Our visit to Jersey gave me an opportunity to add to my castle series. Grosnez Castle was built in the 14th century. Little remains of the castle but it makes a very atmospheric ruin, perched atop the headland at the Northwest corner of the island.
‘Grosnez’ comes from the old Norse, grar nes, meaning ‘grey headland’, rather than the French for ‘big nose’. According to an interpretation board at the site, the castle was probably built in around 1330. It was taken by the French in 1373 and 1381 and was likely demolished during or shortly after the French occupation of 1461-8.
The castle certainly has a commanding view of the Jersey coast. Just along the headland stands another martial construction taking advantage of those views, a German WW2 range-finder tower, part of Hitler’s ‘Atlantic Wall’.
It is a strangely forbidding construction, a stark contrast to the tapestry of heather and wildflowers at its base. The two structures together are a reminder of Jersey’s history of occupation, straddling some of her most beautiful landscape.
This photograph, taken in my garden, demonstrates a style of composition that I often adopt. Particularly when shooting insects, I strive to create simple images, with a bold use of negative space, to show that the subject is small but its world is big. As a viewer of images, I enjoy compositions that are pared down to the minimal, devoid of distracting elements. They are such a direct communication between the photographer and the viewer. At the same tme, they give space for the imagination to become involved.
Once again I find myself calling on John Ruskin as authority:
“It is a great advantage to the picture that it need not present too much at once, and that what it does present may be so chosen and ordered as not only to be more easily seized, but to give the imagination rest, and, as it were, places to lie down and stretch its limbs in; kindly vacancies, beguiling it back into action, with pleasant and cautious sequence of incident; all jarring thoughts being excluded, all vain redundance denied, and all just and sweet transition permitted.” (Modern Painters, Vol III, Part IV, Ch. X)
I have put together a small gallery of images by other photographers, in many different genres, that all display this approach to composition, masters of the art of kindly vacancies. Click here if you’d like to see.