Shropshire Hills 1

Titterstone Clee Hill looking into Wales

I have a new project to work on over the next couple of months. The project will use B&W medium format film. Before getting to that stage, I needed to run a digital test shoot. 

For my genre I have chosen industrial landscape and for a subject I have chosen Titterstone Clee Hill in south Shropshire. This is in the Shropshire Hills, which is a designated AONB (Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty – a lesser designation than National Park).

View towards Welshpool

The hill is substantial at over 1,700’ in height, the third highest hill in Shropshire, providing views over the Border Marches into Wales. It is possible to see Snowdon to the north and Cadair Idris to the west. The hill was quarried heavily in the C19th and C20th for its stone, known as dolerite or ‘dhu stone’ (possibly derived from the Welsh word ‘du’ for black), mostly used for road building. The derelict quarry buildings are made from ferro-concrete and are early examples of the use of reinforced concrete. The top of the hill has a Bronze Age cairn and Iron Age fortifications.

The site is a strange mix of bucolic rural landscape with sweeping vistas into Wales and a post-apocalyptic dystopian ruined industrial landscape. 

In January, you would expect grim heavily overcast weather conditions, which is what I am planning for with the B&W film shoot. The challenge in such conditions will be to improve the contrast and definition of unremitting grey cloud and an equally grey landscape. This is aided by use of appropriate filtration – I will be using yellow-green filter for that. 

For the test shoot I arrived in glorious sunshine, bright blue skies, and no clouds whatsoever. Whilst nice to have, it did mean that to a large extent my test photo shoot was meaningless as the lighting etc was radically different from what I will probably experience with the film camera. So, I had a day of strong shadows, featureless blue skies, and hard shadows…

I may have to do another test shoot under more ‘normal’ conditions, as I am unsure about the value of this session.  

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