As a child, I watched with unconcealed excitement as my father developed his film photographs in the dark room at home - seeing the images reveal themselves in the solution seemed magical to me and, if I was lucky, he would let me peg them on to the line in the dark room to dry!
Photography still holds that magic for me 50 years later, whether it’s digital, analogue, or cameraless. I moved to Herefordshire in 2018, after 30 years working in care professions - mostly as an ambulance paramedic but now as a carer for people living at home for the last months of their lives. The peace and solitude of landscape photography is the salve to my work as a carer: weaving light and shadows into pictures to express how happy a place, a bird, a tree, or a sky make me feel and hoping that others feel a little of that peace or magic too.
Photography brings me closer to the other things that I really care about. Spending time in nature, connecting with it through all the senses is, I think, greatest at night. Feeling the soft flutter of a bat as it hunts in the air around me; smelling warm, dewy grass; delighting in the noisy chatter of the skylarks settling into the heather on the ridge; or feeling the icy cold air against my nose in winter as I look skyward to watch the Milky Way slowly reveal its hazy sparkles, admiring it beneath the frosted rim of my bobble hat; tasting the scent of coconut that drifts from the gorse… these are just some of the sensations I try to capture with my photography.
My passion for moonlit landscapes extends to another form of photography: the photogram. Now more commonly known as sun printing, creating a cyanotype photogram is a cameraless technique that dates back to 1842, when the astronomer Sir John Herschel was experimenting with ways to fix his notes and invented the blueprint. Anna Atkins showed how beautiful the process could be, when she published her ‘Book of Ferns’ in 1843. I am now extending the process to develop my prints by moonlight, creating a lunar photogram using plant material collected from the trimmings of pruned hedgerows and verges. I also pick up leaf skeletons and some flowers from my garden when they are going over, anything that makes a nice composition on the paper. Lunar photograms are very exciting to produce as you never know quite what is going to happen until you wash the prints and the pictures emerge. It’s like being back with Dad in his darkroom again.