A Square Mile


“The landscape of youth is laden with memories, my photography draws on the overlapping cycles as young people discover and grow through the background to their lives, how they react to it and what they do within this space can have a profound effect on how we view ourselves in relation to the surrounding world.  Our place of youth, our ‘home’ and the memories created during this period, for better or worse can create an embedded sense of place and can go someway in self-defining our later life attitudes” (Barnard, G. http://gawainbarnard.com/photo_13162026.html accessed on 11/09/2016)

When I read this quote it  resonated with me and what I had been trying to achieve over a first week of photography on the beach near where I am currently living.

As I had pulled a muscle the previous weekend I had chosen the beach area to start my Square Mile assignment due to finding it easier to walk on the soft sand.

I took a number of pictures and had been mulling over how to present this series of photos as a cohesive set. I did a mind map with all the thoughts encapsulated in the above quote and my own thoughts and  ended up with some overarching themes.



The word ‘nostalgia’ was at the forefront after looking at Dearden’s work and particularly her Somerset Stories – Fivepenny dreams (http://www.venetiadearden.com/en/show_book accessed on 11/09/2016).

I have spent most of my life living near the sea – much of my childhood years were spent in Fiji where we had our own ‘Treasure Island’ while my teenage years were spent living about a 10 minute walk from a surf beach called St Clair in Dunedin.  Like other teenagers I had my turbulent moments but a walk down there and a look at the stormy waves for an hour or two usually calmed me.  I am now living on the other side of the world on a small island – the Isle of Man.  I’m  living in Ramsey (or Rhumsaa in Old Norse) in the north of the island and have been back here since mid-July.  I had always been fascinated by the old Queens Pier on the beach.


I wanted to explore history of Ramsey a little as well as it seemed to be what I perceive to be a quintessential English seaside town replicated here on the island as shown in the photo at the top of the page and the rattly old tram making its way into town.


As I began to build up my photos I was reminded of the many moods and emotions that the sea can invoke and wanted to try and capture these.


This photo was taken on the walk down to the beach – the closed gate takes me back to my childhood and reading the book The Secret Garden (Burnett, F.H. (1911).  Having gone back to my childhood I felt the next photo showed the excitement of childhood at being on the beach and the feeling of the sand through bare feet


Sticking with the childhood theme I took two  photos that demonstrated the exploration and detail that young children will do when on the beach – the first is somewhat abstract and allows for the creativity of childhood before one is expected to conform to the rules of adult society.


But at the same time children can be more precise and look for something specific like the fossils in this rock


Carrying on through the life cycle and the turbulent teenage years I came across the remains of this old ship wreck on the beach and felt it represented the storms that can occur during this period


On becoming more independent one may have dreams that lead them to sail away (on the island often for further education)


The parents may suffer from ’empty nest syndrome’ and feelings of loneliness as I felt the next photo showed


A beach invites lots of dog walkers and I did get into conversation with one lady who agreed to pose for me.  Doing this was out of my ‘comfort zone’ as I generally find it hard to take photos of people – I have put this one in as representing the retired period of the life cycle where you have the time to do things like walking the dog but also the friendliness of the beach environment where you can start talking to a complete stranger.img_0707v2

At the end of life  one needs to come to terms with dying and one always hopes for tranquility at this stage.  Finally there is always the next generation and a new awakening (this takes me back to my New Zealand and Social Work roots – there was a report written some years ago called Pauo-te-ata-tu – or day break which heralded a new way of working with families) and the hope for the future so I felt this picture taken at sunrise represented these things:



The equipment I used for these photos was a Canon 6D camera.  Most of the photos were taken with my 24-105 standard lens with the two close ups being done with a Sigma 100 macro lens.  For the photos where the water is blurred I used a tripod with an ISO of 100, a slow shutter speed and narrow aperture and the self-timer.  I learnt through trial and error – one of my biggest mistakes was forgetting to change settings when I moved to a different area on the beach.  I was using the Live View to compose and also often forgot I needed to switch this off to take a photo with the self-timer.  I turned some into black and white either because I felt the colour was distracting and it was more atmospheric or to show detail as in the fossil photo.  I felt pleased with my final selection and that I could demonstrate some of the themes that had interested me particularly through the use of the Life Cycle.



Barnard, Gawain: http://gawainbarnard.com/photo_13162026.html accessed on 11/09/2016)

Burnett, F.H.  (First published 1911).  The Secret Garden.

Dearden, Venetia: http://www.venetiadearden.com/en/show_book accessed on 11/09/2016).

The following websites give a bit more history about Ramsey and some of the things in the photos:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramsey,_Isle_of_Man (accessed 17/09/2016)

https://www.piers.org.uk/pier/ramsey-queens-pier/ (accessed 17/09/2016)

https://www.facebook.com/LouisaJaneBawdenPhotography/photos/?tab=album&album_id=726198077507569 (accessed 17/09/2016)– gives a little more information about the shipwreck and a number of photos with more detail

https://www.gov.im/categories/travel-traffic-and-motoring/bus-and-rail/heritage-railways/manx-electric-railway/ (accessed 17/09/2016)




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