Monday, 4 April 2011

Viaduct VII

A couple more pictures from Sunday at the Viaduct.

As it happens, these ones were taken with the Olympus E-P1, which I had reboxed for resale several months ago. What with one thing and another, it had remained parked in its box under my table ever since, and I felt like taking it out for a trot. Somehow the elapsed time has made the hole in my wallet feel less acute.

The sharpness of the photographs is not entirely convincing, though this may be the result of combining Panasonic in-lens and Olympus in-body image stabilisation; one or the other probably ought to have been turned off. I guess some more tests are in order. On the plus side, I always like Olympus colours. And cameras have personalities -- I like to give them a chance to show what they do best, rather than nail them to a tripod and insist on doing it "my way".

As I think about it currently, I am doing several things with these pictures:

  • Trying to give a sense of the presence of an abandoned man-made landscape feature which is too large to photograph in its entirety;
  • Letting the formal idea of "arches" and "spans" inform the imagery.
  • Trying to capture the "here-ness" of a particular place.
  • Playing my usual games with scale and spatial relationships.
  • Relating the Viaduct to the cluster of prominent landscape features nearby -- the M3 motorway, the Twyford Down cutting, St. Catherine's Hill, the River Itchen and the "Itchen Navigation" canal.
  • Giving myself a reason to get out of the house at the weekend, and a creative focus. For example, one day soon (?) I will get up at the crack of dawn and be there on top of the viaduct -- with a stepladder -- to capture the long arched shadows of the viaduct cast across the Itchen's meadows at sunrise. I know they're there because the Google satellite image shows them!

N.B. I had a notable failure on Sunday, which was photographing the motorway bridge over the river, which runs parallel to the Viaduct. I had wanted to capture the blur of a large articulated lorry seen through the tangle of branches, but traffic was light that afternoon. Why? Because I was going to title the post "Why A Truck". Heh. Another time.


Gavin McL said...

I do like this pictures - Though I can't get Dave Leekes comment about the Sutton Hoo Helmet back on Viaduct III out of my head and despite the spring colours I feel as if I being watched.


Mike C. said...


Dave's comment was very apposite, and your reaction is not inappropriate. The area has a compelling combination of deep history, great "spiritual" power, and a sense of profound violation. Winchester was, of course, the Saxon capital of Wessex, after the conquest of the native Britons who presumably created the hillfort on St. Catherine's Hill. The M3 cutting was driven ruthlessly through a place of historic and ecological significance, in the face of fierce opposition.

It is a brooding place, and perhaps you are picking up on a very real "atmosphere" -- the abandoned viaduct, in the process of being reclaimed by nature, is very much part of that.


Martin H. said...

Passed by this yesterday, en route to a home ed visit at Intech, with the grandchildren. From the M3 there looked to be a lot of cars parked by the viaduct.

There used to be a bridge, nearby, I remember from childhood. My grandfather always referred to it as the 'Spitfire Bridge', as a fighter pilot had once flown one of the iconic aircraft underneath, with inches to spare!

Martin H. said...

Apparently, it wasn't a Spitfire, but a Curtiss Tomahawk

Mike C. said...


That's right, though apparently the plane was actually a Curtiss Tomahawk -- another layer of history and mythmaking. Unfortunately, it's been replaced by a roundabout -- nothing like as handy for my project...

The odd thing about the parked cars is that it's a popular spot for walking, but I have never yet met anyone else on top of the viaduct. I suppose it doesn't really go anywhere, and you'd have to be about 7 feet tall to get uch of a view.