North Fen, Cottenham

Repeat postings of photographs of Great and Little North Fens, Cottenham, on this blog can be explained in part by the fact that I walk there fairly often.  But that’s not the only thing.  I’m fascinated by the fen landscape in general, its feeling of space, its graphic qualities and its sense of being on loan until the waters return.  In the North Fens the space is given emphasis by the flat, empty fields.  There are few vertical features so the eye is drawn outwards and upwards, it is skyscape and cloudscape as much as landscape.

If this is the case, do the pictures have to be landscape, or can they work in portrait format?  These two photographs illustrate the difference (they are from separate frames, the second in not simply a crop of the first).  The portrait picture certainly takes the eye up into the sky and emphasises the height.  But it feels unnatural: our binocular vision gives us a much wider horizontal than vertical angle of view.  In other words we see in landscape.    Portrait format landscapes may be successful in places with strong vertical features, such as buildings, trees and mountains, and where a flat feature, such as a road or river, is turned into a vertical motif through framing to use point perspective.  It’s not often the right approach on the North Fens, however. Photos: Little North Fen, Cottenham, February 2019

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