For the past few years, I have attempted a project to take and publish a photo each week. With one exception, the endeavour has foundered and the cause is always the same. I reach a week where none of the shots excites me greatly. While I ponder and dither about what to post, another seven days slip by. Before long, there is a backlog and I lose interest when I do not resolve the initial dilemma.
In truth, photography is not a pursuit that adheres to a schedule. For someone who mainly derives images by observing the world, opportunity and chance are significant factors. One of the pleasures of photography is when everything comes together unexpectedly. It does not happen frequently which makes those occasions all the more special. Many of my favourite shots have occurred in that way, but realistically I cannot expect such situations to occur more or less on demand.
This blog has also suffered from neglect, so perhaps now is the time to correct the omission with a series of articles featuring one photo taken each month. That, surely, must be easier to accomplish without compromising too much? Over the next few months, we shall see. Although I am commencing with an image taken in January 2022, I have waited over four months to publish it here. That does mean that I at least have the advantage of a dry run without any commitment to establish the project’s feasibility.
This Month’s Photo
As much as anything, this boat’s name intrigued me. “Mizpah” is a Hebrew word that translates loosely as “May God watch over you”. When I was researching on Google, I discovered that this is just one of several small fishing boats that have the same name. Perhaps it is not surprising, given the circumstances.
I got the shot of the fishing boat at Hythe on the Kent coast which I was visiting for the day. At first, the weather was not too promising with overcast and dull conditions typical of a January day in the depth of a British winter. As the day went on, the cloud started to lift during the late afternoon. By the time the sun was setting, the sky was clear and the light golden. As can be seen, I took the shot as sunlight started to appear between the cloud and the horizon. The sky acts as a frame to hold the eye on the subject, an effect that I would not have seen had I shot later on.
Royal Military Canal
Hythe has a long history. It is a “Cinque Port”, one of five ports along Britain’s south coast that were formerly responsible for providing boats in the country’s service. This could be for defence, conveying armies or fighting sea battles. Effectively, it was an early navy before the establishment of a formal military division. In exchange, the state granted privileges and liberties to the towns to manage their own affairs. Gradually, those rights were reduced and nowadays the town has no special jurisdiction that sets it apart from the rest of the country. Even the harbour no longer exists, having long silted up. A fate it had in common with others along the south coast.
Another feature of Hythe is the Royal Military Canal, the constructiuon of which dates to the Napoleonic War. It formed an artificial barrier across Romney Marsh, a flat area of land that would otherwise be difficult to defend against an invading force. It stretches for 28 miles to Cliff End in East Sussex with Hythe at its eastern end. Although dating from the early 19th century, it served a similar purpose during World War II when German forces posed a threat similar to that from the French over a hundred years previously.