Photographing Northamptonshire : Rose of the Shires



Leica Picture A Week 2003   Digital Gallery
  An attempt to post a photograph taken during the current week, every week, for another year.     More shots with a Panasonic LC5 with a Leica lens
Olympus Picture A Week 2003   Olympus Gallery
  A further attempt to post a photograph taken during the current week, every week without the necessity of it being taken with a Leica     More shots with Olympus cameras
Leica Picture A Week 2002   UK Spring
  An attempt to post a photograph taken during the current week, every week, for a year.     My favourite season
Sywell Country Park   Rutland Water
  Edwardian Reservoir and Arboretum     Rutland Water and Normanton church just below it :-)
Gallery 1   Gallery 2
  Odds & Ends     Odds & Ends
Gallery 3   Gallery 4
  Odds & Ends     Odds & Ends
Boots   Hollowell Steam Rally
  My most important photographic accessory, walking boots.     Heavy horses, steam engines and more.
Horse Laugh   PhotoShopping
  I saw this, I photographed it and I still don’t believe it     OK, you’ve mastered the brightness and contrast controls. Ever wonder what all those other buttons and gizmos in Photoshop are for?
Northamptonshire Churches A-L   Northamptonshire Churches M-Z
  Village churches shot on my walks.      Village churches shot on my walks. 
36 Total Strangers    1 Total Stranger  
  Very few of my shots have people in them and this point was noted by Kyle Cassidy. I waffled some excuse about British reserve and Kyle’s solution was to set me a project where I had to get 36 shots (1 roll of film - remember film?) of total strangers. The theory being that it would cure me once and for all of my personal discomfort at the prospect of sticking a camera in a strangers face. He laid down some rules on equipment (no telephoto lenses) and location (no parades) and with these in mind I loaded a roll of film and set out on the project. One roll of film proved to be a little over optimistic and it took me eighteen months to get all thirty six :-)      Some background on a ‘Stranger’ shot.
Ancestry   Walks with a Panasonic LC5 
   I was asked by a Canadian on the Olympus mailing list , if I was ever in the area, to check out the last resting place of one of his relatives . In the event I was unable to find the grave in question but I burned some film in and around the old village church. In the churchyard I met an elderly couple and asked if they knew the whereabouts of the grave of the Reverend Rawson Briggs (1862-1939) and explained why I was looking for it. Neither of them knew the location but the woman remembered the Reverend as he used to teach her Sunday school class when she was a young girl. Furthermore, she had a photograph of him and agreed to send it to me so that I could scan a copy of it. These are the shots I took that day together with the old photograph c1920 that steals the show.      I do a lot of walking to fuel ‘Picture A Week’ and earlier this year I had access to this wonderful digital camera. I put it in my camera bag to document my walks in more detail. I posted the results on the same day as the walk and in some locations, America for instance, they often saw my walk before they themselves had reached the hour of the day that I took the shots. Ain’t technology wonderful? This gallery has the best of the shots.  

While chatting with Bill Clough on IRC #Leica channel, he mentioned that he had been looking at the photograph of a village taken for a picture essay on Literary England that appeared in LIFE Magazine in June, 1943.

Bill talked about how it seemed an unlikely time for such a project, how he liked the photograph and even emailed the text that accompanied the piece. It is taken from 'A Shropshire Lad' by A.E. Houseman:

Clunton and Clunbury
Clungerford and Clun
Are the quietest places
Under the sun

In valleys of springs and rivers
By Ony and Teme and Clun
The country for easy livers
The quietest under the sun
We still had sorrows to lighten
One could not always be glad....

Whether is was the photograph, the poem, the tranquillity of the scene when war was raging elsewhere, or maybe just Bill's mood at the time, for some reason--in that way that photographs can--it struck a chord with him.

Clunbury, the village in the photograph, is 120 miles from my home so I said if I got the chance I would make the trip and take some photographs to show him how it looked today.

One thing hadn't changed since 1896 when the poem was written. It is still the quietest place under the sun. I never saw a soul except an occasional car and a couple of bikers. I wandered through the village and around the churchyard in almost total isolation on a glorious sunny day. The cottage that was in the process of being thatched had a 'Marie Celeste' feel about it, almost as if the thatchers had been whisked away somehow in the middle of their work. The only sounds came from a nearby rookery and it added to the slightly eerie atmosphere.

David E. Scherman was the photographer in 1943 that so captured Bill Cloughs' imagination and triggered these shots. A fifty nine year self timer, followed by a remote release from Texas, the LUG is a truly wondrous place.