Sunday, 20 December 2015

Ice House Exit, Stone Arches and Wall to Wall

Ice House Exit :- Or Entrance depending whether you're coming or going! In this case it was most definitely the exit as I was standing in the darkness and looking out at the vibrant colours of nature. The ice house is in 18th Century landscaped Painshill Park which is near Cobham in Surrey. Nowadays most of us have frideges and freezers which keep our ffod cold and fresh and also readily supply us with ice when we need it. But in the 17 & 1800's there were no white goods and even if there were there'd have been no electricity for us to plug them in and fire them up! So ice houses were built where ice could be kept and preserved for use during warmer weather. These ice houses were either built into hillsides or had deep pits within them. The recently restored ice house at Painshill Park dates from 1830 and is set deep in the hillside that the Gothic Temple stands upon.

Stone Arches :- A Christmas Tree stands in the halflight within the old Church of St Margaret's in the village of Rottingdean on the outskirts of Brighton. The Church is a Grade II* listed building and some sections of it date from the 13th Century. In 1377 French raiders landed and ransacked the villaged. Fearing for their safety the villagers fled and gathered here thinking they were safe in the sanctuary of the Church. They weren't. The french raiders set the Church alight and the villagers within it all perished. In 1856 the Church went through a major restoration and rebuilding project. The three-bay south aisle was added and an ancient window from the old aisle was carefully removed and built it into one of the new walls. The Church is also famous for having several stained glass windows by the Pre-Raphaelite artist and designer Sir Edward Burne-Jones who lived in the village for a time with his wife Georgiana (Lady Burne-Jones). Sir Edward Burne-Jones is buried in the nave and his wife and granddaughter (the novelist Angela Thirkell) are also buried at the Church. After his death in February 2011 the famous rock and blues guitarist Gary Moore was buried here.

Wall to Wall :- The warm glow of sunset catches a section of the three mile long sea wall and undercliff walk that stretches all the way from Brighton to Saltdean. The tide was out which enabled me to explore the beach and get the view point and shot that I wanted. There's a lot going on in this peaceful and tranquil image. Different textures make up the landscape. It's full of angles and leading lines. There's power to it yet it remains calming. In the distant peach haze the coastal City and seaside resort of Brighton can be seen.

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Sign From Above, Natural & the Unnatural and The Grand Hotel

Sign From Above :- It's incredible to think that I managed to walk out this far so that I could look up from under the famous Brighton tourist attraction and get a shot of its sign without getting my feet wet! The tide was the lowest I had ever seen it due to a Perigee moon and its gravitational pull. A day or so before we'd also witnessed the blood red eclipse of the moon so everything was effected greatly by the magnificent celestial spectacle. Normally you'd have to be in a boat or swimming to get a shot like this and not that good with either so I was overjoyed to be able to do it on foot and excited to take advantage of such a rare opportunity.

Natural and the Unnatural :- It's very rare that I venture this far along the coast. I usually lurk within the area that covers Hove, Brightonand the villages of Ovingdean and Rottingdean to the East. On this occasion i'd actually gone further East and found myself in Telscombe. I'd not been down on the beach there before and after a bit of searching to find the way down I finally made it and went exploring. It's quite different from the beaches at Saltdean and Rottingdean. There's a large wastewater treatment facility called the Portobello Treatment Works that's at the foot of the cliffs. It looks very out of place and is somewhat alien to the rest of the landscape. It could very well be another world down here which may explain why the beach at Telscombe was once used as a filming location for 'Doctor Who'.

The Grand Hotel :- At the end of every year Brighton's famous Grand Hotel is bathed in blue light and adorned with twinkling lights for Christmas and the New Year. The hotel was built in 1864 and was designed by an architect named John Whichcord Jr. At the time it was built for the 'upper classes' visiting the seaside resort and to this day it is still one of the most expensive hotels in the city. The hotel had a "Vertical Omnibus" installed which was the first lift / elevator built in the United Kingdom outside of London and London only had two installed itself. The hotel is also famous for a far more sinister reason. On the 12th October 1984 at 2:51am an IRA bomb went off in an attempt to kill Margaret Thatcher the Prime Minister who was staying at the hotel due to the Conservative Party conference that was being held at the Brighton Center (next door). The entire middle section of the hotel was blown out and collapsed. The 201 roomed hotel was patched up, rebuilt and re-opened again on the 28th August 1986.

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill

Friday, 18 December 2015

Sleeping Fields, Moat Light and Beam & Storm

Sleeping Fields :- A myriad of shades, colours and hues provided by Mother Nature at twilight. There's a magical quality that natural light takes on around dusk. It's a completely different light that you simply don't see at any other time of the day. As night subside to daylight and the sun comes up dawn provides a cold light that gradually turns to warmth with every passing minute but with sundown something else happens. The warm light of the day begins to get warmer whilst at the same time the light fades yet somehow manages to get even more colourful just before it's extinguished altogether by the onset of night. I never tire of watching it...or photographing it for that matter.

Moat Light :- If I were standing at this very spot a few hundred years ago I'd find myself very much under water and most probably also under fire as arrows and other missiles rained down on me from above. This is the long since dried out moat that still surrounds the site that was once the mighty Bramber Castle. Little is known about the Castle and apart from the odd bit of wall and a large section of gatehouse nothing remains. Wandering around the moat was quite an adventure as I'd gone there on my own so 'rustled' and 'crunched' my way through in silence with just the odd bit of biord song to accompany me. It was very atmospheric and it put it all into perspective when I looked up the very steep hill and saw a remaining section of curtain wall towering up through the trees. What must it have been like when the Castle was occupied? What was it like to be here during the documented seige and skirmishes? We'll never really know as the area is now very picturesque and misleadingly quiet. The ruined mediaeval castle is in Bramber which is a former manor, village and civil parish in the Horsham District of West Sussex, England.

Beam & Storm :- Dark, damp and seriously moody. The undercliff walk and beach at Saltdean took on a completely different look as a stormy sky engulfed the Sussex coast! Out on the horizon a wide beam of light managed to break through which immediately made me think of the old Hollywood epics based on stories from the Bible or the Science Fiction films where people, planes or aircraft would be beamed up by some UFO. I stood around for a while watching the clouds get darker and then realised just how cold it was getting so decided to call it a day and head home.

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Glimpse of Domesday, Open Skies and South of Heaven

Glimpse of Domesday :- An image that is pretty much timeless. No power cables or TV aerials. No modern structures towering up towards the heavens. Just a field, a low stone wall, a couple of buildings and an 11th Century Church. This is the old part of Ovingdean village on the South coast near Brighton in Sussex. It's ancient and is (like many other villages in sussex) mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. This was part of William de Warenne's domain. William de Warenne was the son in law of William the Conqueror and after he had played a major role in the Battle of Hastings of 1066 he was awarded large grants of land, some of which were in Ovingdean due to being part of the Rape (land division) of Lewes.

Open Skies :- The famous coast guard's houses and beach at Cuckmere Haven near Seaford on the South Coast of England. They are usually photographed 99.9% of the time from the hill that they are on so that the picturesque and stunningly beautiful Seven Sisters Cliffs form a striking background but I thought it would be interesting to put a different spin and perspective on it all by pointing the camera towards the West and shooting them from across the mouth of the estuary. Most think it would be amazing to live in such a place, commanding magnificent sea views 100% of the time and having one of the most incredible places in Sussex as your back graden but I don't think it's as wonderful as people think. Recent storms over the last few years have made me realise just how fragile our entire coastline is and that living in an 1830's built house that's lost a lot of its back garden due to erosion and is just a few feet above sea level is not such a great idea at all!

South of Heaven :- Afternoon sun gets in my eyes as I walk up a steep cliff top route that takes me West along the Coast from Saltdean to the village of Rottingdean. Just a few old concrete posts and some thin strands of wire are all that seperate me from the edge of the cliff and the sea and beach approximately 80 feet below. You can feel the warm air rise here as it comes up over the cliff top. Every now and then a lazy gull makes full use of the thermals and saves energy as it glides by with its wings outstretched.

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Last Light, Roll and Morning Light

Last Light :- A colour shot masquerading as a black and white image! Purposely shot so that the outside light coming through the windows would darken the interior and demonstrate just how moody it was and what it actually felt like to be walking around this abandoned Church that was all set to be demolished. This was one of the last photographs of the interior of St Alban's Church in Coombe Road, Brighton. The Church was built between 1910 and 1914 by Lacy W. Ridge to serve an area in Brighton known as East Preston. It finally closed its doors on closed on 22nd November 2006 and was flattened and eradicated from the landscape in 2013.

Roll :- A shot that was taken during far warmer and sunnier times. The fields and rolling hills are part of farmland that's opposire an area known as 'High and Over' in Seaford, Sussex. The view is looking West towards Newhaven (in the distant haze) with the ancient and historical village of Alfriston just a few miles down the road to the North.

Morning Light :- Here's a view that I know very well. This cliff top path is one of the routes that take when I am walking to and from the village of Ovingdean and Brighton. The path dips down at Roedean and if you catch it at the right time of day the sea glistenes in the sunlight. The image was shot mid morning and has caught the colours of the wild flowers and the vibrant green of the grass and foliage!

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Gate & Stones, Three Panels and Drying Out

Gate & Stones :- A mid afternoon shot of the Churchyard and Gate of St Peter's Parish Church in Chailey near Lewes in Sussex. The Church dates from the 13th Century and is situated on Chailey Green. The shot was taken from within the Church grounds looking West towards the old lych gate.

Three Panels :- I have to be honest and say I have no idea why these three large concrete slabs are placed here against the sea wall of the undercliff walk that runs between Brighton and Saltdean. They do not appear anywhere else along the three or so mile stretch. Just here. I presume (which is always dangerous) that the wall was beginning to fail at these three points and needed strengthening but then why didn't if fail in other areas. Maybe they serve some other purpose which I cannot think of. Anyway I found them to be a visual treat so here they are!

Drying Out :- Surrounded by mountains and thick jungle I found myself in a village in the middle of nowhere in Northern Thailand. This was way off the beaten track. Not your package holiday or backpacking Tie-dye t-shirt wearing full moon partying tourist Thailand. This was real Thailand with hot and cold running lizards, stray dogs staring at you with incredulous looks and an age old gag on repeat as every few seconds a chicken crossed the dirt road. With every breath you lungs filled with hot air and you could feel your calf muscles burn as the midday sun was bringing your legs to the boil. Every now and then a villager would 'put put' by on a clapped out motorbike held together with bits of wire and a plastic bag over the seat. Kids would shout out as you flip - flopped by with a "schlap schlap" sound that gave away you were a foreigner as all locals merely shuffled which effectively put them and their footwear into stealth mode. All the time the heat was beating down. The glorious warmth making you smile without realising it. This was my home for a while.

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill

Monday, 14 December 2015

450 Meters, Below Front and Old Lady

450 Meters :- This is a shot of the Ouse Valley Viaduct (also known as the Balcombe Viaduct) looking from the Northern end towards the Southern end. It's located between Haywards Heath and Balcombe in Sussex. It carried the London to Brighton Railway Line over the River Ouse and is an incredible 1,475 feet in length and 96 feet in height. What's even more impressive is that it was built in 1841 and used 11 million bricks that were brought by ship from the Netherlands. This beautiful Grade II listed structure is often missed entirely as most whizz over the top of it by train on their journey and therefore completely miss it!

Below Front :- A somewhat unconventional shot of Brighton's famous pier and tourist attraction. An early November evening during low tide after dark, the pier and front all lit up and refelcting in the wet sands. I went by unnnoticed standing down on the beach in the dark, blending in with the shadows. Up on the promenade people were going about the tradition of queing up for fish and chips whilst the bars were beginnning to fill with evening revellers.

Old Lady :- She's stood here since 1866. With her back to the horizon she's been staring at Regency Square and Brighton's seafront for all those years. She's entertained and played host to many famous actors and musicians. She's appeared in films, on TV and put on shows of her own. Now she's enjoying retirement. She's not as strong as she used to be. She's frail and has lost her looks but is still dignified and a grand old lady!

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill