Monday, 28 November 2016

The blue hour

A lot of 'stunning' landscape photographs get taken shortly after sunset at what is often called 'the blue hour'. The sun has set but there's a glow on the horizon and if the sky is clear it's decidedly blue. Most photographers don't like seeing contrails in those clear blue skies. But I'm not most photographers. On clear, still, cold winter days I am often amazed by how many contrails there are. How busy the sky is. Where are all these planes going? Who is on them? Why are they travelling? I've often wondered if it would be possible to make pictures about this.

Making a late walk to catch the last post the contrails were more noticeable than ever. The darkened evening sky and the low, red, light from below the horizon made them stand out more than during the middle of the day. But on their own they would just be streaks on a blue ground. By focusing on natural forms in the foreground and letting them go to silhouette I got a nice contrast. Maybe something to work on a bit more to make some better images.
After a bit of a wait in the Post Office the street lights had come on. so I sought out some more village views. Being out earlier than last time businesses were still open, which altered how they looked. The slight hint of light in the sky also made for a different atmosphere to last time. Still just sketches really. A tripod would make the pictures sharper and less noisy, but some locations would see me getting run down to get the perspective I want!

On the last leg of the walk home I started to get snap-happy. For some reason these looser shots which I take without much thinking often seem more mysterious. And after dark the familiar does often become mysterious.

Once again I find myself wondering why other people can't come up with subjects to photograph when taking a walk and looking seems to work for me. maybe that's because my subjects aren't so much what's in the pictures but ideas. The contrail pictures aren't about contrails, they're about mass global transport and the environment. Maybe that sounds pretentious, but it's how I think about them. The random snaps are as much about what is hidden in the shadows as what is shown in the light, and also about the recurring theme of mine, seen also in my Englishman's Home pictures - privacy. Lights on, curtains drawn.

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