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First Impressions & Initial Response

I started this first assignment with lots of thoughts and taking the brief not to literally as suggested. On that basis I compiled a mind map of my life.

My home town in Gloucestershire sits on the edge of the Cotswolds. Childhood life was similar to Laurie Lee’s novel “Cider with Rose” e.g. environmental changes such as our disappearing playground, a disused quarry only to become a new housing estate.

In the early 90’s I joined the RAF and posted to RAF Manston. I did not to return to Kent until 2002 in that time, I had divorced and remarried.

I decided to focus my attention on the plight of RAF Manston and its now disused airfield.


I am passionate about landscape photography and documenting an ever-changing landscape. My photography in part has been influenced by Joe Cornish.

The gallery of Axis-Mundi by Tom Hunter struck a chord that Manston, like many ancient monuments are behind fences, some have visitor centers and are accessible, yet others are out of bounds but hold importance.

Technical Approach

Using a Nikon D610 and 7100 with a 18-35mm for wide landscape and long exposures using Lee Filters and 10.5mm fisheye for wide internal work and 50mm 1.4f for low-light. Sekonic light meter L478DR.

The D610 gave me a full-frame allowing me to capture a wider image. The D610 has greater control and lower ISO settings useful in the low-light of dusk and wet days.

The D7100 a cropped sensor worked well with a DX fisheye, which I intentionally used to show the interiors of the museum coupled with the 50mm 1.4f I was able to record the exhibits without using flash.

Due to the involuntary hand tremors I have to use a tripod. This restricts where I can place the tripod hindering my composition. I used Long Exposure techniques to give the sense of time passing.


I was able to connect with Tom Hunter and how Manston’s plight shared similarities to my assignment. I had returned to a place I once called ‘home’ now demolished. In one of his essays’ he states Hunter, T (2012) ‘At the time we were trying to save our street from demolition, and ourselves from becoming homeless.’

Since its closure the airport a once busy airport and hangers now lay empty. Manston village a once busy thriving village with a post office and public house has since closed. Manston has become nothing more than a collection of buildings left to decay and damage.

A campaign group Save Manston Airport recently commented in the press Francis, P (2106) Manston Airport: Three investors come forward as potential partners to run airport in KM Kent Online [Online] at http://www.kentonline.co.uk/thanet/news/manston-airport-investors-91091/ (Accessed on 15th April 2016)


 Inspired by Joe Cornish a famous landscape photographer and ‘A Photographer at Work’ quotes, ‘I value repeated experiences, walking in familiar places, seeing what’s different.’ (Cornish, 2010:79) I used techniques using light, reflections and sweeping skies to reflect the now abandoned landscape.

I felt it was important to reflect not only the history, working and non-working parts of the base and its surroundings. I have not been able to achieve this because of the restricted access. Because of the restrictions I feel I am missing part of the story.

Manston is a controversial topic and will continue to be in the media. This project like Hunters ‘Hackney’ has similarities. I will revisit and continue to document the decline or re-growth of Manston.

Overall I am pleased with my results and the panel of images sit well together showing past and present of Manston.


Cornish, J. (2010) A Photographer at work. LONDON, Argentum

Hunter, T (2012) Essay: Under the influencehttp://www.tomhunter.org/essay-under-the-influence/Accessed 8thApril 2016

Hunter, T (s.d) at http://www.tomhunter.org/axis-mundi-2/Accessed on 8thApril 2016

Manston Airport: Three investors come forward as potential partners to run airport KM Kent Online [Online] At: URL: Athttp://www.kentonline.co.uk/thanet/news/manston-airport-investors-91091/Accessed on: (Accessed on 15thApril 2016)

Spitfire and Hurricane Museum (s.d) at http://www.spitfiremuseum.org.ukAccessed on 15thApril 2016