One Image: A break from hop training

Four female volunteers sit by a Shepherd hut on a lunch break in the Hampton Estate hop fields in Puttenham, Surrey. The black and white wide format photograph was made using a Hasseblad Xpan camera and Ilford HP5 Plus film.

Volunteers during a break from hop training at Hampton Estate’s hop fields in Puttenham, Surrey.

It’s not long now until the hops will be harvested, but back in April the hop shoots had to be trained up their strings. In the Puttenham hop fields of Hampton Estate, volunteers selected the best-looking shoots and carefully twiddled and twirled them onto a string. It was a very warm day and with hundreds of bines to do it was hard work in the heat. The volunteers paused for a break by a shepherd hut with their packed lunches. The relaxed scene caught my eye.

It is perhaps reminiscent of an era gone by, from the late 17th Century through to the middle of the 20th Century, when many more volunteers would have been required to work various jobs throughout the year in the numerous hop fields around Farnham. In fact, in the late 18th Century, Farnham rivalled Kent and Sussex for the amount and quality of hops grown in the area. Apparently, at the time, Farnham hops sold at £9-11 for a 240 lb bag compared to £7-9 for hops from Kent and Sussex (Oast and Hop Kiln History).

A couple of volunteers in the photograph are connected to this history. Dawn Harper (left, in cap) and Karen Allen (far right) grew up in the village of Puttenham and are second generation hop pickers/trainers. Their families worked in the hop fields in the 1940s and there are pictures on the wall in the Good Intent pub in Puttenham that show them at work.

In a few short weeks the hops will be separated from their bines and shipped off to various brewers. Hampton Estate specializes in the traditional ‘Fuggle’ hop. If you take a look at the hops in your British beer or ale and see ‘Fuggle’ on the list, they may have come from Hampton Estate.

I have a small favour to ask. Working on independent, long-term projects is time-consuming and financially challenging, even more so in these difficult times. Many people have decided to pursue a funding model in which the content they produce is only seen or read by subscribers who donate or pay to do so. I have decided to go a different way. I would like to keep my work open for all, So, if you would like to support my work on this ongoing project, or other current and future projects, please consider making a one-time donation, or, if you can, supporting me with a regular amount each month. As little as £1 can go a long way and it only takes a minute. Alternatively, there are other ways you can contribute outlined on the ‘support my work’ page. Buying a print is one way, which provides you with something tangible in return for your investment. There is more information about my prints on this page. If you do not see the specific image you would like in my print shop, please contact me for information. Thank you. 

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One Image: Yellow Strand

A lone walker on the Yellow Strand near Sligo, Ireland

I was pleased to print and ship this photograph to a client for a birthday present this month. In addition to selling prints of images I’ve already made, I am also available to be commissioned for a specific image, landscape or otherwise. So if there’s a special place you’ve always wanted a photograph of please do get in touch via email if you’d like to discuss rates and the photograph you have in mind. 

Yellow Strand is on the western tip of County Sligo. When you get to Sligo town, you have to keep going a bit further north and west, through Drumcliffe where the poet WB Yeats grave lies, and on down some windy lanes and tracks to get to the coast. I have family who live out in this part of Ireland and have fond memories of our times there. The beach was always a treat, even in cloudy weather. When we got cold, we would wrap up in a vivid array of multi-coloured, patterned towels and pretend to be towel camels in the dunes. You have to make the best of it as warm, sunny days are rare. There’s a reason the west coast of Ireland is called the Wild Atlantic Way – it can get quite blustery. 

A good walk blows the cobwebs away. I’ve often wondered what that phrase really means, and I suppose it relates to lethargy, that feeling of having sat doing nothing for a while, long enough for a spider to begin to construct a web. This photograph was made in winter on a Christmas-time visit, so we had to up warm for our walk along the beach. The tide was out, enhancing the feeling of isolation and emptiness. The low, golden sun gave it a magical feeling, but its warmth was rapidly fading. While we were not alone on the beach, the odd dog-walker passing us in the other direction, it certainly felt like we were out in the wilds. With renewed vigour, we returned to my uncle and aunt’s house, an extended country cottage with white-washed walls, surrounded by famers fields, for a cup of tea by the fire. 

I have a small favour to ask. Working on independent, long-term projects is time-consuming and financially challenging, even more so in these difficult times. Many people have decided to pursue a funding model in which the content they produce is only seen or read by subscribers who donate or pay to do so. I have decided to go a different way. I would like to keep my work open for all, So, if you would like to support my work on this ongoing project, or other current and future projects, please consider making a one-time donation, or, if you can, supporting me with a regular amount each month. As little as £1 can go a long way and it only takes a minute. Alternatively, there are other ways you can contribute outlined on the ‘support my work’ page. Buying a print is one way, which provides you with something tangible in return for your investment. There is more information about my prints on this page. If you do not see the specific image you would like in my print shop, please contact me for information. Thank you. 

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One Image: Penrhyn slate quarry, Carneddi, Bethesda

4 July 2021

Black and white photograph of the Penrhyn Slate Quarry in North Wales. In the foreground the houses of the Carneddi in Bethesda can be seen.

Penrhyn slate quarry seen from across the Carneddi in Bethesda

The quarrying of slate is synonymous with North Wales and slate is part of the landscape almost everywhere you go there. Slate from Snowdonia was shipped around the world for roofing and other uses. It is also intrinsically part of the story of several people I have photographed, particularly those in the Slate Valley of Vermont. Janet Bradley Milburn’s Great Uncle, who was also Janice Edwards’ grandfather, emigrated to America on a slate ship that left from the port of Y Felinheli. 

I knew I wanted an image of a slate quarry for this project, and at least one family in my project originally comes from Carneddi in Bethesda. The idea formed that perhaps I could get a view of the quarry from that location. I hiked up the steep lanes that lead up the hills of the Carneddi to look for a vantage point. It was a warm day, so I was soon sweating. 

As I hiked, I started to notice how the roofs of the houses mimicked the interlocking landscape of the mountains. Backtracking my steps, cris-crossing lanes I’d already walked, crouching or standing on gates and walls, I looked at the town and quarry from many different angles. I made quite a few images, but I like the balance of this one. The houses feel like part of the landscape; the people who live in them, part of the land.

I have a small favour to ask. Working on independent, long-term projects is time-consuming and financially challenging, even more so in these difficult times. Many people have decided to pursue a funding model in which the content they produce is only seen or read by subscribers who donate or pay to do so. I have decided to go a different way. I would like to keep my work open for all. So, if you would like to support my work on this ongoing project, or other current and future projects, please consider making a donation, and, if you can, supporting me with a regular amount each month. As little as £1 can go a long way and it only takes a minute. Alternatively, there are other ways you can contribute outlined on the ‘support my work’ page. Buying a print is one such way, which provides you with something tangible in return for your investment. There is more information about my prints on this page. If you do not see the specific image you would like in my print shop, please contact me for information. Thank you.

Donate via PayPal HERE.


 


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