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I was recently introduced to Light; founded in 2013, their raison d’être is the approach of camera technology from a new perspective, aiming for DSLR quality from a compact camera through the innovative use of 16 lenses and folded optics. I was asked if I would write about my favourite photo for inclusion in their Vantage Point project. Now that’s a challenge! How to choose your single favourite photograph …. it got me thinking and I came to the conclusion that our favourite photographs aren’t necessarily our best and often aren’t even necessarily the photographs themselves but the events surrounding their making and the memories they hold.

So – to the story behind the image ….
Stonehenge is arguably one of the most famous monuments in the world, seen by millions of people, either in ragged groups encircling the stones or as part of the interminable traffic crawling by. For many it probably doesn’t live up to the hype but I have a soft spot for the stones and, living close by, always have an eye open for new photographic opportunities. Such a chance came about six years ago when the UK had its coldest December since records began and heavy snow blanketed the country. Apart from an occasional abandoned car the snowbound A303 was empty and Stonehenge was deserted, closed until further notice. Without the belittling ring of day trippers the stones were magnificent; their presence dominated the landscape and beneath the shawl of snow draping their shoulders they revealed their true colours – shades of pink, purple, blue and green. I circumnavigated the site looking for alternative perspectives, pushing through drifts and stumbling into unseen hollows; the carpet of snow transforming the wider landscape, revealing subtle shapes and textures usually lost in a collage of green. With a little poetic licence I found myself lost in a simpler past, the sense of the unknown, the magic and mystery sending a thrill down my spine and the photos I took still rank high among my favourites; their quietness and graphic simplicity standing the test of time. Having to choose only one for this post I didn’t go for the obvious option of Stonehenge itself but rather the more quirky ‘Bird on a wire’ ….

Musical score written by birds on a wire in the snow
Joni Mitchell sang of the song outside her window where the traffic wrote the words; the A303 is less of a song, more a droning druid like incantation that drowns all other sounds but on this day it was silent, outdone by the crackling, guttural calls of these rooks, dotting the fence like a music score. Their fractured voices, carrying clearly across the snow, embodied the singularity of this day. This was an impulsive photograph of a chance encounter that I was lucky enough to capture and more so to experience, that lives with me still and instantly takes me back to that day.

And I guess that’s where Light is positioning themselves; a DSLR quality camera always to hand for those chance encounters that ultimately are so much more than an image.

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

EXIF data: Nikon D700, ISO 200, 1/60s, f14 at 300mm, RAW

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