Thursday, 28 May 2015

A Walk in the Woods

A Walk in the Woods 1 © Graham Dew 2015
A Walk in the Woods 1

Is it possible to capture the pleasure of walking in the countryside that in some way conveys the sense of travelling, the journey? Can this be done photographically other than a specific snapshot of some point en route? 

I’ve been wondering about this recently and trying some experiments of my own. Last year I read Robert MacFarlane's hugely enjoyable and popular The Old Ways. It is a book examines the pleasure and culture of walking, of journeys made through the country. Words can convey a palpable sense of movement and journey as they offer up a stream of mental images and ideas. 

David Hockney produced some fabulous high-definition moving video joiners taken on a slowly moving Jeep for his Bigger Picture show at the RA in 2012, but unlike his photo joiners, this technique is probably beyond the scope of anyone who isn’t David Hockney.

The most effective images that describe the narrative of walking are the work of Noel Myles. Because every cell in his Still Films is shot from a different viewpoint, his pictures are inextricably linked to walking. It is an essential feature of his images that hold the viewer’s attention.

Motion Picture of the Stour Valley © Noel Myles
Motion Picture of the Stour Valley © Noel Myles

As I have been experimenting with layered images recently, I have been playing with the idea of a sequence of images that when superimposed would convey a sense of movement along a path and through the woods. The first image at the top of this post was taken a couple of weeks ago one bright evening. Frames for the picture where taken about half a metre apart, with small adjustment to the zoom to maintain the size of the path in the middle ground. I’m not entirely comfortable with the ‘Zoom’ effect that this has produced. 

A Walk in the Woods 2  © Graham Dew 2015
A Walk in the Woods 2

For my next attempts taken a week later, I had the multiple layered work of Idris Khan in mind. His compositing of Bernd And Hilla Becher's houses and water towers used the repetition and reinforcement of near identical compositions. So in these two later images I shot frames every time the view was reasonably similar, often tens of metres apart. I feel that these pictures are not as successful as there is a lack of strong shapes. Maybe this might be more effective later in the autumn. But I’m not going to wish the summer away. With the fine weather it’s time for more experiments and more subjects.

A Walk in the Woods 3  © Graham Dew 2015
A Walk in the Woods 3

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