My rocks pictures from the weekend reminded me of how beautiful the rest of the common is as well. Strangely, whenever we think of going for a weekend walk, we seem to find ourselves getting into a car and driving out of town, when we have such wonderful scenes as this on our doorstep:
Looking through my old pictures, which are as good a record as any of my ramblings, I haven’t been walking on the common since I took these infrared pictures two years ago:
I clearly need to go back:
The Rocks are one of my favourite features of this town- when I was growing up, I assumed that in the same way that every town has a park and a shopping centre, I could expect to find a set of rocks in any town I visited.
Now I am older and know how unlikely they are- I love these alien incursions into our town all the more, particularly in the way they contrast with the gentility of the rest of the town.
At the same time, I struggle to photograph them to my satisfaction. Infrared seems best to bring out their strangeness…
But in colour…
Or black and white…
Hardest of all is to create a composition that stops them from overpowering everything around them and gives enough of a sense of their context:
Those of you have been reading for a bit will know that I love fog. If taking pictures is often more about what you leave out than what you choose to include, this particular weather allows you to isolate within your composition and stir up some real mystery.
Indeed I posted just a few days ago from a foggy Tonbridge morning.
That weather stayed all day, allowing me to visit a couple of favourite locations.
My beloved rock house above:
And the tree in Nevill Park:
A bit of a change of view, slightly out of town in Haysden Park in Tonbridge this morning:
For those few of you who might be interested in the processing I do with these- I converted the original images into black and white twice- once normally and once overexposed. I then combined the two pictures together in various ways to create the sorts of blended gradients in shade:
The last one is actually a three minute long exposure, although to be honest, I can barely tell the difference this time:
I’ve had a few suggestions about places to photograph in Tunbridge Wells and I would truly welcome some more, but this town can be difficult to capture at its best. I promise that I will feature the rocks in a future post, but they are so huge that it is hard to get them with the context of their surroundings. Similarly, I know I need to do the pantiles, but after ten years of trying, I’m yet to get a picture where the shadows from the buildings do not make everything look more dull than I remember the view.
The biggest issue that gets in the way of me taking the picture I want is the lack of foreground. As I’ve mentioned before, what I look for in a photograph is a sense of three dimensions with something in at least three plains- in the foreground, the middle distance and the background. I can get this kind of thing quite easily when I travel elsewhere even if it does mean that I have to amuse my family by dragging a large part of a tree into the shot to lead the eye:
Particularly appealing is where the foreground actually snakes towards you, almost pushing its way out of the shot to drag your eye in:
I was out hunting for this kind of foreground yesterday, when walking around Hungershall and Nevill Parks, but possibly I should have guessed before going out that such exclusive areas might present some challenges when it came to access. Here is an example of a beautiful view which would have been so much nicer if I could have climbed over the barbed wire and got closer to some of those trees:
In this case, I have a road coming towards me, but leading to a building that is private and out of sight:
I did better when I managed to use the shadows of the setting sun as a kind of foreground:
Or here when I got as close as I could to the farm at the bottom of the hill and managed to get a bit of the ice into the shot without too much barbed wire:
But as often, my saviour was a glorious tree at the top in Nevill Park- I’ll be coming back to this one: