Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fen not steppe

click photo to enlarge
A casual viewer of today's photograph could be forgiven for thinking that they were viewing a shot of the Russian steppe, that vast, flat, treeless plain of south-eastern Europe and Siberia. The featureless sky, the level, equally featureless white foreground and the snow-blasted houses, trunks and branches of the tree-shrouded village all point in that direction. But appearances can be deceptive and the camera doesn't always tell the truth. In fact, the photograph is a winter shot of the village of Bicker in the Fens of Lincolnshire.

This ancient settlement - the Norman church's embattled top can be seen just right of centre - had just experienced a heavy fall of snow and low temperatures, something that happens often January or February, though with nothing of the frequency and ferocity of the snowfalls and temperatures of the  Russian plains. And, though the village looks isolated and in winter's grip, a main arterial road, gritted and clear runs not too far away, linking it with larger villages and towns. Moreover, though snow and low temperatures of this sort can present immediate difficulties, in Britain they tend to be transient and a thaw is often not too far away.

Consequently, the photographer who wants to record the landscape and buildings held in this kind of icy grip has to move quickly because in a few hours, or at most a couple of days, the covering will be gone or slowly retreating, leaving branches black, not white, fields black and green and roads wet and muddy. I came upon this view of the village as we negotiated a small lane on a walk through the snow. The strip of detail, distinct and indistinct, spread across the blankness of land and sky appealed to me and so I framed my shot and pressed the shutter.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 105mm
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/320
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  +0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On