Tag Archives: landscape

The British Landscape Club

The British Landscape Club was dreamed up to promote the exotic origins and fabulous history of the British countryside. Anyone can join, there are no membership fees and all we need is an email address so we can send you occasional updates about the site and tidbits of information.

There’s also a book – a bit of a club manual – about Britain’s landscape: The Lie of the Land – an under-the-field guide to the British landscape.

This site needs an occasional plug. I have a copy of the book, and I pop over to the web site for the occasional update and new item. If you are in any way interested in the landscapes, history and story of the British Isles, bookmark the BLC now.

http://www.britishlandscape.org

As the inestimable Ian Vince has reminded me, there is a section of the site which sees regular updates, too.

http://www.britishlandscape.org/reading-the-landscape/index.htm

The best laid plans

As you may be aware I am partial to what I term “Dawn Raids”. This is where I head out very early to catch the sun rising over the Medway. In the summer, this can mean getting up at very silly times of the night, but nearing midwinter the sun gets up at a more civilised hour.

The weather forecast looked good, with perhaps a smattering of cloud. It would be a low tide at around 8am, and the sun was due to rise at about the same time. It all looked set fair for a December Dawn Raid to Upnor.

I got there in plenty of time, set the EOS 7D up on the tripod with the Sigma 10–20mm wide angle, pointed at the horizon where the sun would appear, and I waited. While I waited, I took a couple of shots with the PowerShot G9. A church clock tolled the hour, more cloud rolled in, and there was the merest hint of pink … and that was it. I had been hoping for some blazing oranges and golds, moody cloudscapes, lit from below, something worth all the effort. It was a bit disappointing, to be honest, but I suppose that’s the chance you take. You can never guarantee anything in life.

December Upnor December Upnor December Upnor December Upnor December Upnor December Upnor December Upnor December Upnor December Upnor December Upnor December Upnor

September Dawn – a set on Flickr

One of my infamous Dawn Raids occurred this morning. It so happened the weather was forecast to be clear, and there was a high tide coinciding with sunrise, give or take a few minutes. I headed out to Hoo St Werburgh, which has rapidly become my local sunrise location of choice.

Swapping lenses on a DSLR always increases the possibility of dust and grot getting into the camera body. Only when I got home and downloaded the images did I spot a small hair in the bottom right corner of many images, caused by my holding an uncapped lens in the crook of my arm while swapping them about. At wider apertures the fibre was all but invisible, but stopping down meant it became clearer and clearer. I’ve had to do a bit of selective cropping and cloning to tidy things up. I was lucky, really, it only encroached in a corner. It has now been removed from the camera body.

For those without Flash, here’s the direct link to the set on Flickr.

March Dawn – a set on Flickr

As ever, for those without the gift of Flash, please follow this link.

I got up early this morning to go out to Hoo St Werburgh again, this time with a friend keen to try out his new camera.

I made the conscious decision to shoot black and white. The hazy early morning landscape sort of lent itself to mono today, with very little colour visible even when the sun had risen quite high.

I am quite pleased with the results. Strange as it may sound, I think I am maturing as a landscape photographer. I feel able to pick my subjects, and capture them, without trying too hard. Most of the images I took today are acceptable, but I am getting much better at editing down to the very best, which is why those uploaded represent about ten per cent of the total frames I took.

Planning ahead

I’m getting to a certain age where I must begin to consider what I’m going to do with my time when I become “retired”. Leaving aside the rather worrying notion I may well never actually retire as the UK’s official retirement age creeps ever upwards as we all live longer, I still need to think about how I’m going to live out the autumn years of my life. There is an age disparity between myself and Best Beloved of some quarter century, and it’s pretty obvious to both of us I may well not have the pleasure of his company into my dotage. We don’t have dependants, so once he’s gone I will have to be self-sufficient for as long as I can manage it. 

Moving swiftly on from that rather depressing thought, I’m currently letting myself have a little daydream, which I amusingly call my Retirement Plan. There’ll be none of that checking into a retirement apartment, or sheltered accommodation, or even getting myself on Crusty Cruises around the Mediterranean. My plan is predicated on my inheriting Best Beloved’s estate. As we have no mortgage or major outstanding debt, I would hope to be able to liquidate the house and invest the proceeds. I would then purchase a mobile home (RV, self-propelled tin snail, whatever you fancy) and set off to explore the glories of the land of my birth.

The vehicle will need to be large enough for me to live in comfortably. It will need sufficient secure storage for my camera gear and a laptop, as well as clothes, food and the usual prerequisites of life. It will need to be self-sufficient for the times when I can’t plug into the grid. It will need internet access of some kind. To offset the size of the living van, I can hitch a small car to the back. Once I’m safely berthed in a campsite somewhere I can use the car to explore, reasoning a small car is easier to park than a bus, and drier than a moped or bicycle! 

The basic idea is now settled. I am assuming I really will be setting off on, and be able to fund in some way, a Grand Tour of the British Isles. What’s happening now is I am beginning to think about the places I want to visit, and the best way to cover the country to see the best bits. It’s not like I will have a time limit. My time will be my own, to spend as I please. If I land up somewhere, I might spend a week, a month or even longer. It would be really great to get to know an area on more intimate terms than the usual tourist traps. When I’m ready, weigh anchor and away I go.

It would be useful to have some kind of underlying tour plan, and I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to book berths in advance when I can. To avoid traffic I am considering overnight driving between stopping places, allowing myself a day or so once settled to prepare for my visit. Although I plan to be on the road permanently, I should also allow for times when I may be unwell, or the weather just too inclement, where I ought to heave to in a hotel for a time.

I’d love to be doing the Grand Tour until I am incapable of doing it any more. I certainly don’t want to spend my dotage in a “care” home, or dying in my favourite armchair in front of the goggle box, and there won’t be anyone in my immediate family who can “look after” me. I want to be out and being active for as long as I can manage it. I need to be independent and self-sufficient until I can’t manage any more.

What’s brought on this late-onset wanderlust? I think I can lay the blame on the BBC for giving us excellent documentary television programmes like Coast and Town. Both these shows have opened my eyes to the wonders that abound in my homeland. I have lived my entire life in the bottom right-hand corner of England, with all too rare and painfully short forays to other parts on holidays and odd trips. I simply have not experienced much of my own country, and I plan to see as much as I can before I shuffle off this mortal coil.

Book

As an added incentive, I’ve recently acquired a copy of The Lie of the Land by Ian Vince. Subtitled A spotter’s guide to the Britain beneath your feet, I thoroughly recommend it. Superbly written, easy to read, and sufficiently in-depth to seriously whet your appetite for more, it will act as my guide book on my journey. While considering the book, you might also take a look at the British Landscape Club web site, where you can currently buy signed paperback editions of the book, and become a member of the club. Membership is free, and you get a lovely badge you can wear with pride.

That’s enough for now. I shall go back to planning trips and day-dreaming about my retirement.

 

Dungeness, Kent – a set on Flickr

I spent an hour or two on an exploratory photographic visit to Dungeness on Friday evening. The location is not very far from where I’m currently working in Folkestone, but it’s a world away in many ways.

For those not blessed with a Flash-enabled browser or wish to visit with an i-device, you can visit the Flickr set on this link.

I do plan to visit Dungeness and surrounding areas again. Potentially, a full day there will bear all kinds of interesting images. Having made the exploratory trip, I have a better idea of what to expect.

Britain’s volcanic past | Ian Vince | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

Our glory days are in our past, but we have inherited a landscape shaped by every paroxysm, twitch and twist the Earth throw at us. On Mull and the Ardnamurchan peninsula lie the massive remains of volcanoes at least as awesome as anything Iceland can clog the skies with. On Skye, an entire range of mountains, the Cuillins, is formed from what was once a magma chamber – a vast underground reservoir of lava. On the Giant’s Causeway and the Hebridean island of Staffa, what’s left of 700,000 square miles of lava traps – where molten rock simply poured through fissures on the ground to create a flood of basalt – are such a striking sight that they are not so much a tourist attraction but a place of pilgrimage.

A nice little article over at the Guardian. This is one of the reasons my “retirement plan” is to travel around Blighty in a campervan, just taking photographs and enjoying the variety of my home country’s landscapes.

You may also be interested in the British Landscape Club. The club was founded by the Guardian article’s author, Ian Vince.

Margins – a set on Flickr

A short drive along the banks of the Medway Estuary to try out a new camera gave me an idea. I found the notion people threw their garbage into the estuary at high tide, considering it swept away only for it to reappear in the mire at low tide, somehow descriptive of our society. Everything can be discarded when broken, and once discarded the previous owner has no claim upon it. Meanwhile, the action of tides, mud and water slowly degrades the discarded item, but while it degrades it haunts the place where it was dumped.

This photo set needs curating, but the basic idea is my ongoing fascination with the way people interact with the edge of the land where it meets the water, and how the water usually wins eventually.

Abandoned Wrecks

Estuaries, marshlands, creeks and salt flats—the edge of the known world. These are the places that have fascinated me since childhood. The unseen and unvisited places between the water and the land. As a photographer I would explore these lonely, unloved places and photograph the emptiness. Names such as All-hallows, Dead Man’s Island, Whalebone Marshes and Egypt Bay appealed to my imagination. Occasionally I would stumble across a beached hull, stripped of its planks with only its oak ribs remaining. I had found my subject. They epitomized the wild, otherworldliness that attracted me to these areas. Object, sky and land had become one. I began to search them out.??I soon found that these abandoned wrecks littered our estuaries and mudflats. They were mostly wooden but a few were of iron and steel. They had been abandoned for many reasons. Some had been lived in and had deteriorated beyond repair, others were actual wrecks, beached in a storm, but most seemed to have just been parked and left.

There is some stunning photography to be seen on this site, but not enough. It’s a project-in-progress, rather like my own Margins series which was inspired by the idea people throw their rubbish into the river or sea expecting it to be swept away only for it to decay in the mire. I’ll find Margins on my Flickr and post it separately.

I am pleased to see John Whitfield has done the Hoo Peninsula. The marshy waterfront around Hoo St Werburgh is littered with hulks, and I paid it a visit a while ago. I ought to do it again. I keep saying that.

Tip o’the hat to Things Magazine.