Thanks to the New Malden Village Voice for publishing this article and for permitting it to be used on our website.

A photographer dreams – April

Hugh Griffiths LRPS –www.creativelight.org.uk

Arundel Castle has a ‘Tulip Festival’ each year in April through to mid-May. And last year I was down in Lancing for a few days when my wife rang to tell me that it was happening (BBC Breakfast’s Carol Kirkwood was doing the weather forecasts from there that day!). So, I took the chance to see it – our dog was not with me that time, fortunately.

The Arundel Castle website describes it like this:

Over 18,000 tulips will be in full bloom in the Castle’s stunning gardens providing visitors with one of the most impressive tulip displays in the country. A wide range of varieties of tulips will be in flower at the Castle creating an explosion of colour throughout its extensive walled gardens.”

And seeing them is far more impressive than those words … it is a truly fantastic day of colour and beauty. Well worth visiting … and it really was brilliant. I probably took over 200 photos that morning – many of which were not very good, some were OK, and some were interesting and worth looking at some more. This is one of those. These tulips (I reckon they don’t look like tulips, but I am not a gardener), were in a large bed near a fence, and the pastel colours struck me as being very lookable at. They look almost as if they have been painted – and there are quite a few photo editing tools to help it look even more like a painting. But I don’t have them and so haven’t used them.

Why does this picture ‘work’? Well, partly from the composition: the flowers make a pleasing arc across the top of the image and the fence behind is there but not obtrusive. And the colours work together. As pastels they are not too harsh or bright but are more restful and calm. This is a picture that could be blown up to quite a big canvas as wall art.

=

Arundel is a pretty little town – the castle and gardens are lovely and the town itself has character and interest; but it also has a Wetland Centre there – a sister to the London Wetland Centre in Barnes and part of the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust, founded by Sir Peter Scott.

A couple of days after seeing the tulip festival, I went to the centre. I bought a membership last year and want to make the most of it – not very difficult to do, as these places have a lot of things that I enjoy seeing. I am not a bird-watcher of any note at all, but I do like looking at them as they nest or fly or whatever.

They have a lot of very colourful birds – an unkind friend said that they are all ducks, so why bother … they’re not, and it is worth bothering – but not all of them are. The sort of pictures that you can get of the birds includes things such as unusual birds or a bird doing something that looks unusual. I have a lovely (‘chocolate box’ but none the worse for that) photo of a small gosling sitting down with some daisies around it, taken on a later visit. Or of a Canada Goose behind a fence looking through and seeming to be saying ‘Let me out!’. And there are detail photos, like this one. Very little colour, but a great picture of the fine detail in a duck’s wing feathers. I like the way that the white edges offset the grey feathers, the way they all hang together so tightly. It goes out of focus as you go to the right or the left – deliberately, honest! – and I also like that as it makes you focus on the center part, where there is more interest. I enjoy the detail in the feathers where the individual vanes grab hold of each other. And the flow of the feathers, seeming to move your eyes from the top left to the bottom right, is pleasant too.

Well, I think so!

=

Beach huts are a favourite of mine. This one is along the coastal path at Lancing towards our local restaurant – The Perch – along with about 50 others. Most beach huts are white or non-descript, but a few have been very lovingly decorated and stand as a bright light for walkers and cyclists to enjoy. I have taken photos of quite a few of these, and this is one of my favourites. In case you can’t read the text in the box – here it is …

Beach huts are a real throwback to the 19thCentury and the first decades of the 20thCentury. The colour and decorations, often they have names like “Seize the Plaice”, are not really today’s style, but the seaside humour, maybe slightly infantile to some, is a sign of life and a sense of fun. It is so easy to be a pretentious and to knock people’s tastes and enjoyments … but almost always a bad thing to do! They are used now as a place to sit and enjoy a view of the sea, a place to have the family down for barbecues (did Queen Victoria ever have a barbecue at her house on the Isle of Wight?) or a place just to sit and watch the world go by. Down in Lancing, they are also used as bases for wind and kite surfing – which give another set of photographs that can be colourful and give a great impression of life on the beach.

Another picture which won’t win any awards, but which keeps on reminding me that there is more to life than that.

=