5.1.3 A Very British Day Out: Orford Ness (draft)

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. These were the subject of photographic experiment in Assignment 2.2: Suffolk Edges 2: Orford from walks in September – October 2018.

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.

The Ore Estuary and Ness are is really fascinating for its ‘tourism of decay and dystopia’. 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.

My work for Assignment 4.1 Drifting Edge: Suffolk included print series on this area.

My work here revisits photographs and adds new photographs on Orford Ness – a National Trust property for which I needed to apply for a Photographer’s permit before considering any form of publication. I continue to explore a range of moods and approaches to develop my photographic communication skills, and combining processing in different software: Lightroom, Photoshop and DxOFX. Extending this to building on my audience-related work in Assignment 4.1 to look at different forms of photographic narrative presentation in SMUGmug and Adobe Lightroom: web galleries, screen slideshows and books.

I produce two contrasting bodies of work:

  • A Great British Day Out: a Martin Parr-style documentary photobook bringing together photographs around Britishness and Brexit processed and produced in Lightroom
  • Orford Ness Black and White: an animated slideshow of black and white 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. This adds a soundtrack from my sound recordings on site.

Orford Ness in Colour: A Very British Day Out

I have produced the first draft of a colour photobook: A Very British Day Out on Orford Quay and Ness uploaded to Adobe cloud. But I need permission from National Trust to publish commercially. I am now applying for this and will then develop the material with them and other audience input exploring narrative options as on-line gallery, photobook and slideshow.


See: Orford in Colour – unfortunately the pdf is converted to single page view by Worpdress. To see spread layout – for juxtapositions and meaning – download pdf and open in Acrobat with view set to 2 page.

Orford Black and White

I also started to work on a black and white series with a rather more bleak and ominous feel that could potentially be a photo slideshow, together with sound effects of low flying aircraft, clanking metal, drip echoes and voices that I recorded on site. Or possibly, depending on feedback, a second Photobook.

This still needs a lot of work. Getting the amount of detail and tones to work together as a professional stylistically coherent series is a challenge, and I need to think through the narrative more. Probably adding some more photos. I also need to get permission from National Trust for non-personal use.

Some issues to be considered

  • 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