Monday, 15 February 2021

Frozen out

No snow here, but it's been cold enough to freeze the ground solid which has given the farmers a chance to get machinery on the land and work under way. However a strong wind or really dull light has kept me indoors most of the time, with just a few late afternoon forays with a camera.

Even so new sights continue to appear when trudging the usual routes. They just get further apart than they used to.

When I did happen upon some activity I was a bit late on the scene and couldn't quite get the angles I wanted. The idea below was to have backlit gulls against dark fields. In addition to poor angles when the tractor got in range for a well framed shot it was too close to me for the gulls' comfort and they wheeled of and upwards.

That evening I did manage to get the setting sunlight reflecting off one of the road signs, which is a picture I've seen but never managed to take before. Usually when the sun is at the right angle to reflect it also casts my shadow into the frame. This time for some reason only the sign was lit.

Next time out I was later still and only managed a couple of pictures. One showing recent cultivation with still frozen surface water, the other what looks like hail stones but which are actually fertiliser pellets. Not important pictures on their own, but potentially useful in a series.

being stuck indoors induces boredom. Boredom induces web browsing. Web browsing induces impulse purchases. I'd forgotten I'd ordered Joanne Coates's zine from ADM so it was a pleasant surprise to get an email notification that it was on its way. I'd seen the work on a number of websites over the last few years and was glad to have a hard copy of some pictures from it. It really needs a bigger publication with text to do it justice though.

When Camerasnaps tweeted a video of them going through Blood Sweat and Tears I immediately searched out a copy. Great documentary photography of the miners strike of 1984 published straight after the fact. If it had been a new publication I'd have given it a miss in keeping with my attempt to restrict my photobook buying to contemporary work, 'vintage' editions and the very occasional reprint at a more affordable price than the original of the same book on the collectors' market.

Also via Twitter I discovered The Dartmoor Collective and ordered a copy of their nice little collaborative zine, A Worked Landscape. A subject right up my street. Zines for a fiver are a great idea and should be encouraged.

The freeze finally came to an end today but it took a while for me to get work out of the way and make the most of the last hour of sunlight. I timed it just a bit late to catch some field and ditch work going on, and had to console myself with some static subject matter. An advantage of a flat landscape is teh ability to spot things which have appeared since a previous visit from afar. A big yellow digger by one of the pumps I have photographed numerous times had to be investigated.

I tried, and failed, to make a picture including one of the irrigation outlets but framing using the flip down screen was more trouble than I could be bothered with as time was short.

Even getting a shot of the digger on its own was tricky to frame without having something cutting into the left edge.

The greenhouses I sometimes walk by usually throw up some chance of a picture. If not of or through the glass then something reflected in it. Today was no exception. The greenhouses are used for bringing on houseplants and they are now being stocked up ready for the spring season. The trays of seedlings making for a nicely repetitive pattern.

The lack of contrast in the above picture being due to the dirty glass. The same applies to the picture below, with the addition of out of focus whitewash on the inside of the glass which I deliberately used as a device to provide a visual unifier to the picture's structure.

A reflected sunset is irresistible. So I didn't resist. Quite a few frames were exposed and only two or three worked. I tried focusing on the reflection and on the glass. The pictures with the sharp reflections were the most immediately satisfying. I've kept both versions though as I might change my mind with time. That's something I often do, keep two versions in case what initially appeals about a picture loses it's attraction as time passes.

With the warmer conditions set to stay for a while I'll be trying to get out and about more often, at more productive times. That's if work allows me to.

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