Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Secrets, lies and Lancasters

click photo to enlarge
Scanning the very truncated TV listing for today in my newspaper, more in hope than expectation I have to say, I was struck by the titles of three documentary programmes. The first was called "The Secret History Of Our Streets" (about things on, above and below streets), the second, "The Secret Life Of Ice" (about glaciation), and the third, "The Secrets of Scott's Hut" (about the explorer's wooden hut in Antarctica). All of them purport to be "revealing" secrets to the viewer. Except of course they're not, and they know it. The word "secret" in the context of TV and book titles has been flogged to death in recent years. It is used as bait to subliminally suggest that the offering is in some way divulging that which has been hidden, or is new, or to imply that this is not yet another re-hash of a familiar subject. Except of course it invariably is. I think I'll be reading my book again tonight.

A UK TV channel called Yesterday is the biggest culprit as far as overworking the tired concept of TV programmes that reveal secrets. It manages to broadcast multiple series about the Second World War that show the same film footage, the same narratives, the same topics, all re-worked from an angle, the most common of which is the revelation of that which has hitherto been "secret". What it hasn't yet come up with, as far as I know, is "The Secret of the Avro Lancaster" or The Secret of the Supermarine Spitfire". It can only be a matter of time.

I recently visited the aircraft collection of the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, Cambridgeshire. I've photographed there before and never found it especially easy to come away with a shot that I liked. This time, however, despite the fact that I was with several members of my family, I got a few. Today's shows Britain's main heavy bomber of the Second World War, the Avro Lancaster, revealed for all to see - no secrets whatsoever. It took quite a bit of post processing to tease this shot out of a fairly contrasty original, and it's probably technically my best effort at this venue. Incidentally, as a contrast with my complaint above, I quite like the way that this museum has retained the original name of the founding Imperial War Museum in London. When it was founded there was no disingenuous attempt to call it an Air Museum, a Defence Museum, or to toy with any other verbal equivocation. It contains mainly military aircraft and their weapons and the name recognises these have been and are weapons of war.

photograph and text © T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length:17mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/15
ISO: 1000
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On