I think we all have favourite subjects or places to go and photograph in the search for those “perfect” shots. I find myself drawn time and again to the small cemetery on the opposite side of the village from where I work, where amidst the more typical gravestones, a large statue of an angel stands over one grave calling the departed upwards to heaven. It’s quite a fine sculpture and has been in place for eighty-something years, so has become weathered and acquired a coating of moss and lichen.
Now I’m not by any stretch of the imagination a religious person, and I certainly don’t believe in the existence of angels, and yet I find it oddly fascinating as a symbol of our varied responses to our mortality. When I need a break from work I’ll sometimes wander up there and try to capture the different moods that pass across the little space. Often I’m disappointed – the cemetery is surrounded by tall trees so the light can be pretty tricky – it’s never quite what I imagined beforehand. Occasionally though, I’ve brought the right lens, the light is right, the weather helps out, and I fit the pieces together.
On this particular day, I’d set off for work early in the dark and in a cold, thick fog, grabbing my full bag of gear gear on the way out. As it brightened up I grabbed my gear for the short stroll across the village to find the perfect damp, wintry mood cloaking the cemetery with the fog muffling the sounds of traffic from the road through the village. I wandered about for a few minutes looking at different angles before settling on one that let me isolate the figure of the angel against a misty space between two large trees at the edge of the woodland behind. I selected the 200mm lens for the Bronica and found that to avoid getting any other tombstones into the frame I had to include part of a shrubby yew in the foreground, but actually helped the composition by creating, I think, a sense of furtiveness or intrusion to the scene.
I’m really pleased with how it turned out. When I first got the film back I held it up to the window and knew I’d got something pretty good.