Monday, August 01, 2011

Castle Rising, time and photography

click photo to enlarge
There are those among my family, friends and acquaintances who think that I spend a lot of time on photography. Compared with a casual snapper I do. And, given that I'm retired, I suppose I spend more time taking pictures than the average enthusiast. But in some respects I still feel that the time I devote to photography is insufficient. Let me explain with respect to a recent example.

A couple of weeks ago I was travelling through Norfolk on my way to spend a few days near Wells next the Sea when I passed Castle Rising. This Norfolk village is a place I've visited once before to see its church. On this occasion, however, we'd decided to break our journey at that point to have a look at the Norman castle remains, some of the best of their kind in the country. The time of day (mid-morning) and the weather (sunny with areas of small clouds) was pretty good for photographing architecture - shadows help to delineate and describe the structure and sky interest is always welcome. I knew I'd take some details but I also decided to try and get a shot of the keep in its bailey. The first one I took is the main photograph at the top of the post. It's a shot showing the structure from the earth bank near the entrance gateway and has a few things to commend it - the asymmetry of the main subject, the path leading from the "empty" side of the shot, the angle of the building to the viewer with the side in shadow giving a strongly three-dimensional character, the balance of the main elements and the colours across the frame. But, the sun was slightly filtered by an area of cloud at the time, and the shot is consequently a bit "flat".

With an eye on that passing area of cloud we went to have a second look at Castle Rising church and a wander through a couple of village streets. The second and third shot were therefore taken a little later when the sun was stronger. I took one shot of the keep from ground level but the angle of the sun relative to my position wasn't the best so the areas of shadow are few. However, the simplicity of the shot - grass, building, sky - has a certain appeal. It was probably the absence of shadow in this photograph that caused me to take the next one from beyond the arch of the entrance gateway tower. Framing of this sort can be overworked, but here I'm fairly happy with it in terms of the dramatic strength of overall image. The downside of this position for photographing the keep is that you are face on to a single wall and consequently the image tells you less about its structure.

And that's where I come back to time and the amount I spend photographing. Most of my shots are taken on the hoof. By that I mean we are either walking, cycling or driving, and the purpose of our time when I grab my images is only partly photography. Were I to devote more time to photography I'd plan the best angles for a shot of this building, keep an eye on the weather, and return with a specific shot in mind, repeatedly if necessary until I secured it. If photography was my source of income that's what I'd have to do. I'm very glad it isn't.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Photo 1
Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 24mm
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/640
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On