Avebury Shoot Journal - 30th October 2020
Updated: Oct 5, 2021
We arrived at Avebury late afternoon; due to the time of year this gave us around two hours of good light to shoot in. Avebury was on my radar from the offset; however, this shoot was a little unplanned. We were passing through the area, and I expressed an interest to shoot here so we popped in. This gave me a chance to get some good shots, and judge whether it was worth revisiting later in the project. Unlike Stonehenge, Avebury is a lot more accessible, we were able to park in the centre of Avebury, and it was only a matter of minutes before we were walking among the large stones. There was one field where many tourists seemed to be heading to, so we decided to head there, passing the quaint village of Avebury along the way, which contained a pub, an amazing gift shop and a small café. The field we went too was filled with sheep, as well as the largest of Avebury’s stones. From here you could also see the enormous bank and ditch that ran the parameter of the site. We spent about half hour here shooting the animals amongst to stones which gave the shots a little more interest but for the most part I was unhappy with the shots I got here. I feel there were opportunities for some extremely minimal shots with the stones juxtaposed against the bank, opportunities I missed because I was shooting sheep in the shots.
Admittedly it was hard to not shoot with sheep in the shot as there were lots of them and I was shooting at 15mm focal length meaning there was always a sheep in the shot somewhere, but with a bit more careful consideration for composition I could have shot without the wildlife, which I prefer, especially as I am trying to keep my work minimal. We decided to go off the beaten track to get away from the tourists that were now getting in the way, so we headed across the road and into a small, wooded area. Here there was a pleasant avenue of trees but given the low light conditions and the fact it was late in the year and all the leaves were missing, the shooting here was fruitless. We came back into Avebury, passing by the church and Avebury Manor which wielded some typical tourist shooting. Then we came across another field with the second ring of stones inside.
There were less tourists here, and thankfully, less sheep. But by this point it was gone 4 o’clock, so there was little light available. By this point I am shooting at f/3.5, my lowest aperture to get a consistent 1/160 shutter speed. Shooting underexposed images works in my favour in post-production as I find it much easier to rescue shadow than overexposed sky, due to the unplanned nature of this shoot I was without my filter to help alleviate such issues. It was at this field I feel my best work came but in the edit I realised many of the images were just too dark to rescue. I thought Avebury would suit an overcast shooting style, but I lost a lot of detail in the stones, and they seem to blend into the background. This was not helped by the fact I was shooting so wide that the gargantuan rocks just seemed to disappear in some shots. Having said that, I do not think shooting in the bright sun would help the contextual importance of this stone circle. Avebury is famously surrounded on mystery and intrigue, which lends itself to misty white skies. Ideally, I shoot here early morning, hoping to catch some low-lying mist but given that Avebury is about two hours from me by bus, getting here early is nearly impossible, and next time I will not have the fortune of having access to my friend’s car. My best bet is to come here earlier in the day so I am not battling darkening skies, bringing my filters and tripod would also mean I can better judge my exposure, but this was an unplanned shooting experience, and for the most part, I am satisfied with what I shot today.