Friday, December 22, 2006

A view of Mars

click photo to enlarge
Why isn't the whole world wearing all-in-one suits, driving flying cars, and eating gloop from a tube - the sort of liquidised mush that contains everything required to sustain a healthy person? I ask because that is the kind of future that, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, I thought we all faced! Admittedly this vision was gleaned from children's comics, but I'm sure it wasn't too far removed from the predictions of more academic seers and sages.

The accelerating pace of change that the western world experienced after the end of WW2 caused us all to look forwards, into the future, and outwards, into space. Children in the UK gobbled up the stories of Dan Dare, the "World's No. One Space Hero", in the "Eagle" comic. His flights through the solar system, encounters with aliens, and particularly his fantastic spaceships, illustrated by Frank Hampson and subsequent artists, created a future that the young mind could believe to be possible. Our picture of what other planets looked like was formed by what telescopes could see, what scientists could deduce, and what the imagination could invent. My childhood picture of Mars had the famous "canals" surrounded by the decaying buildings of a long-dead civilization, slowly rusting away into the russet dust of the red planet. Those imaginings have since been shattered by satellite images, and the film and stills sent back to earth by remotely controlled vehicles.

However, when I processed this photograph, taken below the Central Pier, Blackpool, I found that I had created an image from my childhood mind! There is the red, sandy surface of Mars, there too the water of a "canal", and the rusting skeleton of a strange building casts its shadows across the empty landscape. Well, perhaps only in my minds eye, and the gulls do slightly spoil the illusion (or is it delusion)! I took this shot for the red cast of the late afternoon colours, the reflections, the shadows and the interesting silhouettes of the pier's supports. I used a wide zoom lens at 24mm (35mm equivalent), the camera set to Aperture Priority (f6.3 at 1/400 sec), with the ISO at 100, and the EV at -1.7.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen