Footprints on the Avon mud, and other Thursday photos

On Thursday Vik and I met in town and walked round the Harbour for the Suffragette talk at the Bristol Archives.  We were early, so went to the very edge of the Harbour to look at the river, one of our regular walks.

Avon silt bank, looking like a deep sea creature

The first thing we enjoyed was this tiny glimpse of one of the silt islands, looking like a whale coming up for air, or a sea monster lurking on the bottom of the river.  And an aside – if you look on the maps on Know Your Place, you can see there have been silt islands here since the 1880s, including this one, which I find fascinating.

Of course we went to look at the mud that banks up in what used to be the Brunel lock, one of my very favourite places.  There are almost always bird footprints here, but I’ve never seen as many as then.  I don’t know if it was a flock on in the middle of migration, or something special had been left on the mud after the spring tide, or it was just that the conditions were extra good for retaining footprints, but it was delightful.

Footprints, Avon mud

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Tuesday: footprints in the Avon mud

It was gorgeous February sunshine on a cold Tuesday, so I headed out to the mud at the very end of the Floating Harbour, my go-to walk.  Since the Chocolate Path is closed, I now take Ashton Avenue Bridge, and stopped to make a little film, taking photos once that was set up.

Avon from Ashton Bridge

There was something about the light on the texture of the mud that made the bird footprints look fantastic, especially the way the tracks would be so clear in one place, but a few steps back the mud was slooooooooowly oozing back to eradicate them.

Avon footprints

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Self indulgence, Avon mud

If you look at my site for even a few minutes, you will have realised that I obsess about a lot of things photographically, and especially about the Avon mud.   More specifically, about the way the light hits it, and how it continually looks different.   It makes me happy, and film cameras make me happy, so combining the two is great, though it makes me feel guilty and self-indulgent to keep shooting the same thing.

It’s especially an issue now, when camera film is so expensive, and getting the pictures developed it as well.   It can be around £16 in total for a roll of 35mm, and over £20 for 120 and that just hurts (you know I am missing the days of film in the Pound Shop, and cheap film outlets).   So I’m thinking of cutting back on film photography, and predominantly using digital, which is very sad for me… but before I do, I had a completely self-indulgent day shooting nothing but mud on my beautiful waist-viewfinder Bronica ETRS, for medium format “who cares about the cost!” photography.   The sad thing is, all that happened when I got the roll back is I want to do it again, and again, and again.   Ah well.

Here’s the flickr album – if you click on the first picture below, it should bring up the slideshow.  The first four are along the Chocolate Path, which feels even more poignant now the Path is closed indefinitely, with no hint from the Council as to when it might open (I’m genuinely worried they’ll decide to just let it fall into the river, because there has been so little upkeep of the New Cut, going back years).  I’m glad that at least I did this while I could.

Avon mud - shapes along the Chocolate Path


Avon mud

I don’t know why, but the mud around the Entrance Lock has been covered in muck at the moment – maybe because there hasn’t been much heavy rain recently?   It’s one of those things I laugh at myself for being frustrated about, and then suddenly see it in a new light, literally and figuratively. I love the patterns it makes, around the paths made by rivulets finding their way to the river.

Mud, marks

Avon mud

Triptych:  Mud (medium format)

I have so many photographic obsessions, and one of them is the mud on the Avon banks, especially around the blocked up lock at the entrance to the Cumberland Basin.   The silt has banked up here in corrugations, with lines where water has flowed meandering through it.  It’s fascinating in every kind of light, but my favourite moments are when the sun is low, making the water on the surface turn to silver.  The ridges and lines look like landscapes – mountains and rivers and hills.   And on windy days the light changes so fast, as clouds whip across the sky.   I made a film of that in the summer, and I need to go back and try it again in winter light.

Triptych:  Mud (medium format)

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Changing light, Avon mud

I’ve always loved how different the Avon mud looks, depending on the light, and especially how that changes on a day like today, when the clouds move so fast across the sky.  To me, the mud by the disused lock at Cumberland Basin looks like landscapes in miniature, with rivers, ridges of hills, or sand-dunes, and I’m always fascinated at how the changing light makes different parts of it jump out at me.

After a week of intense, bright sunshine, and heatwave conditions, the breezes felt so good, and I’ve been waiting for a day like this to film on, and make something that’s a meditative piece for me.   I should probably go back and film for longer, and make a long piece that I could have as part of a show/installation, but I wanted to see what it was like today.