Cambridge U3A – Five Facets of Photography

I’ve put forward a proposal for a new course in 2021-22.

Mandy Rice-Davies, right, and Christine Keeler captured in a London pub by Doreen Spooner in their lunch break during the trial of Stephen Ward in 1963.

Photography, like all of the arts, does not exist in a vacuum, yet too often we take photographs at face value, paying attention to what they are of rather than what they are about.  Photography lives, and has always lived, in a world of influences and challenges to which it responds and on which it, in turn, has an impact.  It’s story and current practice reflect debates around issues such as equality, exploitation, censorship and interpretations of history.  Usually those matters are expressed through the photographs; sometimes they are expressed through the lives of the photographers. This course will explore these relationships in five sessions covering: ideas that changed photography; photographs that changed the world; women in photography; travellers, exploration and photography; and photographic controversy and the bounds of acceptability.

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Classical Contrasts 32 – Titus

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Titus was Roman emperor from 79 to 81. A member of the Flavian dynasty, Titus succeeded his father Vespasian upon his death. Before becoming emperor, Titus gained renown as a military commander, serving under his father in Judea during the … Continue reading

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Walking 32

‘Walking is mapping with your feet.’

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Blue Rope, Snettisham

Spring at Snettisham, Norfolk: Blue rope is used to cordon off and protect ground nesting birds like oystercatcher and ringed plover.

Snettisham, Norfolk, March 2021-1
Snettisham, Norfolk, March 2021-2
Snettisham, Norfolk, March 2021-3
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Classical Contrasts 31 – Silenus

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Silenus was a companion of the god of wine Dionysus and leader of the satyrs.  Sometimes a purveyor of wisdom.  Parentage various, including Pan and Hermes.  Figure: Silenus with the Infant Baccus, French School, c. 1800-99, bronze; origin Colworth House, … Continue reading

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Oystercatcher, Snettisham

Oystercatcher found in the dunes at Snettisham on 30th March 2021. No obvious signs of injury leading to death. Digital image converted to monochrome and selenium toned with Lightroom preset.

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Snettisham Mud

Snettisham, Norfolk, March 2021

At the early morning high tide the water lapped the shore like brown Windsor soup slopping in a bowl carried by a doddering waiter.  The sea retreated leaving a smooth chocolate desert finish to the beach.  Determined parents desperate to find firmer sand and the sea carried their children through ankle deep gloop.  Elsewhere the accumulated mud was riven by sinuous channels into islands and isthmuses waiting for colonisation by saltmarsh plants.

This has never been a resort of silver sands, but why so much mud?  Too much rain, probably.  This winter Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Rutland had over 170% of the normal seasonal rainfall and much of this drained into the Wash through the Witham, Welland, Nene and Great Ouse bringing silt with it.  Good for the curlew, redshank, oystercatchers; not so good for holidaymakers

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Walking 31

I described my current walking and photography project on 29th January, saying, ‘I want to explore the often messy nature of urban walking in the changeable dour months of winter that will transition into hopeful early spring’. My walks had started on 20th December, the eve of the winter solstice, continued through the spring solstice and ended on 29th March. The 36 walks took in long dark days, snow, wind and rain and finished on a sunny day of hasty picnics and ice creams (the end of a phase of the Covid 19 lockdown). The walks are done, so too is the photography. I’m now settling down to edit the pictures (34 have been posted here so far) and plan a book.

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Cliffing – Snettisham

Snettisham, Norfolk, March 2021

What is ‘cliffing’?  Irrational attendance at Cliff Richard concerts?  The act of falling off a cliff?  Noun or verb?  The Urban Dictionary offers ‘To talk/sing to one’s self’.   The Oxford English Dictionary makes it a noun:  ‘The action or sport of climbing a cliff or cliffs’; and ‘the formation of a cliff or cliffs’.

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Classical Contrasts 30 – Satyrs

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Satyrs, lustful wild men of the woods devoted to drink and sex.  Sometimes depicted with horses or goats’ tail and legs.  Part of the retinue of Dionysus. Figures: herm of a satyr blowing a conch shell and herm of a … Continue reading

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Tyre Fire

It’s beautiful and appalling: a pile of worn out motor tyres dumped and set alight leaving a mass of soot, charred rubber and a tangle of rusted reinforcing wire like spun burnt barley sugar.  Beautiful for: the abstract expressionist contrasting colours and textures; and the deconstruction revealing the complex hidden strength of tyres.  Appalling for: the waste; the risk from the fire; the pollution from the smoke and the remains; and the disregard for nature and the public realm. 

Tyre fire, Rampton-Willingham, Cambs, March 2021

Who would do this?  What is the mindset of the fire starters?  Demonstrably, people who feel unbound by the values and rules that steer most of society.  Do they see themselves as outside that society or does society exclude them, making either or both a license for the actions?  Is it thoughtlessness, or the natural consequence of another view of the world?  Or is it a considered, provocative act?

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Walking 30

‘We can walk,’ said Rose.  ‘Walking won’t do us any harm.’ 

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Classical Contrasts 29 – The Olympian Courtship

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Meleager offering Atalanta the head of the Calydonian Boar. Meleager, one of the Argonauts.  Host of the Calydonian boar hunt, he killed the boar and presented the skin to Atalanta.  Son of Oeneus and Althea. Atalanta a virgin huntress, who … Continue reading

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Walking 29

‘In the city, one is alone because the world is made up of strangers…’

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Fen Landscape – Quy Fen Pit

Quy Fen Pit, Cambs, March 2021

The water level in the coprolite pit at Quy Fen is exceptionally high.  This winter (December, January and February) has been the 5th wettest since records for the UK began in 1862.

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