C H A L K

September 16, 2017

I've been writing a lot of late about my photographic ethos and use of the 'Visual Mantra', this has become a way of expressing myself, as well as being therapy through creating images. Whilst I apply this method to the majority of my images, it's additionally important for me to realise what is happening in the landscape around us, my interest extends beyond the view before us; I want to understand why the landscape is as it appears. Having always had a very deep connection with the natural world, it wasn't until my mid-thirties that I embarked on a degree in conservation, I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the landscape. In fact it was during studying for this degree that I began to venture out with my camera much more, initially taking the camera out with me simply to document the various landscapes that we'd be researching. So I actually have the conservation degree to thank for my current passion for photography, for me photography, conservation and a love of the natural world go hand in hand.

 

Thornwick Bay, East Yorkshire.

 

 

Growing up and living in east Yorkshire, I am situated in the heart of the Yorkshire Wolds, which is part of a stretch of chalk that rises up and across England in a north easterly direction from the English channel through Devon, Kent, Sussex, Surrey and dips under the Wash to reappear on the Yorkshire Wolds. Apologies for the following albeit brief geology lesson! This chalk is formed from the skeletal remains of sea organisms such as planktonic algae which accumulated on the sea bed 80-100 million years ago. By this time most of the land mass of Britain was formed but lay just beneath the sea's surface; when the water receded it left behind a thick blanket of white mud. These chalk beds covered a wide area and were pushed further upwards by movements in the earth's crust; however volcanic eruptions on the north west side of Britain and the opening up of the Atlantic ocean eroded away most of the chalk beds. So this chalk habitat forms a very distinct natural area, which to most of us is most evident in the iconic views such as the great white cliffs of Dover. Closer to home for me however are the white cliffs of Flamborough, stretching up to Bempton. I feel very privileged indeed to have these beautiful stretches of coastline less than an hour's drive away.

 

Thornwick Bay, East Yorkshire.

 

Thornwick Bay, East Yorkshire.

 

 

Areas of rare and unique wildlife, chalk grasslands have been likened to rainforest for the diversity of species they hold. But they are being lost at an alarming rate due to changes in land use causing the decline of grazing: it's estimated that we've lost 80% of our chalk grassland over the last 60 years.

 

 

In August I had a short break in Dorset, known as the 'Jurassic Coast', it is also home to chalk cliffs. This was my first visit to the area and it was amazing to link this part of the country to the white cliffs back home. 

 

Old Harry Rocks, Dorset.

 

 The Pinnacles, looking in the opposite direction to Old Harry Rocks.

 

 

I find this connection of the counties fascinating and I imagine this is going to be a very long term project for me, covering not only the dramatic cliffs and coastal regions, but the flora, rolling hills and maybe even the wildlife of this wonderfully rich habitat. I do hope I didn't bore you too much with the brief geology lesson, it seems I did learn something during my conservation degree! I'm thankful to have gained a deeper understanding of this landscape and it helps enormously with the photographic process, enabling me to contemplate more deeply on the interconnection of all things, not just the chalk habitat, but this beautiful planet that we inhabit. 

 

 

Bat's Head, Dorset.

 

 

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to comment and share. Additionally, if you share my fascination you may be interested to know that I run photographic workshops at the wonderful white cliffs here on the east coast, don't hesitate to contact me for more details.

 

Best wishes

 

Karl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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