Friday, 4 December 2009

A Bigger Picture in Wales: Experiencing the Landscape

I seem to concentrate on the weather a lot recently, but with some justification as far as field trips with the kids from Milford Comprehensive and Junior Schools are concerned. Today is not going to be an exception. Low cloud, drizzle and cold followed by real rain – that was our lot today. However, my disappointment at the quality of the light was not shared by the children. They are happy to be out and about with their cameras, whatever the weather.

After about half an hour we drove to St. Anne’s lighthouse, where we had another walkabout, this time on the paths around the old lighthouse and near the new one. This gave us a different perspective on the sea, especially when a tanker passed below the headland. Some good pictures were taken of the pasture with sheep in the foreground and the passing tanker behind.

Back in school, we again looked at the children’s best pictures in the back of their cameras. This is the bit everybody likes – reviewing the morning’s work and making those difficult choices. This time the challenge of deciding the difference between natural and man made added another dimension to the process. The next time we meet will be the first Friday back at school in January and we will have our last field trip. The added challenge will be to take more time over the picture taking by looking at each shot as it is taken in order to check the focus, framing, blurriness and levelness. We should be able to ensure that even more good pictures are taken that the kids can be proud of.

Above: St. Annes Head with the comprehensive kids

After lunch Cheryl and I met the juniors at Gelliswick, a small village with a shingle beach near Milford Haven. It is ideal for this field trip, with its theme of looking at the landscape and seeing what might be natural and what man-made. The shore itself with plants, sea and shingle was easy to identify as part of the scenery that was almost purely natural, while most of what we could see – the jetty with its pipeline, the road, houses and even the fields, we decided were either actually made by humans or at least altered. The children had a great time taking pictures of almost everything around them: on the foreshore with stones, shells; the sea with boats and the pipeline; and the houses by the shore.

It was good to get back to the classroom, though. Some of us took a bit of warming up!
Looking through all the children’s work that day was a great pleasure. They had done some brilliant work and everybody was keen to point out what they thought was nature and what was changed in the landscape.

Next time we meet will be the last of the field trips and we will be concentrating on taking the very best pictures we can by checking each frame after we have taken it. Then, if there is a mistake – maybe the horizon will be not level, maybe we missed the thing we were trying to picture – we can take the photo again. This way we take more care and pay more attention to what we are trying to achieve.

Ken Day, photographer