better than early morning mist in Winter. The detail vanishes in the half-light like one of Monet’s evocative depictions of Rouen Cathedral; individual elements are secondary to the ultimate power and presence of the building.
This image was taken with a Lumix G9 and Olympus 12 40 f2.8 lens.