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Impressions of the North Kent Marshes

For the last couple of years I’ve been pondering on how to create images of my local area – the North Kent Marshes – in a style that emphasises its big skies, wide open spaces, saltmarsh pools and reed-lined ditches. I’m drawn to reflections, an enveloping dusk and the stark contrast between the vibrant yellow of the reeds and dull browns and greens of the water in which they thrive. Spending as much time as I do on the marshes my thoughts occasionally turn to those who lived and worked here long ago – shepherds and bargemen, to name but two – and how different the marshes must be now to how it was two centuries ago. I wanted to suggest an air of timelessness and anonymity. That these images could have been taken at any time and any place on the North Kent Marshes. 

I attempted in numerous ways (including using a pinhole camera) to get across what I saw and felt but never succeeded and then I revisited the work of J.M.W.Turner, and other impressionists, and decided to use a combination of ICM (Intentional Camera Movement), multiple-exposure and focus-shift. I was steadfast in doing it all in-camera so that I could evaluate each frame and adjust accordingly and would often employ all three in a single exposure. These techniques are not new (far from it) and there are some outstanding exponents of this style. It provided me with freedom. To toss the conventional ‘how to’ manual aside. I would go out with the absolute minimum of equipment thereby enabling me to wander freely across the marsh and concentrate my efforts on the task at hand.