Friday, January 15, 2010

Picturesque pile or wretched wreck?

click photo to enlarge
What word would you use to describe this derelict Fenland cottage? Bucolic? Enchanting? Decrepit? Quaint? Crumbling? Is it a picturesque pile or a wretched wreck? Structures such as this usually provoke very polarised views. There are those who see them as a dangerous eye-sore that, at any moment, may fall on a passer-by, their appearance regarded as a blot on the local landscape, and an affront to surrounding buildings. Others find the dilapidation picturesque, a reminder of times past, a counterpoint to neat lawns, mathematically precise brickwork and gleaming plastic window frames. The fact is, such a building will usually be one or other of those things to most people. But, there are a few who will see it as both those things, getting enjoyment from it whilst regretting its demise, and also recognising the need for it tbe restored or replaced.

Those who see something to admire in decay and dereliction are often infected, to a greater or lesser extent, by Romanticism as that term came to be used in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Frequently they will have an artistic bent, liking poetry, literature, painting, photography, etc. And many will have an appreciation of history and place. Of course, the photographic or painted image often adds its own veneer to a depiction of a ruin, and the selective, edited image frequently betters the reality. My wife suggested today's photograph is an example of that phenomenon, when she remarked as she looked over my shoulder at the image on my computer screen - "That looks more picturesque than it does in real life."

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 7.4mm (35mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f3.5
Shutter Speed: 1/400
ISO: 80
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On