Friday, March 20, 2009

Not so typical after all

click photo to enlarge
A typical English rural scene on an overcast March day in Leicestershire - in the foreground sheep and lambs feed on lush, green grass; in the background, a small village (King's Norton) with a huddle of Georgian and later brick houses, in the centre of which stands a Gothic church; whilst in the middleground, on the hillside pasture surrounded by trees and hedges is a herd of alpacas. Alpacas? In England? Well, yes, an increasingly common sight. Not usually this many: more often it's two or three. But gone are days when I was surprised to round a bend and be confronted by these Andean camelids - they are taking up residence in many corners of our fair land.

Seeing a herd of this size prompted me to find out just why the numbers are increasing in England. It seems that many are "hobby" animals in much the same way that horses, goats and exotic pigs are: that is to say, they are kept for their "cute" appeal. Larger herds - perhaps this one - are kept for the wool that they produce which is sought after as a clothing material. Ah well, each to their own I suppose!

But, the alpacas aren't the only un-English feature of this photograph. The church, which looks like a medieval or Victorian Gothic building was actually completed in 1761, an astonishingly early date for an example of Gothic Revival: most churches of that period had classical forms and details. It was designed by the younger John Wing with an eye for historical accuracy that is almost unprecedented at that time. If anything gives away the fact that it's not medieval Gothic, in this view, it is the relatively tall nave, the absence of a break to signify the chancel, and the outline of the tower.

So, not typical at all. In fact a rather unusual rural scene to encounter on a dull March day, but an interesting one I think.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 102mm (204mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/320 seconds
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On