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.
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.