Photography and Art

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Joy of Being Green

St. Patrick's Day is coming up next week, so I thought I'd start early and celebrate the colour green. Yesterday, I talked about the difficulties that artists have when they paint or photograph scenery in the UK. The colour green is everywhere. It sometimes dominates to the detriment of the other image elements. You can get away from this by reducing your images to black and white or you can suck it up and strive for compositions and lighting that rises above all that green.

Last autumn, I had occasion to travel to England and Wales for the funeral of a favourite Uncle. He was nearly 90 when he died, but it was still a sad occasion. I decided to take the last day before flying back home to travel the back roads to London and visit a lovely aunt that lives in Gloucester. Fortunately, it turned out to be a lovely day and I was able to take a few nice photographs of the lush countryside. Here are four images that I quite liked. Note the presence of lots of that colour that starts with G.

My first stop on the journey was the Welsh town where I was born. It's called Ystalyfera and it's just to the north of Swansea on the Tawe River. This lovely misty shot was taken in a park that used to be a factory. I'm sure that when I was a toddler growing up in the town this factory was going full-tilt with smoke pouring out the stack. Now it looks very much like the ruin of some old monastery.

My father used to commute between Wales and England for a time, using an old motorbike. He suggested some lovely B roads that I could follow where I could see some lovely rolling countryside. Here's my favourite image from the roadside, with the sun low in the sky illuminating the sheep as the graze up on the hill. The trees are showing fall foliage and the sky has cleared. Here's a photo with more blue than green for a change!

At the end of the B roads, I turned onto a busy motorway and headed towards Gloucester. The sun was starting to set and as the road was going over a bridge, I noticed that some cars were parked on the verge beside the road just over the bridge. I parked at the end of the line and walked back over the bridge. This must be a prime fishing location because there were fishermen arranged along the river. I was struck with this beautiful view of Ross on Wye. The steeple reflected in the river and the puffy little clouds were just perfect. The scene looks very tranquil, but I was standing on a bridge with cars and trucks whizzing by me at high speed just a few feet away.

This is my favourite image from the day. The sun is setting to the right of the frame. These two fishermen are relaxing in the warmth of a fall day watching their lines. Ross on Wye is tucked into the top left of the image and all the lines are flowing from the fishermen at the bottom right diagonally towards the town. I don't think central casting could have found two more rustic looking fishermen than these.

When it came to printing these four images, I had an internal debate. With my new printer, I'm always thinking big, but somehow these little emerald jewels wanted to be printed as miniatures, so I ended up printing them as 4"x6" images and matting them in an 8"x10" frame. This way, they can be mounted as a collection of four smaller pieces. The colour green is actually an integrating element that makes them look like a matched set. The quality of the light is very similar for the four prints because the late autumn sun was low on the horizon all day. I printed them on Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl paper and they really pop quite nicely under light. They looked so nice that my wife surprised me by suggesting that we find a spot on the wall for them.

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