The last time I reread A S Byatt’s fascinating novel ‘Possession’, I chose to read it in November. During the course of the story the Victorian heroine, Christabel, visits her relatives in Brittany arriving in the Autumn.
“NOVEMBER 1 TOUSSAINT
Today the storytelling begins. Everywhere in Brittany the storytelling begins at Toussaint, in the Black Month. It goes on through December, the Very Black Month, as far as the Christmas story.”
So, A S Byatt informs us that the Bretons know November as the ‘Black Month’. Well, so far this November in East Anglia the weather has been very grey, very gloomy and very grim. Even the chilling north-easterly wind cutting across the reed beds of the Norfolk Broads hasn’t shifted the blanket of grey cloud. It’s miserable so I’ve found some old photos taken in the searing heat – the Middle East, Spain in August and a London Studio (??!!!), well it looks hot.
Ah yes, the ‘Black Month’ nothing to do with this month’s Internet gift shopping, but it is interesting how words have evolved new meanings with international resonance in cyber space.
Halloween – bit of a party in some quarters so I understand! In the northern hemisphere it can be seen as a marker for seasonal change, abundance into scarcity, with roots deep back into pagan times. Certainly at this time of year there is plenty of fading and decay in the garden, but it can still be beautiful.
Oh – okay, then – as it’s Halloween here’s a bad-tempered vampire, irritated rather than demonic.
Sometimes we don’t appreciate the moments we are living and then with a blink of an eye they’re gone. We are lucky in our family as my late mother agreed to be the ‘star’ of a 3 minute video filmed by one of her grandchildren as coursework for a school exam.
I remember my mother saying to me that she was the last person still alive who could remember her Granny. Like many families we have old photographs some even of our Victorian relatives, but now with videos and YouTube a moving, talking memento is captured and shared. It brings a new dimension to memories as individuals along with the film-maker actively curate their lives. But there is still space for a single shot to capture the essence of the person.
Often the first line of advice from any professional photographer to us aspiring amateurs is ‘lighting, lighting and, probably, the lighting’, with the specific recommendation to use natural daylight whenever you can.
Obviously, it is not always possible to get the shot you are after with the available natural light in your chosen setting which is a great pity but sometimes unavoidable – so you end up trying out photographic lights.
However, as an amateur I find natural light really is by far the best when photographing flowers especially when you are trying to capture that little essence of nature. Now, as I’m sure we all know all daylight is not equal, but I was really quite surprised by the difference between mid-afternoon and early evening when I tried out this small experiment taking internal shots of my mantlepiece.
Ah yes, I hear them spinning in their graves and their groans of boredom as all the Old Masters mutter on about aspects of windows, geographical location and time of year . . .