Landscape photography



Certain areas at site C had a worrying sound that took a while to make sense of.  It was creepy enough - in a 50's sci-fi kind of way - to make me consider abandoning any photography and retreating. It turned out to be emanating from multi-directional arrays of speakers on metal posts located across a large part of the site - which was almost entirely deserted. Anyone who had to put up with that noise all day would go mad. It was a sort of lo-fi crackling, a kind of radio static or water spattered into hot fat in a frying pan. Mostly it was fizzing away but at times suddenly was more frantic like something very, very bad was about to happen. Probably to me. I worked out it must have been a method of scaring birds away from the airstrips. Having watched the early Avengers series fairly recently it wasn't hard to imagine other more horrible and weird possibilites, involving a strange, tech-y death. Mine.

I'd been planning on a trip to C for a few days but couldn't really figure out how to approach photographing it.  It isn't my usual kind of site of interest.  It is an issue that I feel is important and needs to be addressed, and by the time I'd cycled out there I was starting to be unsure of my exact political position and how I'd out argue it if I had to (maybe if picked up and questioned by security).  By the time I'd got there my position was one of not having a position and allowing room to simply contemplate the subject in a loose way, through being there and taking photographs. I'd attended a 'peace walk' a year or so ago and, after the event, heard about another one that had happened a couple of weeks ago, attended by a few dozen people, with a counter-demonstration by a handful of EDL members.

It's not a site I will attempt to trespass into but stood outside the fences topped with razor wire were enough to ensure I felt I was sufficiently 'at the location'. Imaging the building or even the control centre where the operations took place wasn't crucial to what I wanted to do whereas going there was. It's near my town, it's important to go there.

So I took a lot of pictures of the security fences and the mundane buildings and construction work visible through them, and what may have been rows of armament bunkers.

After an hour and a half I was maybe a third of the way around and the light was getting too poor to shoot at low ISO, and the batteries for the Merrill DP2 gave out anyway. I was starting back when I found something I think may have been worth photographing, the hedges alongside the perimeter fence, using my tiny sensor WX60 point and shoot camera. They seem to offer shelter for birds.

My one grain of an idea before coming out here had been to picture the airbase set in the landscape, from a distance, as an almost nondescript element within the scene, incidental, not imposing or particularly significant.  If I was one of those people in a country several thousand miles away who were living with the consequences of the operations being conducted here in the English countryside, I might be curious at what such a place looked like. Perhaps, also, when that population has become subject to long-term drone surveillance, and its associated lethal threat, then landscape photographs taken right here that centre on the act of self-concealment might incorporate a psychological element, visible only to those who have lost that basic human right.










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