2.2.2 Suffolk Edges 2: Orford

Orford in Suffolk, East Anglia is a very old town dependent partly on the fishing industry centred on Orford Quay and surrounded by Orford marshes on either side of the Ore Estuary. 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.

The area is really fascinating for its ‘tourism of decay’. For this assignment I produced two photo series on Orford from walks in September – October 2018:

  • Orford Quay a series of colour photographs around themes of Britishness and Brexit.
  • Orford Marshes and Estuary: This was my first set of experiments with Black and White and Silver FX from a walk in September 2018.

Orford Quay

This images of Orford Quay were processed as saturated colour images, after some experimentation with Black and White and different levels of saturation. They focus particularly on the ubiquitous pro-Brexit signage on the fishing huts around the Quay. And my own feeling of sadness – as an EU-supporter – at the way that debates were going. But I tried in these images to leave things open for the viewer to make up their own mind.

My first set of photos of Orford Quay have been accepted as editorial stock images on Shutterstock: See Shutterstock: Orford Quay

Orford Marshes and Estuary

A series of textural landscapes processed in Lightroom and Silver FX Pro as colour, black and white, tinted, split colour and vintage effect (after the style of East Anglia photographer Peter Emerson). Influences: Peter Emerson. Dutch landscape and watercolour. Can I get the skies to come over the top?

Orford Marshes lie along a public footpath from Orford Quay along the side of the Ore Estuary. It is quite a desolate, exposed place along the inland edge opposite the National Trust Reserve of Orford Ness. In this series of images I was interested in how I could develop interesting textural photographs in colour, monochrome and split tone through digital processing in Lightroom and Silver FX. I was particularly interested in exploring the range of traditional film photography styles in AnalogPro and how these affected the reading of the image.

Antique Plate images

This landscape reminds me very much of the work of Peter Henry Emerson. The images I find most interesting are those I developed in Silver FX antique plate filter. The filter needs quite a lot of adjustment, but through reducing the white vignette, altering its centre point and then adding control points to darken and add contrast and structure on focal points to guide the eye in, some interesting ‘nostalgia images’ can be created from quite ordinary colour photos.

Tonal monochrome and colourisation

Other potential treatments In Silver FX are:

Tonal tinted images in cyanotype and sepia with varying degrees of grain, tonal colour, value and range that produce different moods and references to different film types and photographic periods.

Colour-tinted and split-tone images that give a more illustrated or ethereal feel.

For the images of Orford Marshes accepted as stock photos on Shutterstock see Shutterstock Orford Marshes gallery. The last tinted image above was my first ever Shutterstock sale – all of 0.25c – to someone from Isleham in Suffolk.

Further development

I develop these images further in:

Assignment 4.1.1 Edgescapes: Drifting Edges as a series of ‘printscapes’ in different printmaking media, informed by sketchbooks and social and environmental context from discussions with local people and background research. Together with images from other locations along the Suffolk coast.

Assignment 5.1.3 A Very British Day Out : I had started to develop a photobook and web gallery on Orford Ness, but I needed a Photography Permit from National Trust to fully develop and promote these photos in published form.