The last of the light – about twilight


Light and moreover, the quality of the light that I’ve photographed in has, it’s true to say, been rather an obsession for me.

Working away from the cold, blue northern light of a damp Britain, I’ve been completely enthralled by the warmth and the colour of the light of the South – particularly of Africa and Asia. Sometimes I confess, that concern has overridden my image-making – sometimes I’ve simply not taken an image that perhaps I should have done because I didn’t feel the light was beautiful enough. It used to be much worse when working on transparency film: dawn and dusk were the only times I would work outside comfortably because only then could you guarantee that rich, golden warmth.

I’ve therefore been intrigued over the last few days to read Peter Davidson’s new book, The last of the light – about twilight. In it, Davidson examines twilight in the tradition of Western art, thought and sensibility. It is an extraordinary book and a meditation on the very brief threshold between day and dusk. I realised that I’ve shot so little outside of the ‘golden hours’ that actually I wonder if I’ve done myself a great disservice. I’m not sure that except on a few isolated occasions that I ever have shot at twilight – that briefest of in-between times when the sun has dipped and ushers in a blue sky just before the inevitable black.

Digital cameras allow us a much greater latitude to cover marginal light – sometimes light that the human eye cannot see. In that way perhaps we’re becoming less aware of light’s peculiarities and certainly its perceived technical limitations. Certainly if we are able to photograph more in twilight perhaps we are less aware of its historic and symbolic meanings for past generations. Inevitably, it just becomes another time of day shorn of it’s cultural significance – and hence the kind of imagery that we can photographically reflect.

I’m not sure that except on a few isolated occasions that I ever have shot at twilight. Here’s an image taken (ironically in London) of an instant before twilight – just as the sun is dipping below the horizon.


An Eco Protester salutes the day’s end on the site in Wandsworth, London that has been occupied by environmental campaigners called “The Land is Ours”. London, UK. The land, owned by Guinness was occupied by activists who built a squatted village to show the potential of alternative land use.


The new Swampy… and the second battle of Hastings


It seems that the road lobby is on the march again (or should that be driving…). A link road planned between Bexhill and Hastings has meant a whole new generation of young eco-protesters (known as the ‘Combe Haven Defenders’) have taken to the trees in order to thwart the chainsaws and the bailiffs. The road will destroy the unspoilt Combe Haven Valley damaging an ancient woodland home to protected species.

It takes me back to the mid/late 1990’s when I did a few assignments for magazines (including I remember one for the Independent on Sunday Magazine on the Land is Ours group) about the environmental protests taking place under a previous Conservative government. My abiding memory is of descending a ramshackle tunnel somewhere under Twyford and crawling on my belly for ten yards underground to photograph a young man who’s arm was secured into a concrete pillar (see below). I never realised that I was a tiny bit claustrophobic until that point and was very relieved to get the picture and retreat the way I had come.

Here are some images from the archives.


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UK – Berkshire – An environmental protester plays a guitar outside his tent at Twyford Down in a protest camp opposing the building of the M3 motorway


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UK – Berkshire – A protester cemented into an underground chamber to prevent the M3 motorway development


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UK – London – An eco-protester from the group The Land is Ours on a squatted site in Wandsworth owned by Guiness


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UK – Berkshire – A protester in a tree protesting the M3 motorway development


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UK – London – An eco-protester from the group the Land is Ours salutes the sun  on a squatted site in Wandsworth