Macclesfield Forest / by Neil Alexander

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For the final part of this year's Photography A-level I'm working towards at the moment, I have been given the theme "Rhythms and Cycles". I have chosen to make a series of photographs of the the River Bollin. I wanted to show the cycle of water from the rain falling around the start of a river, along its course to where it meets with the sea. I chose the Bollin as I grew up with the Bollin Valley almost as a second back yard, so revisiting it 30 years later felt appropriate considering the theme.

When I first became familiar with the river around the 70s, it was a stagnant polluted mess. I believe that industrial setups in the Macclesfield area used to discharge their raw waste straight into the river, and it just stayed that way. Eventually the Bollin Valley Partnership was formed and they managed to breathe new life into the river and its environs.

After extensive research I finally managed to chart the course of the river in its entirety (on most maps, it appears to disappear in Macclesfield and gets quite tricky to find again the other side), and worked out where the main catchment area lies on the edge of Macclesfield Forest.

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For this first shot, I wanted to make an image of a dank wet forest scene to depict the catchment around the source of the river. Well I got what I wanted! In fact, I got a little more than I bargained for. By the time I was finished, I was absolutely soaked and having left the camera's rain hood in the car it got increasingly difficult to get it out without drowning it.

I then decided that I wanted to produce this series in black & white. So these images are multiple frame HDR images processed in Photomatix and then converted to black & white in Silver Efex Pro. It may be a little overdone though - I've just printed them A3 so I need to get them up on the wall and digest them over a few days.