24/11/2016 - 10:20



Heavy rains and the subsequent rise in the level of a river that one is familiar with, can bring new temporal opportunities and make the known seem quite different. An interesting time for landscape photography.





In the middle of November, as the autumnal hues of the moorland trees were peaking, we had the fierce winds and heavy rains of Storm Angus. Then another weather system followed of another whole day and night of incessant rain. The following day, a detour whilst travelling back from Ivybridge, to the southern slopes of Dartmoor seemed tempting. The shrouding nature of the wooded valley of the Aune meant that there were many vibrant leaves left in the oaks and beeches, once the tempestuous weather began to wind-down.






The Aune is a characterful river, flowing in a river valley with a wild ambience for much of it's journey from the Aune Mires near Ryder's Hill, until it reaches South Brent. There are some sections of the river that seem as familiar to me now as the traits of an old friend, not without the observation of the odd nuance once in a while. Yet after 48 hours of heavy rain, falling on already saturated slopes and into tributary brooks and streams - the river seemed so different. The usual susurrus of distant cascades was now clamorous... the river wider, deeper, familiar boulders hidden deep under the deluge of racing torrents of peaty water.







Such raw energy is exciting and fascinating to observe, as is to see a recognisable place transformed, knowing that in hours or a day or two that things will change back to something calmer. Such a notion of 'familiarity' with a location is of course an idealistic one. The river will ever change it's levels, flow and subtly it's currents (eternally); the bank side trees will change shape and height, their branches may become anthropomorphic in time; some of the hefty granite boulders may be moved by torrents after days of rain; the seasons will change the views and no two Springs or Autumns will be the same. Can we ever really, truly know a place?



“To know fully even one field or one land is a lifetime's experience. In the world of poetic experience it is depth that counts, not width. A gap in a hedge, a smooth rock surfacing a narrow lane, a view of a woody meadow, the stream at the junction of four small fields - these are as much as a man can fully experience.”

 Patrick Kavanagh (Irish Poet and Writer, 1904-1967)



May be it is us that change more than the place itself? Sudden temporal changes in an environment that we have frequented many times, I think, has the potential to further awaken our senses.. to make us gaze deeper at the surroundings. We search for a sense of order and familiarity in a scenario of disorder - it is likely that ones sense of 'seeing' rather than just 'looking' is amplified at such times. We may become aware of the unfamiliar, the previously unseen or variant compositions of earlier photographic works It is from our prehistoric instincts to notice change in an environment, this gave our ancestors heightened awareness of dangerous animals creeping through the long grasses of the savannahs, of dangerous storms approaching.





The more time we humans spend indoors, the more we lose the connections with our past, our instincts and the natural world. With that - the joy of exploring something much bigger, more powerful than us and our human achievements. Go into and explore the wild places, be immersed in layers of time (the 'now' and deep time), run your hands across mossy granite, lichen covered branches, drink from a high moorland or mountain river, smell the unctuous carpets of autumn leaves, listen to songs of the cuckoos and buzzard, eat a few leaves of wild sorrel on a Spring day for it's apple peel taste. Relish the end of heavy rain storms as skies clear and the sun dapples the land betwixt angry cumulonimbus clouds; and the temporal streams that race down hills, banks and mountains. Stages in a never ending journey of exploration and immersion in the great outdoors, for I feel it would be a shame if one could ever have 'seen everything'.



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