Trigonometry, mathematics and a very dark room

2011-43
This was taken one windy weekend in October, on Kinder Low, which is high up above Hayfield on the Kinder Plateau. Kinder Scout has a strange and beautiful topography, dark peat that crumbles as you walk on it. In wet weather you’re in danger of sinking up to your knees (don’t ask me how I know!) and when it’s dry you can see the surface bounce with every step you take. There are rivulets snaking though, carving ever deeper channels until the water hits sand and seeps away. There are strange rocks, eroded over centuries of rain, snow and wind, their surface layered like onion skin.

And there are trig points like this one, painted white, built onto rock. Something solid that persists when the sea of peat around it has been washed away like a waning tide.

So there’s mathematics. Triangulation. Trigonometry at the heart of this shot.

And finally, this week I got some time in the darkroom, where I tried out some mathematical calculations and came up with this print. There is a whole lot of maths in a darkroom, from the ratios of the dilution of the chemicals, to the adjustments of the printing frame. And most importantly the ratio of aperture to exposure time under the enlarger. I’ve  been learning it that way, linearly up until now. But this week I tried out the triangular approach, adding filters into the mix to alter the contrast.

What I can tell you so far is that it’s complicated. And it eats up time. And even though it didn’t work the way I expected it to,  it’s one of the best ways I can think of to  spend a rainy evening in a very dark room.

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