Modern technology insists on ever-higher pixel counts as if the weight of detail was the most essential component in a photograph. If only we could witness more, ‘capture’ more, encompass more, our desire for evidence would finally be sated. The tsunami of information swamps us, flooding every nook and cranny of our lives, absorbing and occupying our natural capacity. The increasingly futile quest to record the minutiae of the visible world is a ‘will-o’-the-wisp’, a shadow play, a distraction. When the fog rolls across the Fens we stop looking, the obsession with calculation, measurement and accounting stalls and we are free to see.
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.
Lumix G9 Olympus 12-40 mm lens
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.
Canon 5D 11, 70-200 f4 Lens
Photographers know that magical moment when the receding tide of daylight and Edison’s mechanical invention compete for ascendancy. A transient beauty momentarily holds sway in this daily exchange of energy. Ely Cathedral radiates a ‘spiritual’ intensity for believers and non-believers alike as a phalanx of street lamps are recruited as night sentinels, guiding the way.
Marcel Duchamp had a conceptual art piece called ‘Black Widow’, it was a play on the notion of windows and widows, Newnham College in Cambridge is no less surreal with their entry, ‘Autumn Window’. There is an optical illusion taking place here but I can’t quite decide how or why. I guess it has something to do with defeated expectations…we are accustomed to windows as architectural features within the context of a brick or concrete facade These are disembodied windows trapped in autumn undergrowth. The windows appear against a fluid, dissolving and decaying backdrop.