Wednesday, August 26, 2009

River Welland landscape

click photo to enlarge
On a recent walk at Deeping St James I passed the point on the bank of the River Welland where I'd taken a photograph on the last day of February. So, in the interests of comparison I took another shot, though this time in portrait format, from what I thought was the same point. When I came to compare the images it proved to be near the place where I'd stood before, but not precisely the same spot.

Anyone with an interest in English landscape painting will understand the appeal of a composition such as this and the earlier one. It has most of the component parts that Constable, Girtin, Cotman, Turner, Cozens and the rest arranged in countless drawings, sketches and finished works. There is the nominal subject of an old church, its spire piercing the sky. Then there is the river wending its way towards it, offering a line to take our eye through the composition. This line is echoed by the river banks, one side light, the other darker, depending on how the sun falls. A reflection of the church in the river is not something that always appears in such paintings, but here it adds to the mid-ground interest. And finally there is the trees - clumps of leaves and arching branches, their softness contrasting with the sharpness of the stone building.

There are, however, two things my image doesn't have in order to properly conform to this artistic genre. The first is a dramatic sky laden with billowing clouds of the kind so beloved by this group of painters. But, as I'm not one for pasting in skies from other photographs, here I've happily taken what nature offered, knowing that my photograph can be seen as both a record and a picture. The second thing that's missing is the animals or people that give scale and another area of focus to so many of these paintings. Often a few cows at the water's edge provide this, though sometimes it's a peasant leaning on a gate, or perhaps accompanying a horse and cart. Unfortunately, in Lincolnshire in 2009, cows have given way to cabbages, and bucolic peasants are difficult to find, so for my next photograph at this location I'll have to see about persuading my wife to fulfill this role. If I take along a few suitably rustic props, say a pitchfork, a smock, and a straw hat, who knows what could be achieved...

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 64mm (128mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f10
Shutter Speed: 1/200
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On