Saturday, October 19, 2013

Maud Foster, photographic filters and sails

click photo to enlarge
There was a time, from the late 1970s to some time in the 1990s when my Olympus OM1n's lens, usually a 50mm 1.8, but sometimes a 135mm 2.8, was rarely seen without a yellow, orange or red filter screwed on to it. For my personal (as opposed to family) photography, I did a lot of black and white work, and the boost in contrast that this gave to Ilford FP4 suited me fine. I occasionally fitted one to my little Ricoh 500RF but I more usually shot colour - Fujichrome and Ektachrome - with that camera, so a polarising filter suited it best. One of the pleasures of the change from film to digital is the ability to mimic the effect of a one of these filters after a colour shot has been converted to black and white. Today's main photograph shows just that. In this instance the digital equivalent of a yellow filter has been applied. This won't be to the liking of some purists, but I'm very happy with it.

I've photographed the Maud Foster windmill in Boston, Lincolnshire, several times and posted a few of my better shots on the blog. It's named after the big agricultural drain on whose bank it stands, and is one of the most attractive mills that I know - elegant, tall, with lovely brick and interesting ancillary buildings. On this occasion, however, it wasn't its overall appeal that I reflected on; I got to thinking about its sails. It is relatively unusual in having 5, an odd number. An even number of sails was more often favoured, usually 4, 6 or 8, because with this configuration, the argument goes, opposing sails can be removed for repair or maintenance and the windmill retains balance. Now, for reasons that I find hard to put into words I find 5 sails very visually satisfying. Better than the four that is most often seen, and better too than six - which I don't dislike. Definitely an improvement on eight, a number that makes a windmill look like a desk fan - yes Heckington windmill, I'm thinking of you. Perhaps its the anthropomorphic form of the 5-sailer that appeals - a reminder of Leonardo's Vitruvian man. As I say, I can't articulate these likes and dislikes particularly well, any more than I can account for my preferring a two button jacket over a three button version, but it's definitely how I see things.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo 1
Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 10.4mm (28mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/400
ISO: 125
Exposure Compensation:  -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On