Monday, June 1, 2009

Landscape by Constable

Click image to view at 1000 pixels wide

I've always said the quality of the light in England is unique (it's certainly different from Australia, probably something to do with latitude), and the available subject matter has a very characteristic feel as well. The famous paintings of Constable, those brooding skies over scenes of rural life, were his synthesis, not his invention, because England actually looks like that. I took this shot in the Esk Valley, Yorkshire, in November 2006, from the window of the morning train on its way from Whitby to Middlesborough, and the texture, colour gradients and composition really seemed to gel. There is always an element of reflex shooting when on the move, but the train was slow enough and the subject matter far enough away to have extra seconds for a pleasing frame-up, with plenty of zoom. Note the time by the clock tower is 8.55 -- the train left Whitby three minutes earlier. I'm not sure which village this is. The lushness of the temperate woods and the landscape-marker of the church, an artificial structure rising out of nature, made as wonderful a visual icon photographically as they did as painted art in the 19th century. The verticals were squared up with a fractional fine rotation, then the softening effect of shooting through the train window was cleaned up with contrast and sharpness, and colour was slightly re-saturated. Fuji FinePix S5600, automatic, telephoto. Image by Mike.

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