Monday, January 15, 2007

The answer is walking!

click photo to enlarge
"All travelling becomes dull in exact proportion to its rapidity", John Ruskin (1819-1900), English art critic and author

Awareness of John Ruskin's hostility to motorised transport, particularly the spread of the railways, and the daily passage of the steam-powered gondola past his house on the edge of Coniston Water in England's Lake District, might prompt the remark, "well, he would say that wouldn't he!" But his particular problem with technology shouldn't blind us to the deeper truth of his words.

Many people would say, and I am one of them, that providing you have the time, the best way to get from one place to another is to walk. You see and learn more, you have time to reflect, and your health benefits from the exercise. And if you're a photographer walking is incontrovertibly the best way to secure the best images! But, distance and time constraints can make walking impractical, and that's why the bicycle was invented! Cycling provides many of the benefits of walking, but enables greater distances to be covered in a shorter time. The downside is that you see the world less well, even though you might see more of it, and you come into too close contact with cars! Had Ruskin lived to see air travel he would have known the full truth of his words quoted above. Flying is the most uncivilised method of transport. Passengers are treated like cattle, and the experience involves boredom that is hard to equal. Moreover it involves an environmental price that is surely unsustainable. The more you think about it, the more walking is the answer to many of today's problems. Fuel prices rising? Walk more. Job-related stress a problem? Walk it off. Putting on too many pounds? A daily walk will reverse the process!

I do a lot of walking, for my health, in pursuit of my interests, to find subjects to photograph, and to find time to think. I walk on mountains, hills, plains, valleys, by the sea, in towns and cities. It's quite the best way to experience the world. This photograph was taken whilst walking with my wife along the promenade at Blackpool, Lancashire. I have photographed at this spot once before, and thought I'd try again. The cobbled slope, the steps and railings always, it seems to me, need a figure. I composed my shot with the person going into the frame, and used the line of the railings to lead the eye through the image. I used a zoom lens at 86mm (35mm equivalent), with the camera at Aperture Priority (f7.1 at 1/200 sec), and the ISO at 100, with -0.3EV.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen