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  • Ashley Cochrane

Bossenden Wood Shoot Journal - 3rd January 2019

Updated: Oct 5, 2021

Although I initially planned to have a day of research today, I woke up and saw that the conditions were perfect for shooting. I grabbed all my kit and jumped straight on the bus to Canterbury. The aim was to finish the initial shots today so I could open another day of reshooting, as I wanted to revisit both Fairbrook Farm and Bossenden Wood but doing both in a day was highly unlikely, so I needed at least two to have a chance of finishing this documentary. As I got off the bus at Dunkirk, I immediately stumbled across a devastating problem. As I was unprepared for the days shoot, I had not charged my camera. Although the battery life was still strong as I got home yesterday, I had not foreseen the hour my camera would need to be on as I put the images onto my computer. I had one bar of battery life left, which could get me through the day, but I would need to be careful. I made the decision to head straight to the furthest location on the map, Waterham, then work my way backwards. This tactic was to delay the dying of my camera to a point that I could easily access another day. I would be walking through much of this area on the next shoot, so it would not be a loss if my camera died without these shots.

There were some shots on this route however that I had to get. The area I was in now was along Courtenay Road and I was transfixed with the amazing scenery at this location. Atop Boughton Hill, this place had views that extended over the River Swale to the north, Bossenden Wood to the East and Hernhill to the west. I could see almost all of Courtenay’s locations from this one spot. Buoyed by the excitement I pulled my camera out to shoot. The fields were littered with lonely, isolated trees, pill boxes erected during the World Wars to protect nearby Canterbury and pylons and radars taking advantage of the high ground. It was a fascinating place, but I was reluctant to walk by without getting any shots as the weather conditions were perfect. The camera was not displaying a warning signal yet, so I risked a few shots.

I approached my first location, Dargate Common, wary that my camera did not have much left. But this was the first location I did not want to track back through on another day, so I had to photograph it. I felt that my battery could see me through Dargate and Waterham as they were the only two locations I needed today. Dargate Common was not influential to the story as it served more as a passing point that Courtenay walked through, one of these times was on the way to the battlefield, and near here he pulled his men into a circle around him to relay his tactics for an engagement in the hours preceding the battle. There was not a lot at Dargate Common aside from a few houses, a demolished shed, and a signpost. I photographed the sign first as a backup shot to give a sense of place to my documentary, then I spent ten minutes shooting the shed as it was the only point of interest at this location. As I shot my final shots, the inevitable warning came for low battery. This was a huge blow as I still had three miles left to Waterham. If I turned my camera off now, then it would probably last the few shots I needed at Waterham but anything I passed along the way would have to be ignored because I would likely not return as I was too far away from my start location.

After a long walk from Dargate to Waterham I made it. Without shooting along the way I managed to walk it in under 45 minutes which was much earlier than my estimated time of arrival. Luckily my camera was still alive, so I was able to get several shots at Waterham. Waterham was the home of Mrs Hadlow, a keen follower and admirer of Courtenay’s. Courtenay lunched there many times with his following, and Mrs Hadlow was more than happy to provide the men with food and refreshments. Although this was not a pivotal shot, it would be useful in telling the story of Courtenay and the inclusion of Mrs Hadlow as she forgave Courtenay and aided him even after her son told her of the murder of Nicholas Mears at Bossenden Farm. I prepared my camera but by this point, it was not letting me expose properly and it kept turning off as I tried. The only way was to get the shots at an automatic exposure and hope for the best. There was no chance of me coming back to Waterham because it was too far away and would take me a whole day to get here again. But the shot was not of major importance, so I took the risk.

My camera finally died and would not turn on again. In fairness, I had achieved all the shots I needed from today. There were a few interesting places I had to miss, such as a farm which had around 20 geese around the front gate, but in all I am satisfied with the day. I could have spent a lot longer at Waterham and Dargate if I had full battery on my camera, but these logistical problems do occur. I intend to get a spare battery for my Fujifilm to prevent situations like this. The battery has never been an issue before, but in the eagerness to go and shoot, I didn’t realise how much the previous shoot had taken its toll on the battery of the camera. In future I must carry spares, or at least charge my camera the night of each shoot so I am able to shoot the next day if I want too. The shots I got along Courtenay Road were incredible and I am very happy with them, at least three of them will make it into the edit. I also now have an end shot in case I can’t make it to the battlefield again. So today was not a total loss, I got some great shots, and I now have visited every location besides Bossenden Farm which I will visit in the next shoot. Because of the shortened day, I was able to get home in time to edit some of my images from the previous two days.

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