Summer Is Here

I woke up this morning just after 4am as I often do these days and made my way to the bathroom. A glimpse out of the window as I made my way back to bed assured me that there was little point waiting the few minutes until 04.26 to see the sun rise. And probably not to turn on the computer to watch that even live from Stonehenge, open this year only to a small team live-casting it to the nation and quite a large team of security guards. The sun, as English Heritage commented on Twitter was “elusive”, failing to put in an appearance.

I’ve never been to join the Solstice celebrations at Stonehenge, though I have visited the site on several occasions, the first as a young teenager when ‘Group’ pulled up the lorry taking us to Scout summer camp in Cornwall by the side of the road and we jumped down and rushed towards the stones.

Earlier this year, going through my old slides, I came across the picture at the top of this post, taken I think around 1980. I remembered having made a number of trips to Wiltshire with a group of photographers, but had completely forgotten going to Stonehenge to photograph the sunset over the stones. Of course over the years I’ve seen so many pictures of the place, some more memorable than this.

Although we drove by it on a number of occasions, I think this was the only time we stopped to take photographs, mainly concentrating on wider landscapes and on other mysterious and sacred sites including Silbury Hill and Avebury.

I found the circle of stones at Avebury perhaps more interesting than Stonehenge and visited them several times with the late Terry King, including at least one visit where we struggled to photograph them with a large wooden Kodak 10×8″ camera which he had on loan for several years to make large negatives for alternative printing processes. We’d learnt to use it in my back garden and by the Thames not far away, almost mastering its movements and the sequence of operations, and I acted as his unpaid assistant for several trips including to Avebury.

It would have been Terry who took us to Stonehenge too. I’m not sure if we were inside the fenced area to take the pictures, but if so I suspect he will have used his many connections to get us inside free of charge, perhaps as official photographers. Though I think the 10×8″ probably stayed in the car boot on this occasion.

Like many of the colour transparencies I took in the 1970s and 1980s the two here have deteriorated over the years in storage, and both required extensive digital retouching. But though there were local patches where mould had damaged the images, the overall colour remained. With many of my slides of Avebury, fading of the colour pigments has made recovery impossible. I did make a few black and white pictures, like that above – made inside a damp mist covering the area which seemed to suit the subject.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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