The pandemic lockdown has created unique photographic opportunities within more limited parameters. I decided to explore areas of the countryside near my home. Places I had previously ignored as too dull and unappealing. I live in an area known as the Vale of Evesham in the midlands of England. The fertile agricultural land is flat and greenhouses and orchards are a feature of this area known for fruit and vegetable production.
As far as beautiful landscapes go it is a far cry from the Pembrokeshire Coast or the Rocky Mountains! However, human interaction with the land creates interesting images and I thought it would be a good challenge to explore the possibilities with monochrome film. I walked a few miles over two days on footpaths that go through the commercial growers property as well as the local countryside. I have to say it was a real pleasure.
I decided to use my Pentax 645n, ILFORD XP2 Super and a red filter to see how it would look on two very bright sunny days. I think the images turned out well and captured the feeling of this landscape altered by human priorities. I also thought monochrome would focus on the shapes, details, and textures rather than what might otherwise be worn or boring structures and flat scenes. The photos capture a bit of old and new…and me!
The walk was interesting in a different way when you are looking at potential subject. You begin to see the beauty in the shapes of the buildings and machinery used to cultivate the land. You also notice the texture in the soil as it is being planted with rows of vegetables. When I saw some people on the back of a tractor I was reminded of my childhood when I helped my father plant vegetables by hand in just the same way.
The smooth grain structure when the ILFORD XP2 Super film has so much light to work with is really pleasing. I also like how consistent the images looked in regards to shadow and highlights with detail throughout. The Pentax 645n is always a delight to use with its autofocus, great lenses, and that very pleasing sound when you press the shutter.
I hope you enjoyed a little glimpse into the Asparagus Capital of England.
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