Photography and Local History
I completed an MA Photography degree at University College Falmouth in Cornwall in 2009. After returning home to Pershore, I came across the community woodland at Stoulton which had been planted in 2001, and began the photographic project in December 2009, partly inspired by the words of William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-77), the pioneer of early photography.
Talbot in 1844 expressed the hope that the camera would be able to capture ‘a casual gleam of sunshine, or a shadow thrown across [the] path, a time-withered oak...’. Photographic images were, he wrote, as ‘a little bit of magic realised - of natural magic’.
All the photographs were taken in situ, without tripod or specialized equipment, in order to preserve spontaneity: taking the time to pause along the paths, to peer closely at nature with curiosity and a macro lens. A macro can distort, or focus on a detail, allowing a new way of seeing and, perhaps, imagining. Leaves and buds take on strange, feral qualities; colours and textures enchant and fascinate; backgrounds blur and blend.
The changing light, snow and hoar frost, rain, bright sun and dull days, cloud and wind, formed part of the experience of capturing the moods and atmosphere of a new woodland establishing its roots. All affect the image, particularly movement; no post-capture manipulation programs have been used. And after three years, I am still finding new subjects and learning how best to capture them.
Seasons are not easy to define: the first buds and catkins appear during the winter months; dead leaves still cling to trees in summer. No year has been the same month by month.
All the elements that feature in the woodland have their own fascination: trees and shrubs, grasses, lichen, bark, creatures, hedgerows and boundaries. In selecting images for this exhibition, the aim was not botanical realism, but to show forms, colours, textures, impressions. Finding the unusual, the ethereal, the unrepeatable: the ‘natural magic’. To use photography as a means of expression during months experimenting with nature.
A book containing these and other images from the project will be available through my website during December 2012: www.susatkin.com (or use Conact Form for further details).
© Susanne Atkin 2012
Taking time to pause:
the year in a young woodland
An exhibition of photographs
by Susanne Atkin MA, ARPS