Sunday, April 15, 2007

Creating atmosphere

There's a eerie feeling around the Wheal Coates cliff-top mine buildings. A sense of history hits you in a place like this where few miners were fit to work past the age of 40 and many died young. Woman and children younger than 12 years old worked above ground.

Despite the crowds of tourists wandering around I wanted to capture something of the atmosphere of the place. It was a bright sunny day with a haze hanging over the horizon.

I saw Magda walking off toward the next building, her dark clothes contrasting with her sunlit hair. She seemed in that moment almost like a spirit of the past. The new piece of wall brings the image up-to-date and besides creating an interesting piece of contrast prevents the image from being contrived. I used the walls to create a sense of depth, hopefully pulling the whole composition together in spite of how small the focal point, Magda, is in the frame. Ultimately I hope the image show something of the scale of the place and conveys its atmosphere.

"In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was common place for children to be employed at the tin mines.

In 1839, 7,000 children were employed in Cornish tin mines.

Until the age of 12, young boys worked largely above ground, breaking up rock as it was brought to the surface.

Women, known in the trade as 'Bal Maidens', were also employed to perform similar duties.

Using small hammers, the women and children would break the ore down to manageable sizes before loading into trolleys and pushing it to the ore crushing machine."

From: BBC Film -CORNWALL - WORKING CONDITIONS IN CORNISH TIN MINES

Cheers for now,

Paul
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