I'm lucky enough to travel a lot but I also aim to understand a place in some depth. So I like to find out about the local history, sociology, wildlife and local arts. I prepare for a trip by looking up photos of the famous sights, they're usually a good guide both about the local visual interest and also a warning of what has already been done or over-done.
I try to use the tools of modern photojournalism and photography to communicate how I feel about a place. You’ll see that I have used Portrait, Street, Interior, Historical, Abstract, Landscape, Historical, Wildlife, Phone-camera and Selfie genres at different times for specific effects.
Late Spring Bank Holiday Week in the Lake District, England’s first holiday weekend since the third lockdown. Traditional landscape photography avoids people but I’ve deliberately featured holidaymakers in this set. After many long weeks of lockdown and deserted streets: it’s been heartening to see people enjoying themselves with a responsible degree of bustle and busyness. And there are precedents on including people in “landscapes”: you need look no further than John Constable’s “The Hay Wain” (1821), one of the most popular paintings in London’s National Gallery.
Day out in the hired car to enjoy Fish and Chips at the port of Girvan on the Firth of Clyde. My route took me through Dumfries and then Galloway Forest Park.
Girvan and the Ayrshire coast benefit from warmth from the Gulf Stream, which was particularly apparent coming down from Glentool Forest in the Galloway Forest Park. After miles of winter landscape, suddenly I noticed the lush green growth of spring, promoted by the warming effects of the Gulf Stream.
Geologists know Girvan as pretty much the southwestern end of the Southern Uplands Boundary fault, which is noted for many geological anomalies as it runs through Scotland.
The people I met in Girvan had all come “down” from Glasgow, enjoying their first trips out since the lockdowns and staying for a week. I needed to return, but I rued choosing the coastal route which leads to Stranraer as it was chokka with lorries and trucks.
Big countryside this, long valleys and high rounded hills with an emptiness that I don’t usually associate with the UK. Some sheep farming and the rest forestry, which looks pretty unattractive when half the valley has been stripped. Straight roads and some impressive corkscrews, for the delight of motorbikers. Note the bikers shivering in Hawick though, they unlike me in a hired Corsa, were getting everything from the weather: sunshine, hail, sleet and just grey.
Hermitage Castle - “Guardhouse of the bloodiest valley in Britain” - was a particular interest to see as it was the northern stronghold of the Dacre family of Cumberland in the fourteenth century. This was the time of the Reivers: robbers and bandits preying in “The Debatable Lands” north of Carlisle. So Hermitage Castle - and its bloody battles - are the part of the medieval history of Cumberland and so, Cumbria. Hermitage Castle keep is an impressive building and a novel design with two large arches. The shell of the building survives, meaning although it changed hands many times, it was never sacked. The location is tactical too, it commands a bend of the river named Hermitage Water, just above the small town of Newcastleton. Maybe it’s a bit fanciful as there’s not a direct metaphor but the fells stripped of trees is reminiscent of the bloody battles of this area of the past.
Precious glimpses from my rail journey in the lockdown to meet with my support bubble mate in Brighton. Familiar to many commuters, these snatched views have a special poignancy at this time when our freedom to roam is suspended and so many are working from home.
Crossing the River Thames at Battersea. Snow and frost on the North Downs, crops germinating under the Balcombe viaduct and the South Downs looming over Hassocks.
Photography note: optical filter used for these photos, Wratten Number unknown but usually referred to as “Southern Railway dirty window”; this gives a pleasing diffusion effect.
Winter scenes in Cumbria seen from the roadsides on a journey essential for my business. The photos are from halts on the A66 towards Keswick.