Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Year's Day

Since the mid-1980s, it has been my habit / custom / ritual / compulsion to get out of the house and take some photographs on New Year's Day, whatever the weather.  Today was possibly the worst NYD, weather-wise, I have experienced in recent years.  Strong, blustery winds, driving rain, and practically no light at all.  It took some resolve to get in the car and head out up the M3 to the Hockley Viaduct, but it's where I wanted to go.  Luckily, the traffic was light and the lorries were few, so the drive was not as hazardous as it might have been.

I think I've written before about the joys of waterproof leggings.  Once you're out in it, there's something truly exhilarating about "bad" weather, if you've got suitable clothing on.  The assurance of dry legs and dry feet completely transforms the experience: it becomes a natural high. If I'm alone (and who isn't, on a day like this?) I often find myself singing with the simple pleasure of it all.

In very wet weather, the skeleton of the old water-meadow system reveals itself.  What is normally a tightly-grazed grassy meadow becomes a series of long, rectangular islands divided by shallow channels (though deep enough to overwhelm a wellington boot, the nearer you get to the River Itchen).  The islands look quite similar in size and configuration to the acre strips of the mediaeval "three fields" system, though whether this is the case I don't know.

It's always good to start a new year with something a little out of the ordinary, so for once I had the camera set to "auto ISO", with no upper limit, and I can say with a high degree of certainty that these are the first photos I've ever taken at ISO 6400.  That the images are even halfway usable at that ludicrous sensitivity is still a matter of astonishment for me.

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