This photograph shows the entrance to my house, seen from an unusual point of view.
I’m finding the 4×5 camera a challenge – I have yet to develop a feel for it – to ‘see’ as it does, and need much practice and experience before I can reliably produce work I’m happy with.
So, to make a virtue of necessity, for the duration of the lock-down I am photographing our house and garden using the 4×5 camera.
It’s nice to be able to spend ages setting up a composition, getting the focus and the ‘movements’ right – all done under a large, vivid red focusing cloth – without curious onlookers breaking my concentration (which large format photography requires much more of than 35mm photography).
Maybe the most spectacular architecture in the town of Bédarieux is its viaduct. A structure consisting of 37 vaulted arches crossing the valley of the river Orb. It was built in order to give the bauxite quarries in the surrounding hills access to the Paris/Béziers mainline, which passes through Bédarieux.
Trains ceased using it a long time ago, but for a long time it served as a short-cut across the valley for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians. Now, for safety reasons, even these are prevented from using the viaduct.
I live nearby. It is a simple but fascinating structure, and each time I walk under it I learn a little bit more about architecture. The other day, when the river Orb was in full spate after heavy rains, I observed how those piers that stood in the river, their bases had the shape of a shield laid horizontally, the point of the shield directed upstream. I noticed how this point split the current, and also deflected branches and larger debris, which would have otherwise got stuck, caused accumulations and created a dam.
These photos don’t show the viaducts entire span. To have attempted such a photograph would have been to allow the ‘concept’ of the viaduct to distract me from the (I think) more subtle beauty that Chance, Occasion and Disordered Reality were offering me.
Keen-eyed observers will notice that one of the two photographs has been horizontally flipped.