Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Yellow-tinged January light

click photo to enlarge
The light from the low winter sun has to travel obliquely through more of the earth's atmosphere than does the light from the higher sun of spring, summer and autumn. Consequently it is tinged with colour for the same reason that light from the rising or setting sun is coloured. In the second half of December and the first half of January the light of the middle of the day in Britain has a decided yellow cast. This colouration slowly retreats towards the beginning and end of the day as spring approaches. So, even if the appearance of the landscape doesn't betray the month the quality of the light in a photograph often shows that it was taken during that time of year when the hours of daylight are at their shortest.

We had a walk by the River Slea near South Kyme a few days ago. Here the slow flowing river meanders through flat farmland and small woods, past villages and their churches, and offers the photographer the element of water to add to the ever-present earth and sky. We've done that walk in winter a few times in recent years and I've photographed the medieval tower and church in their riverside locations before. On our recent walk I took a shot from a position where I remembered taking one previously. This time it was not only the yellow-tinged light that attracted my eye but also the dark clouds behind the sunlit river, fields and church. For the same reason I took a photograph of the nearby manor house, a building that has been added to over the centuries and is built of both stone and brick. Surrounded by its trees it makes the third of three very English buildings - a fortified tower/house, a small church fabricated from the aisle of a larger priory demolished during the Dissolution, and the manor house of the local worthy, a land and property owner who wielded power and influence in the locality. Today all the buildings are less than they were in terms of their position in their communities. The church has been in decline for a couple of hundred years, Kyme Tower fell out of use centuries ago, and manor houses and manorial rights are often not in the hands of the original family, where they exist at all.

Many enthusiast photographers reduce their picture taking in winter. Partly it's the inclement, cold, wet and windy weather that keeps them indoors. Others seem to prefer the photographic feel and appearance of the other three seasons. Then there are those who don't like the reduced light. I'm not one of those people. I've said elsewhere in this blog that I can't envisage living anywhere that doesn't have clearly differentiated seasons. Perhaps it's simply what I'm used to and I would get used used to permanent summer. However, the differences that seasons offer me as a person and a photographer are something that I would surely miss and would, perhaps, pleasantly surprise those who use their camera where the sun always shines.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo 1
Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 17.4mm (47mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/640 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On