5.2.2: Wish You Were Here: Orford

The second area of work in the ‘Landscaping Britain’ series focuses on Orford in Suffolk, East Anglia. Orford is a very old town surrounded by Orford marshes, dependent partly on the fishing industry. Orford Ness – reached by ferry – is a very unstable spit of land and shingle with unique wildlife, currently under threat of disappearing into the sea. It used to be a defence and nuclear weapons research place and is still linked to the nuclear industry. As a National Trust property with EU funding, it has been developed as a popular day trip destination.

Orford is ‘on the edge’ in a number of ways:

  • the extreme vulnerability to the encroachment of the sea has halved the land originally occupied by Orford Marshes and Orford Ness – currently generally held at bay with barriers and groynes, but threatened in the longer term by global warming.
  • Orford Ness was an important national defence site during World War 1 and 2. More recently it has housed a nuclear weapons research facility.
  • there are serious tensions in relation to Brexit between the local hard Brexiteer fishing industry and the more EU-supporting tourist industry and environmental agencies.

This new work from photographs taken in autumn 2018 produces three different photo series in different software and formats:

  • Orford Marshes a web-gallery and slideshow of experimental images exploring monochrome, duotone and split tone effects for a range of traditional film photography styles in AnalogPro
  • Orford Ness Black and White: a photobook of images exploring Black and White effects in SilverFX and produced in Lightroom inspired by urbex photographers, ‘late photography’ and work of Chinese and Japanese landscape photographers
  • A Great British Day Out: a Martin Parr-style documentary photobook bringing together photographs around Britishness and Brexit processed and produced in Lightroom

The series of photographic narratives explore a range of moods and approaches to develop my photographic communication skills. In particular different ways of processing processing in Lightroom and NikFX suite of software and different forms of narrative presentation in SMUGmug and Adobe Lightroom: web galleries, screen slideshows and books.

Although the works vary in mood – some ostensibly happy – there remains an underlying ‘edginess’. The main linking narrative are some of the tensions between:

  • Photographer and subject: the photographer as voyeur ‘shooting’ images of
    issues and themes that are not necessarily the same as the subjects of the photo.
  • Is the image showing how things are, or how the photographer want things to be? or how the audience wants to see them? Selective editing and erasure (eg cars and rubbish bins)
  • Different focus and viewpoint – is the photographer directing the image or leaving interpretation open?
  • Present, past and future – places change over time – even over a few seconds – short term, long term, historical perspective and layers – the past is always present but maybe the message is for the future.
  • Exploration and deepening understanding of tensions and contradiction of reality over time

The focus in this assignment is on improving the technical quality and range of possible conceptual interpretations of the photographs, and the ways these can be enhanced by the different ways of processing in different software. The assignment only starts to look at narrative presentation. It is envisaged that all the projects will be further developed – hopefully linked to National Trust among other organisations – as part of Assignment 5: Presentation: ‘Wish You Were Here’. This will include developing more professional photobooks and slideshows in After Effects and InDesign.