Friday, 29 March 2013

Spring is cancelled this year II

Here is a different take on the same subject matter as my last post.  Instead of using my digital SLR, I shot these using black and white film on the Hasselblad.  The square format gives a different, perhaps more formal feel, and the black and white lends a more sombre and melancholy note.

The snow has all but disappeared now, and much as I enjoy using the snow as a backdrop to my photographs, I sincerely hope we have seen the last of it for this year!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Spring is cancelled this year

In January I posted some similar images on this blog and my Hymn to the Hipstamatic blog. Who would have thought that two months later we would still be in the same situation? The snow continues to fall even as I write. Roll on summer.....

Monday, 18 March 2013

On Swanscombe Marsh II

Some more pictures from my recent Swanscombe Marsh trip...

I pretty much had the place to myself for three hours though did come across a couple of people - a solitary man striding along, a father with his young daughter on bikes and a man walking his dog. The latter stopped to talk to me and I was struck by his enthusiasm for the place. He told me that he had been coming here regularly for 6 or 7 years and appreciated the peace and quiet and the wide-open spaces. There were carp to be found in the pools and he had even seen a kingfisher on occasions. Sadly, he said that quite a lot of local people were in favour of the proposed development as they thought it might bring about an increase in the value of their homes, better road infrastructure and lots of jobs. The surrounding area is quite run down and who can blame people for wanting what many would see as improvements - peace and quiet and open space cannot compete with these sorts of benefits in most people's eyes.

I can imagine that many people looking at these photographs would wonder what was worth preserving - it is after all a rather desolate and scrappy looking landscape littered with pylons and bits of rusting metal. It is difficult to measure the importance of this kind of liminal space on the edge of the city but once built upon, it will be gone forever. And does the world really need another theme park? I know which I would prefer.....

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

On Swanscombe Marsh

Not much activity on the blogging front recently I'm afraid, but I've not been idle! I've just started work on a new project photographing the area known as Swanscombe Marsh, which is situated just east of Dartford in Kent on the banks of the River Thames. The project is being undertaken by a group of photographers from Crossing Lines - a collaboration between Goldsmiths University Centre for Urban and Community Research and London Independent Photography. The idea is that each photographer will approach the project in their own way and a more complete and varied picture of the place will eventually emerge. I will certainly be interested in seeing other interpretations - nobody's vision is exactly the same and there will obviously be a variety of approaches.

The area consists of low-lying marshland and old quarries on the margins of the city of London and is the site of a proposed redevelopment involving a huge Paramount Studios theme park. These photographs show it as it exists now - a windswept, rather desolate place with traces of past industrial activity and evidence of recent attempts to fence it off and discourage members of the public from access. However, it is traversed by public footpaths and is used by dog-walkers and other local people for recreation and exercise. It is not an area which could be considered traditionally beautiful, but its derelict wildness lends it a certain stark and shabby kind of beauty, and the combination of expanses of sky and water give it a wide-open feeling.

This is an area of the country which is not familiar to me and I have no emotional attachment to the landscape. However, I hope that the photographs will be more than purely documentary in nature. As ever, I will be attempting to evoke a sense of place, using the weather and light to convey the particular mood and atmosphere of the area. Depending on weather conditions I may experiment with black and white but for now I have chosen initially to photograph on medium format colour film with the Hasselblad - using this camera automatically slows you down and allows a more contemplative mood to permeate the images.