Probably as a result of watching the Smithsonian discussion on Diane Arbus last night and then this morning listening to an interview with Sasha Freyer about her Winogrand documentary I was out of bed early and after breakfast cycling off through countryside drowning in mist to photograph the hedges, again. It was frosty and as I couldn't find my gloves was reduced to wearing yesterday's socks on my hands, grabbed off the floor as I was going out the door.
Visibility was poor but despite that within minutes of pulling off the main road five miles later onto the track along the side of the airbase a khaki-coloured land rover turned up and a chat happened. I've been watched before but this was the first time in five years going there that questions were actually raised. It was more awkward than tense but they were respectful and fine. Having said that, and possibly as a result of watching too many of a certain sort of thriller, I did cycle home somewhat anxiously, with th…
Gideon Mendel, (b. 1959): In the 1980s, I was part of a young generation of ‘struggle photographers’ in South Africa, documenting the fight against apartheid.In 1990 I left a box of my outtakes (negatives and transparencies) in storage in Johannesburg, and forgot about it. A few years ago, they were returned to me and I discovered that, in their many years of neglect, the box had been rained on, and the top layers had been affected by moisture and mould.”
As everyone knows, digital set photography free and everybody is photographing everything imaginable every which way they can. So, bearing that in mind, I suspect that around the world there are probably ten million other people doing panoramic hedge photography and doing it year after year (of the same hedge, even). But, I'm wondering how many have been doing it specifically in the autumn, (fall), and for at least five years and a cycle ride from where they live?
That extra sift probably reduces it to the mere hundred thousand, the rest obviously being fickle lightweights, mere opportunists, passing through sucking the juice out of one subject after the next, and hedges have been left behind. And of those still left in the equation, how many are doing it at the perimeter of a military airbase where armed reaper drones are being remotely operated, airborne thousands of miles distant? I could be wrong, (usually am), but perhaps that narrows it down to a very small, select group - …
I cycled to photograph this row of security fences four times yesterday and, between down-pours, twice more today. Looking at the pictures on my eMac at home each time immediately afterwards I was again and again trying to figure out the best way of going about it to get a better result. With these last two I was hoping ten hours of rain would have made the earth embankment behind the fences a darker tone.
Most times the sky has been a typical bare, north european sky in October, almost monotone.
The compulsion to keep going back seemed familiar, it was the same sort of anguish to push on from years ago, disregarding endless doubts just to get something done, whether it was absurd or not.
There is a row of little houses not far off one end of this site and anyone there noticing me must have been increasingly concerned, what with my constant coming and goings. Feeling observed doesn't help with taking enough time to hold the camera straight for 32 pictures going one way, then 32 …
A lot of these fence panels are tagged with the name and contact details of the company who hire them out. These ones are from GENERATION Scaffolding and Access. I assume they come under 'access', as in stopping people, like me, from having access. The nearby factory site is cleared now and two excavators have been left parked at the gate where I've been doing panoramics for the last year, blocking the view, while presumably blocking anyone cutting their way in and moving on to the site (there's nothing to take).
The forecast was for a cloudy morning but sun this afternoon, so if there was anything to take pictures of I could do a repeat later in the day and have something that works across that change.
I'd photographed the fence at site A, Oasis Estate, Carholme Road, maybe a hundred times over the years of its demolition and re-development, as a sub-set of photographing there, and at site B, Phoenix Estate, several times out at Hykeham, but only a couple of time…
The forecast for rain nearly all day was pretty accurate and I set off expecting my third or fourth soaking in as many days, (one or two of which have been super-nice, it's not cold, and it's life). The camera kept going despite the constant soaking it was getting for nearly an hour. Every few shots I'd swab the water off it with my tee-shirt, and try to lean over it to protect it. For a cheap consumer point and shoot that's unexpectedly good. If it had been an expensive camera, even one with weather-sealing, I'd have gone home early if having bothered to go out at all.
I wanted the earth tones from the saturated soil, the shining rain on the ground was an extra. I was taking sweeps and single frame images with the intention to composite later. The one thing I had strangely not accounted for in the slightest was sinking in to the mud up to my ankles. In the past on other sites this feeling used to scare me, the dirtiness and also being nearly stuck.
When this first came out I thought it was a bit obvious, both the subject, wasteland, and the New Topographic aesthetic, which seemed to me a bit less effective, almost becoming less careful, compared to the sublime works 'New Industrial Parks' and 'Park City'. But lately I've looked at it again a few times and, for whatever reason, I find it increasingly meaningful. Looking at this flip-thru just now I like the sensation of being there, while he explored and found the things he was interested in looking at. He becomes very much alive again in these photographs, and for that alone I'm very glad.