I was asked the other day to provide a photo of The Children for a family project. Nothing difficult, nothing complicated, just a photo of the two of them, together, both looking at the camera, such as you might want to put on your wall. So I spent a while one evening going through all the photos I’ve taken since the start of 2020, and did I find a single photo that matches that description? Just one with both of them in it, looking at the camera, not pulling a daft face? Not one. Zero. Nil.
Oh well, I suppose that means that over the weekend I’ll have to try to actually get them to appear alongside each other in a reasonably-sensible-looking conventional portrait photo at some point. It did make me think, though, that actually over the past year I did take a few photos that were not too bad but are buried away in my archive. So here is a very random miscellany, from the last year or so.
On the radio this morning, in between interminable political stuff: a piece about conservation, and particularly about conserving a hay meadow near Cambridge. I’m not sure what was particularly important about this specific meadow – I was too busy driving to listen properly – but I did pick up the presenter waffling on about the natural landscape.
The meadow is next to a major road. “You can hear the traffic on the A14 behind me,” the presenter said, “showing just how we’re encroaching on natural landscapes like this.”
Which is utter and complete nonsense! A meadow is, frankly, about as unnatural a landscape as you can get. It’s entirely as unnatural as, say, Langham Place in central London. I’m glad the conservationist she was interviewing didn’t agree; presumably he knew better. There is a general impression people have, that if we let the land revert to a “natural landscape”, it would end up looking something like a Constable painting; it’s entirely false, and that’s exactly why landscapes such as traditional hay meadows have to be carefully managed if we want to preserve them.
I wish I carried my camera around with me everywhere. I don’t, because it’s too large and heavy and valuable to take it everywhere with me. There are so many pictures I wish I could have caught, which I’ve missed. I used to keep a sketchbook with very rough sketches of some of them, all far better photos than any of the ones I’ve taken.
This morning, driving to work, through the Western Fields. Mist and fog were hugging the ground, up to about five feet. Above it trees and bushes were breaking through, black silhouettes, and above that dawn through the clouds. It’s rare for the morning to look so beautiful.