June 30, 2010

South West England XVI - Chepstow Castle and Tintern Abbey

Digital infrared original, 2 frame stitch
Chepstow Castle (Welsh: Castell Cas-gwent) is the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain. Located above cliffs on the River Wye, construction began in 1067 under the instruction of the Norman Lord William FitzOsbern. Originally known as Striguil, it was the southernmost of a chain of castles built in the Welsh Marches, and with its attached lordship took the name of the adjoining market town in about the 14th century.
Digital infrared original
Tintern Abbey was founded on 9 May 1131 by Walter de Clare, Lord of Chepstow. It is situated adjacent to the village of Tintern in Monmouthshire, on the Welsh bank of the River Wye, which at this location forms the border between Monmouthshire in Wales and Gloucestershire in England. It was the first Cistercian foundation in Wales, and only the second in Britain (after Waverley Abbey).

The abbey fell into ruin after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century. Its remains have been celebrated in poetry and painting from the 18th century onwards.

South West England XV - Bristol Cathedral

Digital original, 8 image exposure blend

Digital original, 5 image exposure blend
Bristol Cathedral was conceived as a “hall church” with the aisles the same height as the choir and nave. As a result the vaulting is very unique, designed to let as much light into the church as possible. This German Gothic style is rare in Britain, but was maintained and honoured in all the subsequent renovations of the building.
Digital original

Digital original

South West England XIV - Bath Abbey

Digital original, 4 image exposure blend
I will forever be grateful to the kindness of Bath Abbey; during the arrangements around my visit, they suggested I arrive an hour before their regular opening time, so I'd have time in the building undisturbed, before a gaggle of school children arrived mind-morning. That was such a precious gift, and set the tone for the whole day!
Digital infrared, 7 image exposure blend
At the heart of the beauty of Bath Abbey is the stone it is built from - an oolitic limestone which is light in colour, and carves beautifully. Combined with the large perpendicular windows above the lower level, the building is bright light in feeling, for all that is build of blocks of stone.
Digital original, 6 image exposure blend
The most beautiful feature of the abbey is the fav vaulting, installed in the 1860's by Sir George Gilbert Scott. The work was not merely a fanciful aesthetic addition but a completion of the original design, and compliments the rest of the building beautifully.
Digital original
After a full morning of photography, I spent a final half-hour exploring the outside with my camera, and caught this nice moment of a pigeon taking a bath...in Bath!
Digital original
After spending the morning working in the Abbey, I had little time to photograph Bath itself (and never even attempted to visit the Roman Baths)...but I did take a little time to photograph the river behind the Abbey.

June 29, 2010

South West England XIII - Sherborne Abbey

Digital original, 14 image exposure blend, 2 frame stitch
The Abbey Church of St Mary the Virgin at Sherborne in the English county of Dorset, is usually called Sherborne Abbey. It has been a Saxon cathedral (705–1075), a Benedictine abbey (998–1539), and since 1539, a parish church of the Church of England.
Digital original, 3 image exposure blend
I really loved this wooden staircase, both for the serpentine shape, and the final tracery of metal used to enclose it...
Digital original, 9 image exposure blend
The vaulting at Sherborne (finished in 1490) is one of the most famous examples of William Smyth’s designs (who also designed ceilings at Wells and Milton Abbey). During this renovation, a town riot caused extensive damage, including the reddening of some of the walls around the tower. Much of redesign actually consisted of encasing earlier Norman pillars and walls in perpendicular stone paneling.
Digital original

South West England XIII - St Mary Redcliffe Church

Digital original, 8 frame exposure blend

St. Mary Redcliffe is an Anglican parish church, constructed from the 12th to the 15th centuries, and it has been a place of Christian worship for over 900 years. The church is renowned for the beauty of its Gothic architecture, and was described by Queen Elizabeth I as "the fairest, goodliest, and most famous parish church in England."
Digital original, 18 frame exposure blend, 2 frame stitch
I will be forever in the debt of the church staff, as when planning my visit, they suggested I come an hour earlier (before official opening time) so I would be able to work with the church before a gaggle of school children arrived mid-morning. This permitted me the freedom to work with almost no-one in the building for over 90 minutes, making many images easier to create than anywhere else in the project.
Digital original, 21 image exposure blend, 7 frame stitch
One of the most impressive spaces at Redcliffe was the entryway - the ceiling above stretches up and up, to a beautiful stone vault...challenging to photograph, I ended up using my widest lens (the 17mm TS-E) and second different frames in order to record the full drama of the location.
Digital original
Even after I was done working with the interior, I found it hard to leave - the exterior of the church was decorated with the most lovely gargoyles - many of them in fabulous combination of the mundane and the fanciful, like this winged beast!

June 28, 2010

South West England XII - Salisbury Cathedral

Digital original, 10 image exposure blend, 2 frame stitch
There was little I saw in South-West England that was as engaging as this font, designed by William Pye in 2008 to celebrate 750 years of architecture. Combining a still surface and running water, the font fills the cathedral with the sound of living water, and served as a perfect reflecting pool to work with photographically. I had to wait for fifteen minutes or more until I could make a composition had no people in it, but the investment was more than worth it.
Digital original
The woodwork in Salisbury was a real pleasure to behold, and really enjoyable to photograph. Though the window light was mixed with man-made illumination, it was surprisingly easy to make good photographs of the carvings.
Digital original, 6 image exposure blend
The last set of images I made inside the cathedral were of the cloister; like many, it has yew trees planed in the centre, but there was no way to feature those in balance with the beautiful architecture, so I opted to focus on the building, though the trees are visible on the left side of the image.
Digital original
After a full day of photography, I took a break for dinner, but couldn't resit returning to the cathedral at sunset. In stark contrast to the daytime crowds, the church yard was empty of people, and the evening light, mixing with the artificial illumination, provided a lovely counterpoint to the cool blue of the sky above.

South West England XI - Winchester Cathedral

Digital infrared original, 2 image stitch
Winchester Cathedral is a Church of England cathedral in Winchester, Hampshire, England. It is one of the largest cathedrals in England, with the longest nave and greatest overall length of any Gothic cathedral in Europe.
Digital original, 2 image stitch
Before entering the cathedral, I made a number of image of the exterior, including the above photograph of a couple of stunning red doors.
Digital original, 5 image exposure blend
The view down the nave towards the east window gives some impression of how high and open the name is.
Digital original, 5 image exposure blend
Within the choir the ceiling is even more majestic, though the space itself is smaller and less grand.
Digital original, 3 image exposure blend
After finishing photographing in the nave and choir, I spend some time exploring the aisles and the wings of the cathedral, before packing up and heading out for the rest of the day.

June 27, 2010

South West England X - a Church, a Castle, a Cathedral (Burwash, Bodiam & Chichester)

On my drive to the south-east of London, I caught sight of this lovely church from my car, and just had to stop and photograph it. St Mary the Virgin church, Upwaltham, West Sussex
Digital infrared original, 2 frame stitch
I just happened upon St Bartholomew's Church in Burwash, East Sussex, on my drive to see Bodiam Castle. A glimpse of the spire from the road was enough for me to decide to pull over, and spend half-an-hour photographing it. A lot of the strength of this image comes from the beautiful sky above - yay infrared!
Digital infrared original, 3 frame stitch
One of the greatest debates during this trip to southern England was if I should go six hours out of my way just to see Bodiam castle. In the end, the irony of the debate was that the time it took to drive to the castle was exactly what made the photographs so perfect; if I’d arrived earlier, the light angle would have been different, and while I am sure I would have made some successful images, much that makes this photograph strong comes from the late afternoon light.
Digital original
The end of the day (after a lovely dinner of fish and chips as the World Cup was on in the background of the pub) was spent photographing the exterior of Chichester Cathedral. of all the buildings I wished to visit on this trip, Chichester was the only one to restrict photography, so while I was unable to secure permission to photograph its interior, I did spend 45 minutes creating images at twilight, which lead to a number of really nice results.

June 26, 2010

South West England IX - South to London

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This day was a transition period; the week-long photo tour I had lead in Cornwall was now over, and I was driving one of the students back to just south of London. This was the least photographed day of the trip.
Digital original
In exchange for the drive, I'd been offered the night's accommodation, so after a long and tiring drive, I spent a lovely English evening sitting outside and enjoying the light. The family dog was also outside...enjoying watching the local rabbits...and the occasional deer.
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Just below the modern deck I was on was an original garden feature, with called out for a composition.

June 25, 2010

South West England VIII (Lansallos & Fowey, Southern Cornwall

Digital original
One of the best parts of traveling in the UK (or much of Europe, for that mater) is the open door policy in churches - see an interesting church, and the chances are, the door is open, and on can wander around, photographing, without an hassle or issue. St Ildierna Church in Lansallos, Cornwall was no exception to this, and provided a great opportunity to work with some architecture, both exterior and interior.
Digital original, 6 frame exposure blend
The interior of the church was unexpectedly beautiful; large slates formed the floor, and the carved pews and ceiling were lovely. I used my tilt-shift lens for the above image, looking down the church but shifting the lens to the right to include more of the pews.
Digital original
The final set of images were made back outside of St Ildierna's, using infrared's rendition of the trees, grass and hedge to create a dramatic view from the road towards the church.
Digital original
We finished the day's photography in the coastal town of Fowey, where we ate dinner, and then roamed around town for half-an-hour photographing, before heading back to the car, and our accomidations.

June 24, 2010

South West England VII - Travelling to Port Isaac

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On the start of our woodland walk, just past a Roman Mile-maker(!), I came across a little patch of flowers - I used the widest setting on my compact camera and got as close as I could to one flower, to create the above image.
Digital original
St Nectans Glen was one of the most eerie spaces I have every visited - more like a mausoleum or sanctuary than any graveyard  or church  have ever visited. The rocks were covered with small offerings, notes and even photographs...it felt incredibly private and personal.
Digital infrared original, 4 image stitch
After close to an hour walking through lovely woodland, we arrived at St Nectans Glen; a haunting location with a stunning waterfall. I would have been awesome to work with a model in the space, but it was WAY to public to ever be an option (in fact a search of the internet would indicate no-one has EVERY worked with a figure model in the space).
Digital original
As we walked back from the waterfall, I made this image of a wild flower. The advantage of having a compact camera is obvious in cases like this - great depth of field in relatively low light, without having to fight with a tripod!
Digital Original
We arrived at Port Isaac at low tide, but decided NOT to park on the shore, like others were. The little town was lovely, but at the time I was oblivious to its claim to fame - the setting for the TV drama Doc Martin. Having watched the series now, I can see why those who knew the show wished to visit the town!

June 23, 2010

South West England VI - Wells Cathedral

Digital original
On the drive into Wells, I paused to fill the car with petrol, and saw this lovely scene, with the two lines of chimneys and a church tower. Fortunately, as always, a camera was at hand, and without much delay, I was able to make the above composition.
Digital original, 13 image exposure blend, 3 frame stitch
Wells Cathedral was the first of the dozen or so Cathedrals and Abbeys I planned to photograph during this trip. Making images of the ceiling of the chapter house felt like a dream - and this was only the first of many in the coming week and a half!

Completed by 1306, the Chapter Hpise is where the church canons met daily to discuss business. The original stained glass windows were smashed by Cromwell’s soldiers during the English Civil War (1642-61). The roof, known as a tierceron vault, has 32 ribs (called tiercerons) springing from the central shaft. While not quite a fan vault, it was one of the important architectural steps towards developing the fan vault.
Digital original, 2 image stitch
The cloister at Well was quite restrained, compared to the ornate ceilings in later constructions; I actually find the stark lines of the ceiling vaulting quite delicate, giving a feeling of a spiderweb, as much as a hall of stone and glass.
Digital original, 3 image exposure blend
My visual expectations of Wells Cathedral were mostly based upon the work of Frederick Evans, who's work I have loved for more than two decades. The scissor arches under the tower are so iconic that rather than focus on them (as most photographers seem to do), I decided to show them in the context of the nave.
Digital infrared original, 6 image stitch
On the drive back to our accommodation, we passed through some lovely rolling countryside, and with the early evening sun casting long shadows, it was a perfect subject for infrared!

June 22, 2010

South West England V - Cornwall

This day was spent exploring Cornwall, starting with a photo walk with students through Launceston, Cornwall. The first pause was at St Mary Magdalene's Church, which was a nice little building, built between 1511 and 1524. While it lacked the drama of a majestic Gothic cathedral, it was a nice pause in a day otherwise spent photographing outdoors.
The other major structure in Launceston is the ruins of the castle, built 2-4 years after the 1066 Norman invasion. I defaulted to my infrared camera when photographing the castle, as it pulled the stout stone walls out from the surrounding foliage, and shifted the focus of the image from the beautiful blue sky and green trees to the structure itself.
Digital infrared original, 4 image exposure blend, 3 frame stitch
After we left Launcesto, we drove onto Bodmin moor, eventually seeking out a roadhouse for lunch and a short break. While the students relaxed, I ventured out to the nearby river, and made an image looking under the bridge. 
The most notable feature of Bodmin moor (beside the landscape itself), are the ponies - fuzzy little horses that have little fear of car or people, and permit photographers to approach to a surprisingly close camera position. A great place for long lenses with large apertures.
It is hard to roam the Cornwall landscape and not make image of hedge rows; in this case, I put one directly in the foreground, as a frame for the landscape behind. The decision to keep the depth of field shallow, which I was hesitant about at the time, turned out to be a good decision, as it helps keep the background and the foreground from getting too confused.
On our drive homewards at the end of the day, we stopped in several small villages, seeking a place for dinner. We finally found it in a small river-crossing town, where we are a fabulous dinner (double servings of the mushroom soup!). After dinner, we walked around town before the last long stretch of driving, and I came across this beautiful fence - complete with mixed lighting from the early evening.