Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Fens

click photo to enlarge
The Fenlands of Eastern England is a flat, low-lying region of about 1500 square miles in the counties of Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and a small area of Suffolk. It includes a large amount of land that has been reclaimed from marshes and the coast. The Fens contain half of the Grade 1 farmland of England - the most productive of our agricultural land. More than a third of vegetables grown in the open are cultivated in this area. It also produces a large cereal crop, and retains small herds of sheep and cattle, animals that were formerly much more numerous in this part of the country, and which, in the case of sheep, accounted for its prosperity during the medieval period.

It is said that in the Fens three-quarters of the the landscape is sky. It is certainly true that big skies are a feature of the area, and photographers who take pictures in this region soon learn to use them to their advantage. In a talk about photography that I gave recently I said that Fenland photographers usually tilt their cameras down or up, and rarely have them level. A level camera tends to produce a shot that splits the composition roughly equally between earth and sky, a distribution that is, I think, the least visually satisfying of the possibilities. When photographing in the Fens I often consciously choose either two-thirds sky or two-thirds land, deliberately giving emphasis to one or the other. Sometimes I give an even greater fraction to the sky.

Today's photograph does the latter. On the January day that I took this shot the sky was largely overcast but with subtle hues and shading. A low, late afternoon sun was illuminating the fields and the distant wind farm, making the white turbines stand out against the dark sky. They provided the main subject that I needed to compose an image that included the lone tree, distant farms, frost-hammered vegetables and that big sky.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 70mm
F No: 7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/100
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.67 EV
Image Stabilisation: On