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I recently went to Sevenoaks Nature Reserve on an exploratory trip with my 2 year old. Miraculously I actually managed to get some nice shots, as my attention was drawn from following his ever-running footsteps, to some of the striking aesthetics born of the natural oasis I was travelling through.

Being November, the three elements which were on my side with regards to getting some great images were colour, light and texture. Sounds obvious, but winter in Kent produces remarkable conditions in which to appreciate the beauty of the situation around us.

The colour of the leaves as the season takes hold is of course a wonderful sight. Living in Kent, the Garden of England as they say, I see this every year and have done for 33 years. It never gets dull. It’s never assumed. It is always, without fail, an open-mouthed moment of delicious shock, at how a tree so recently full and green, can so quickly become a riot of flame and opulence.

Winter light is by far my favourite of all the seasons. Low and hazy, it casts a glow over the scene. In contrast to summer shadows, which are often crisp and glaring, winter shadows are long and inventive; invoking a new aspect of reflection upon their subject.

And of course, texture. Mud. Water. Wet. Crisp. Crunch. Slop. Slide. Squelch. Burn. Bite. Smooth. Wash. Mix. The tangibility of this seasonal effect is almost as extreme as it’s tonal effect. Every aspect evokes a dramatic physical reaction. The modern instinct tells you to avoid the slop, the squelch, the burn. But once engaged, the elements draw you in deeply, in a way saccharine summer cannot.

Rarely is such a thing more beautifully satisfying than a winter walk in the Kent country.

SHOWING NOW and for sale as part of a Dartford Arts Network exhibition at the Mick Jagger Centre in Dartford until 4th January

Images taken on a Nikon D5100 with 50mm lens

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Golden

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Collision

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Nature’s Sculpture

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Reflection

Reflection

Thy beams so reverend, and strong
Why shouldst thou think ?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink

John Donne – The Sun Rising**

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Last week we embarked upon yet another trip to those strange and barren lands which make up Dungeness and the remote surrounding area. Hoping for some late summer warmth and to avoid the lashing rain typical of this time of year, I knew instinctively it would be tantalisingly free from holidaymakers. The near-deserted desert flanked by a fairly balmy English channel, not by any means tame but thankfully not a roaring fury either, which struck me as appropriately British.

We had brought the bicycles with us, intending to cycle everywhere possible, but forgot to bring the ordinance survey map. As a result, we spent the trip cycling up and down the thankfully expansive stretch of beach at low tide, intermittently halted by treacherous patches of less compact sand and psychotic wasps (are there any other kind?).

The changeable weather, as is often the case, eventually worked in our favour in terms of photographic opportunity. Looking at times apocalyptic, the variety and drama of the cloud formation and tone melded into a perfect storm, with bursts of sun spattering sparkles onto the mudflats as if the gods were hurling around lightning bolts upstairs, in some reckless game unfolding on the Elysium Fields.

I managed to capture an element of this, the extreme contrast between light and dark resulting in existing colour looking naturally over-saturated, its spectrum of pigment creating a beautiful adjacency with the frowning eyebrows of the stormy black clouds. Some images benefited from removing the hue; as we sat on the beach we remarked upon how, no matter how good a camera is, it will never exactly represent what you see through your own eyes, the view undulating microscopically as each millisecond passes, the camera having a limited technical capability and not a patch on nature’s own genius of invention. Transferring the images to black and white instantly recaptured the sense of overbearing impressed upon us by this weather, the immensity of the clouds and fluctuation of density were heightened and brought closer to reality by a slight shift in levels of tone in post-processing.

We initially hoped for clear blue skies. Thankfully we were given much more.

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Taken on a Nikon D60 with Nikon 18-55mm VR lens. Minor post-production in Adobe Photoshop.

**The entire poem is carved in wood and attached to the cladding of Derek Jarmans’ former house, Prospect Cottage, located in Dungeness.

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No Time

On Tuesday, at a time when I would normally be hunched, neckless and taut and squinting at a familiar illuminated screen, I was instead settling myself into a First Great Western corner seat and making my way to Oxford. Having not been to the city since a visit as a small child, I had hazy memories; it was Old, of course. My trip allowed me little time to take in any more of the city than my walk from the station to my destination, and back again, but interestingly my preconceptions based on childhood memories were vastly different to what I found.

Perhaps some parts of Oxford are Harry Potter-esque; magical and bursting at the seams with historical tales just begging to be dramatised by out of work actors leading local walking tours. The walk from the station to the new home of the Story Museum does not take in these sights. More like local seedy nightclubs and streams filled with rubbish, but in a way that worked for me and my trusty Nikon. The day was extremely dull. That light rain which has no redeeming features soaking everyone slowly and miserably, pairing up with the biting wind to form a two-pronged, spiteful winter weather attack. I knew instantly that the majority of the photos would end up in black and white. Natural colour was almost absent from the oxford city palette on that day, so it seemed pertinent to help it along its way and focus mainly on tone, contrast and a little experimentation.

On arriving at the Story Museum, for the Action for Children’s Arts AGM, we were treated to a guided tour of their new home, conjuring the image of what it is to become. Ready for conversion and refurbishment, the dilapidated building was a photographer’s dream. Well, a photographer like me anyway, whose particular interest lies in details and unusual composition. Lots of bits falling off of this and things stuck on that; strange objects and random placings. Perfect. What resulted from the day are shown below, with an extended selection on Flickr shortly…enjoy.

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More of the Same

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An Invitation

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Butterflies Flutterby

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Linear

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Fat Cats

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Workshop

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Menacing Illumination

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Guitar

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No Cycling

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The Shire

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18

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Look

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Capillaries

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Silent Treatment

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Modern Art