Yesterday John and I drove up onto Dartmoor. It was very nearly balmy down in the Teign Valley where I live. Snowdrops were out on some of the grassy road banks outside of Mortonhampstead. But up on Dartmoor the wind blew chill and wintry. The tops are very bleak. They’re best explored by mountain bike and there are stacks of things to see – stone crosses, ponies, rocky tors, stone rows and circles.
For walking, I prefer the woodlands and river valleys. We stopped at Newbridge on the River Dart and meandered alongside a beautiful, undulating stone wall. I found some wild daffodil shoots coming up through the leaf litter. Spring is on its way.
John is a keen photographer and had his Nikon F80 film camera. It was fun to point out things which caught our attention and talk about how to frame up and compose different shots. I love my little Pentax A30, but really want to get a digital SLR.
I just read a book called ‘ Walker Evans at Work’ : 745 photographs together with documents selected from letters, memoranda, interviews, notes / with an essay by Jerry L. Thompson. 1982, Harper and Row, ISBN 0060111046
It’s out of print, but I found it in the Exeter Central library. I really got a sense of how he worked a subject. Evans would photograph his subject from different distances and from many different angles. He also carried 2 – 3 different cameras with him and often used each one on the same subject. He was big on editing (cropping) once the photograph was taken and did a lot of work in the darkroom. But of utmost inportance was knowing what to photograph in the first place.
“Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry, listen eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long.”
“The essence (of photography) is done very quietly with a flash of the mind, and with a machine.”