Lately My Photography Practice Has Turned to Garbage

Since beginning my degree course with the OCA #werareoca I decided that I would shoot everything within my home area of Blantyre. In fact I have only used images from within 2 miles of my home address all shot while walking with my camera and tripod (photowalks).

My most recent assignment was a development of an exercise looking at the quality of natural light. For that exercise I photographed shadows cast by tree branches and the play of light across the surface of the water in the Rotten River Calder. During my walks for that assignment I had noticed that, in bright sunshine, often the brightest, most eye-catching things in the river were items of litter that had been discarded. Mostly these were food packaging and drinks containers. The bright colours and branding still doing its intended job of attracting the eye, even when dumped in a natural environment.

This gave me the idea of addressing the global issue of waste, especially plastic waste, in the waterways and seas from a local perspective. The Calder is a tributary of the River Clyde which flows out to the Firth of Clyde into the Irish Sea. What is dumped locally contributes to this worldwide problem in a very direct way.

In terms of technique I decided to use long exposures to represent both the time I spend in and around this river and also the longevity of this type of waste in the environment: some plastics essentially never break down, they just disintegrate into ever smaller pieces to form ‘microplastics’. I also found the blurring of colours to bring a sense of movement due to the flow of the river itself.

This series of images is intended as the start of a longer project. It may take a while to add to it as the level of flow of the river is very low in the summer.

This last image of a piece cone in a running bath is an inversion of the previous ones as it is a natural object in an artificial setting under artificial lighting.

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