Inside this issue
A perfect anti-icon
I’ve been interested in photography for almost as long as I can remember, I think my first camera was a Kodak Brownie 127 roll-film – not new! My enthusiasm was rekindled by moving to Nikon DSLRs a few years ago.
Folly Pond is a small pond, about 100 feet long, situated on the edge of Blackheath, South London. It was believed to have originally been a gravel pit, then was used as a watering place for horses travelling along the main road that passes close by. The road was once the Roman Watling Street, now the A2 from London to Dover. The Pond’s heyday was in the Victorian era when it was developed and turned into a boating lake, with paving around the sides. It has now almost returned to nature; the paving has all gone and the edges are now lined with trees and reeds. It has no natural water supply and is kept topped by rain with a little help from a mains water pipe in the summer.
So why are you reading about this scruffy little body of water?
The trees, reeds and other vegetation around the pond change with the seasons; providing a varied backdrop from sparse silhouettes in winter, through spring greens to warm autumnal shades.
For me the pond is a perfect anti-icon – nobody is going to come here to recreate the views, it sits just outside Greenwich Park, apparently too scruffy to be allowed in amongst the manicured lawns and tended flower gardens. The challenge in photographing the pond is that the images have to be created, the views aren’t there waiting for you.
The pond lends itself to experimentation with creative techniques; ICM and multiple exposure work well here. The reflections and shadows of the trees on the opposite bank, the textures of the reeds and grasses, the dark colours of the water itself all lend themselves to trying to create something a bit different. Because it’s near to home I generally only take one camera and one lens; one of the benefits of a local site is no fear of missing out.
Water is always an inspiration for me; it adds more levels of abstraction whether it’s via reflections and ripples, movement that can be smoothed or highlighted or the way it responds to light and colour. Even a small body of water like this adds so much variety to the potential images.
One further source of interest is the light and shadows from the traffic on the A2; this is only a few yards south of the pond; the shadows of buses and lorries need to be worked around or worked with; as darkness approaches the traffic adds to the light.
The pond is home to a small variety of wildlife; feisty coots always seem to be looking for a fight. Mallard, Moorhen and Egyptian geese have made it their home, and the surrounding trees are often weighed down with murders of crows.
Some photographers are lucky enough to have beautiful grand vistas on their doorsteps, but if you don’t – or even if you do – try finding somewhere small and shabby near to home that you can visit in all lights, moods and seasons and experiment with it.