Chatteris, United Kingdom
41 October 2022
Sony A7RII with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens
License CC BY-NC - Download
Back in autumn of 2019 I took the long way back from having my motorbike serviced, and cut across the heart of the fens proper. I’ve lived here for nearly two decades at this point, and I realised as I made my way through the small roads through all this flat farmland, I don’t really feel I know the land around me. I had the fortune of first growing up by the sea, and then in Scotland where hills are a constant view on the horizon, and so the Fenlands generally feels defined by the absence of either of those things (sea or hills), rather than being defined by what it is. Indeed, it’s not even so flat and open as to be visually interesting as say the vast open spaces we visited in the US South West - because the fens is effectively a large industrial estate that happens to be green, you never get uninterrupted views, there’s always hedgerows and trees that stop you getting a proper feel of the flat lands.
But the Fens are interesting and have their own character, and I’d until this point generally just ignored it. On that journey in 2019 I decided that I should try to make a zine or such collection themed around the fens to help me get to know it better, and to force me to find ways to shoot this difficult landscape that is neither featured not dramatically spartan. But then 2020 happened and it got forgotten about.
When I went up to drive the 16 foot ditch last weekend, I did so remembering this idea I’d had. I do find it hard to shoot the fens and capture what it’s like, but the only way to get there is by practice, and so here’s a first shot, trying to get a small farm with it’s flat fields, and the open, but not infinite, fields behind it. The farm is a little lost, and this is quite cropped in, so the main learning here is that I don’t need ultra wide for things like this, just some distance and some zoom is probably better.