I recently spent some time taking photos in and around South Park in Oxford, of which, currently, only six have survived and one of those is an example of how not to do it.
It ought to have been easy. The view from the top of South Park capturing the spires and copulas of Oxford against the skyline with hills beyond and, optionally, little St Clement’s nestling in the valley along the main road to London. It ought to have ben impossible to get wrong – a bit like taking a duff photo of Venice. In fact, it turned out to be quite challenging and my version of the classic “dreaming spires” shot leaves a lot to be desired. The light is quite complicated (probably calling for the application of neutral density filters) and then there’s the problem of the electricity pylons …
I did manage to get one “Oxford” shot, but as I was actually interested in the contrast between “University Oxford” in the background and the real Oxford that lies to the East of Magdelen Bridge, this can only be counted as a partial success.
I’m quite pleased with some of the park shots as I think that they capture something of the essence of this “people’s park” in contrast to the self-conscious grooming of the University Parks. The effect is a quite dramatic, suggesting that this is at most only a semi-domesticated space. This looks like a place where cattle grazed (one friend remembers the herd of Fresians that lived here in the 1950s) and where Parliamentary guns bombarded the city during the Civil War.
Full size slide show on Flickr: South Park