Chapter: Digging for Clay

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“Sunrise at Hollyford Pottery.”

This image was a planned image of sunrise that I knew would be situated somewhere around where it is. The image is to signal the start of a new day and give the location to the days events. Graphically, I composed the image to use the lead lines to take us past the pottery and to the sunrise. I used auto white balance throughout the day as I was moving from various light sources the whole time and the chances of forgetting to alter the white balance setting were high. The ‘coldness’ of the light casts blues across the frame that complements the oranges in the sunrise.

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“It all starts with digging for clay.”

Moving in closer to the pottery – the full significance of this image becomes clearer over the next few images. The spade used to dig the clay and the basket it is carried in are in juxtaposition with the completed pots inside the pottery door. Depth of field was chosen to point to the fact that the spade and basket are the main subjects.

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“Douglas and his partner, Hannah McAndrew, who is also a potter set off to neighbouring woodland.”

Here I start to introduce the characters Douglas Fitch and Hannah McAndrew who are both well known and respected potters. They have recently embarked on a new relationship that is exciting for the pottery community – many collaborative pieces of work are to come on the market soon. This image firmly puts the pair as a couple and confirms any speculation as they set of to dig clay together in the woodland near the pottery. Douglas is carrying the spade from the previous image. Compositionally I have positioned them almost as a point image to give a sense of ‘being alone’ in the expanse of trees and the morning light. The colour of Hannah’s hair reinforces the connection that they both have with their environment. The lens focal length has condensed the distance between them and the woods.

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“Stopping to consider the beauty of the woodland stream in the morning light.”

Now in the woodland, they stop to consider the beauty of the stream and the quality of the clay after such a wet winter. The landscape is a major inspiration for Douglas and is reflected in much of his work. Technically there isn’t much to this image but the light is especially pretty and casts a hint of rim light around Hannah.

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“Douglas takes a break!”

Having seen Douglas from the back and side it was time for Douglas to engage with the camera and the opportunity came as he took a break from digging. I had aimed to get an image of the actually digging but the images were second rate. I have been unable to reshoot as Douglas is now in Scotland for a few weeks. If the book was to go to a publication then I would definitely wait for his return. I am being particularly picky but the shadow from his glasses has caused an odd effect to his eye.

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“The clay inspection reveals orange and grey hues.”

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“They return to the pottery to prepare the clay.”

Returning to Hollyford Pottery with the name of the pottery clearly visible on the door and Hannah is looking towards it. Her shadow is in the window under the sign that is symbolic of her new place here. I am not Photoshop literate but I have started to make use of the clone stamp. There was a car behind them and I am thrilled that I managed to take it out convincingly. I decided to leave the shadow from the car because anything could have cast the shadow just out of frame. I think it’s better to know when to ‘quit while you’re ahead’ with these things sometimes.

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