Category Archives: Process

Overall Edit – Process

In separate, earlier posts  I described my initial selections for each visit. These were based on quality and composition and, in the case of the Second visit I had separated out the three areas in the location, see here .

A fellow student,  in commenting on my post on my third visit had written , For me the pool with reflections have the feel of a set, and also convey some of the magic you mentioned in one of the posts. But the details and how it relates to the surrounding area are perhaps what help define it as a place.

I thought this was a very helpful and timely comment to make me check my focus and re-define the meaning of ‘place’ for me. I’m interested in the fact that whilst I see the Artisan buildings as separate from Silent Pool, even though at least one of them depends on it for its water, I do incline towards linking the Pool with Sherbourne Pond, which it gave birth to as it were.  However, one part of the pond relates more to Silent Pool due to the inflow from it, whilst the other part relates to the brook which receives its outflow. I’m probably getting too much into semantics here so will leave it at that for now.  just in case, I have gathered together the images from all three visits I which relate to Sherbourne pond and the brook .

For the time being I have set them aside as I have those from visits to the Distillery.

I then made a selection (the third) from all three visits which totalled 48 images.

These relate to the walk to Silent Pool; the Pool; its outflow to Sherbourne pond; my walk around the area surrounding the Pool and the walk back.

I then printed those Contact Sheets, and cut them into separate images so that I could move them around, see how they relate to each other and also identify duplicates from different dates to choose between them. I also extracted flower photographs – to begin with I thought they added a separate interest and, perhaps, some punctuation in the series but my choices are limited to ‘up to twelve, so I have to be ruthless!


This work has left me with 25 images as my fourth selection. I’ve left in the images of the closed gate to the source point of Silent Pools and also the one of the old tree and its roots because they do represent boundaries, possession and survival.  I’m not sure they fit into the series photographically but I can decide when I make the final selection.






4. Mini-experiment at Thames Valley Group Meeting – Process


Reviewing Progress so far: A few thoughts/Ideas

I’ve written before about my efforts to find the right photographic approach to Silent Pool. I’d also been jotting down ideas for presentation, including the use of text – something I’ve written about previously, here  and here . Joel Colberg wrote an interesting piece about the role of text alongside photography in January 2018. His view was that one has to look at what the two do together, but this approach didn’t seem to him to be very common in photography. “Here, photographs are almost always taken as being in the driver’s seat, with text riding shotgun (at best).” He also refers to captions in photojournalism and documentary photography incorporating, “[… ] often very elaborate pieces of text that, however, often are produced by a different author and that usually almost lead a life of their own.” This contrasts with fine-art photography where images might not even have titles. Colberg queries this, wondering why omit text when it could elevate the work beyond what the pictures are able to do. To me that’s a very interesting question because I sometimes think along the reverse – at what point do the photographs become mere illustrations to a narrative?  For me, this is compounded by the fact that, in this student world, we’re expected to write a fair amount ‘about’ our photography plus we have a lot of discussion about captions and placement of text. Having looked at different ways in which some photographers use text Colberg recognises that there isn’t a single model of how pictures and text work together so this has to be figured out in each particular case – how will one inform the other?

This came home to me at a recent visit to Moving The Image,  an Exhibition at Camberwell Space, London.  When we walked into the Exhibition space it struck me as light and spacious but sparse – really minimal.  I then realised that there were no captions or titles, no pieces of information informing me about the photographer or the work.  This meant I had to spend quite some time looking at the work and trying to comprehend what it was all about in some cases; which was a good thing.  It turned out there was actually a list of works handout , with a diagram as to where they were – numbered in such a way that you didn’t follow an organic flow with it. There was also a printed pamphlet containing a quite lengthy essay by the curator, Duncan Wooldridge, with references to the pieces of work and photographs of some of them. I felt pleased I hadn’t known about them to begin with because the lack provided some additional learning and realisation.

My anxiety about my Silent Pool photographs and thoughts on text and image came to a head when I was in bed, unable to sleep, the night before the OCA Thames Valley Group meeting. What if I could do a mini experiment to test out my work; how would I go about it? Eventually I worked out a possible process in my head.  I could present some of the photographs without any explanation other than they were part of the Assignment, give group members a card each and ask them to write words or a brief sentence on anything that came to mind when looking. It would be the images themselves that spoke rather than explanatory text. Next I would tell them about Silent Pool, its history, the story by Martin Tupper and the Distillery and ask  if there was any point at which each of them became more interested in the photographs.  I did manage to get some sleep after that but got up early and printed off some of the photographs at A4 size. I used  Permajet Titanium Lustre paper for most of them as I thought this would be appropriate for photographs of water as it has a slight texture and metallic sheen. Otherwise I used Epson traditional photo-paper which is quite a heavy paper and with a slight satin sheen. I included a photograph of tree roots – kind of like a wild card but it reminded me of hanging on, clinging to the roots of something, existing over time – and also a composite image of the pool and a girl leaning over it.  The girl was from a copyright- free Victorian painting but I had distorted her figure slightly so that she leaned over further and also added a reflection.

Thames Valley Group Meeting – 18th May 2019

There were seven of us, slightly less than usual but good too as it meant we each had more time for presentation.  I presented the Silent Pool images and went through the process of my mini experiment as planned. These are the images I chose:-


After cards were written, I narrated all the events and story of the Pool then, during the following discussion, I also showed some small fabric prints.  I had been thinking about the work of Noemie Goudal, and her installation of a fabric waterfall and played with the idea of something similar as a small installation. I used Contrado for the printing as I had used them previously for the mini-project I collaborated on with Dawn.  I chose satin for one and crushed velvet for the other:


Dawn kindly made notes for me on points that arose during the discussion, which was so helpful because it enabled me to listen and concentrate on what people were saying.

Peer Feedback:



Discussion Notes

  • Looked at images individually and then interested when they were all together – before the Pool (history etc?)
  • Thought of word ‘silent’ then it looks like Silent Pool
  • Myth – a story of warning people
  • Reminds me of another story where a girl goes in a pool, goes round and round and drowns – Mill on the Floss?
  • Looks like a peaceful and romantic place. Interesting how all the layers of story-telling have built on top.
  • Permanence and fluidity. When told story I felt it was not true. I’m just too cynical. Like the monasteries who invented relics to get people to visit.
  • Like King Arthur – nobody know who or where he was.
  • From romantic landscape to commercial merchandise
  • You could take the water into your own bottles and photograph them. Produce your own
  • To me it’s wondrous; the pure pool
  • Had different histories. I thought of above and below.
  • There’s something about woodland pools that are very attractive; innately attractive.
  • These images could have been evidence from a court case; they could be forensic evidence.
  • All these elements building around the same place
  • Addition of the figure (manipulated composite image) turns it into a Victorian landscape. Conceptually I’d like to see the outline of the painting to highlight the concept.

This was all such helpful feedback for me.  I was pleased that the images did mainly seem to evoke the sense of place I’d been trying to achieve. Interesting as well about the comments regarding from romantic landscape to commercial merchandise which is very much about how we harness, own and make money from them. This led to comments re the fabric prints, including that I could make tea towels as well as bottling some of the water in a bottle I designed.  Those are also useful in thinking about eventual presentation.

Many thanks to Dawn, Miriam, Richard, Kevin, Gerry and Michael for their feedback.





Third Visit – 13th May 2019

Third Visit – 13thMay 2109

I was awake very early this morning and decided this would be a good time to drive to Silent Pool. The roads were virtually empty as was the car park when I arrived.  I was alone, apart from a tractor in a field in the far distance past the vineyard.  There was no sign of the fish in the water and the air was still. I stayed mainly by the Pool although did walk up the track towards the ridge of the Downs and then into the thickets of trees at the side; hoping I might be able to see the source point of the Pool – the one hidden behind the fence. I could only see a hint of the water through the top branches of the trees below.   I took a few photographs of the cottage on the way back down and then drove back home as the traffic was beginning to build.

I took 97 photographs , making an initial selection of 70 and then a second selection of 43 – contact sheets below.


I will now be working with 118 from the three visits and know I will have to choose from several versions of the same view in some cases.

I think with some of them I have achieved the effect I wish to produce – not for the whole final series but for part of it. At this stage I’m not certain on my approach – do I cover both Silent Pool and Sherbourne Pond and their surroundings or concentrate on Silent Pool? I have also  taken photographs of small details like waterside flower and plants so will need to decide whether or not any of these should appear in the final selection.

Second Visit – 17th April 2019

Since my first visit last July I’d discovered more about the history of Silent Pool; it’s connection to Albury and the story of Emma and Prince John. Also, the vintage postcards had started to arrive from eBay and I was puzzled by a small building by the side of the pool which was no longer there.  What was it?   I also wanted to know more about the connection with the Silent Pool Distillery. The Distillery and other buildings are on the far side of the pool with an entrance road just after Silent Pool cottage.  I wondered if that was the cottage that Helen Allingham had painted.  I had also found several sites relating to the story and also some which mentioned that the pool and cottage are haunted by a ghost as hereHere is also a an online article based on a chapter in a book written by journalist, David Rose

That was my plan then – to discover more about Silent Pool and further explore its attraction for me.

The Gin Distillery had been closed on my first visit but the sign now said “Open”. There was some construction work going on as I walked up the entrance drive.  The first sign announced the forthcoming opening of Surrey Spice .  The second sign was for Norbury Blue Cheese Company , Surrey’s only cheese makers (closed today unfortunately) and then up the slope to Silent Pool Distillery buildings.   I received a lovely welcome from Veronique who was in charge that day. She told me how the distillery began in 2014 through the transformation of a group of dilapidated farm buildings and with a vision for a sustainable business producing quality artisan spirits and using a restored vintage wood-fired steam boiler to power a new hand-built copper still. I’ve written previously about the beautiful bottle and Veronique showed me how the golden motifs illustrate the 24 botanicals that are included in the creation of the gin and references to the story of the pool are also there. Veronique knows about the story and seemed sanguine regarding the fact that it isn’t true. She confirmed that the water for the gin and other spirits is pumped directly from the pool (I think probably from near the underground source which is in the side which is fenced-off.) The distillery maintains Silent Pool, including filling the pond with trout – a side effect of which means that if the trout show signs of illness then that’s an indication regarding the purity of the water.

The new constructions will also include a terrace at the back of the buildings, alongside Silent Pool and Sherbourne Pond so that people can sit by them and enjoy Silent Pool spirits, bread, cheese, curry, and also wine from Albury vineyard which is on the other side of the Pool. After speaking with Veronique (and buying a few souvenirs, I must admit) I then went into the small distillery whose back door overlooks the Pool and with steps down to its gate.  It was a very different feeling to look down onto the Pool rather than be right by it.

After saying my goodbye’s I walked back, past the construction work along the path between Sherbourne Pond and its outlet to Sherbourne Brook which overlooks the back of Silent Pool Cottage. Another path led me to Silent Pool again.  I spent some time taking photographs, attempting to get different views of the water through the wooden lattice of the fencing along one side. The pool was a slightly different colour from last time – maybe due to a different temperature that day.  I understand that Spring water is always the same temperature but presumably that’s before it comes out into the open and subject to outside conditions. One of the visitors was a man, with a dog, and he began talking with me. He told me that he first saw the pool forty-odd years ago when he moved into the area.  His recollection was that the Pool was much clearer then and you used to be able to walk all the way around it. He mentioned that the trout in it now are rainbow trout, not our native brown trout, and difficult to breed over here. I mentioned about the small building in the old postcards and he said he had a vague recollection of something being there in earlier years, but he couldn’t remember exactly and I didn’t want to pursue this line of enquiry in case I was putting ideas into his head.

My original intention had also been to visit Albury itself but, in the event, the main road through was too crowded with traffic to find anywhere to park so I decided to call it a day and go home.

The photographs

94 images taken.  I chose 65 to process in RAW initially, from which I chose 52 as a second selection. Contact sheets are below, and I have divided them between the Artisan Companies on the site; Silent Pool Cottage/Sherbourne Brook/Sherbourne Pond and Silent Pool, including the latter’s paths.  I am adopting this approach to separate Silent Pool and the entities to which it has given birth and it’s been a useful exercise.  I hadn’t taken as many as I thought of the Cottage and Sherbourne waters, although I had also done some videoing of them. I’m feeling more and more strongly that, firstly, I need to maintain my focus on Silent Pool, which is where it all began, and, secondly, another element is still missing somehow.

The words liminal, portals and paths keep coming to me as well as boundaries.  I’ve visited many large areas of water which have open access, but the Pool has fences around it and the source point is inaccessible. Is the Pool protected from people or vice versa?   The missing element, for me, is that connection with my instinctive response to Silent Pool; something I can’t quite name or grasp at present.  This is more than gazing, looking into or a sense of wonder.  it’s a felt connection with something more elemental and I am struggling with how to translate that into photographic imagery.  It isn’t a large Pool and it would be too easy to keep going there and basically taking the same photographs over and over again.  There could be an option of a Transitions over a year kind of project which would record seasonal changes but I’m already doing that elsewhere and, in any case, that doesn’t feel like the right approach for me.



Process: First Visit

Assignment 3 : Process


 I knew of the pool because I’d driven past its sign several times on my way to other places.  I imagined the pool to be hidden away somewhere amongst the trees; maybe like a lake, deep and mysterious. At one point I asked my daughter if she’d been there; she hadn’t but knew of it and that there was also a gin distillery there that used the water.  Not too long after that I was bought a bottle of the gin for a present – beautifully presented in a blue glass, gold-etched bottle with a glass stopper.  The kind of bottle that a person might want to keep afterwards to use for another purpose.

Time passed by and then, one day last summer, passing there again, the sign loomed larger to me – Silent Pool – I knew I had to visit there. I generally prefer not to do too much research on a place before a first visit so that I can keep an open mind. However, I did go online  to discover that Silent Pool is a spring-fed pool at the foot of the North Downs  and is the only major spring source in the 10.5 miles-long scarp slope of the North Downs between the Wey and Mole Valleys. The pool is managed together with the nearby Newlands Corner (another well-known beauty spot) by Surrey Wildlife Trust, within the privately owned Albury Estate.

(Google Earth Satellite image – accessed 15.5.19)

I also obtained a pamphlet The Tillingbourne Story from a local History Society.  The pool is described as the most fiercely contested natural resource in the valley due to the copious flow of pure water from the pool. It seems that the Pool (then known as Sherbourne (Shireburn) springs was enlarged and made deeper in 1662 with an outflow to an adjacent new pond which was dug out – the Shireburn (Sherbourne Pond).   Sherbourne Pond feeds Sherbourne Brook, a tributary of the Tilling Bourne .  The aim of this was to take the water to supply the fountains at the gardens of Albury Estate which were constructed by John Evelyn. “…. They have command of a spring in this park (the Shireburn) which they bring in a channel to the place where they would have the sand taken away…” (John Aubrey, History of Surrey, quoted p. 28, The Tillingbourne River Story (1985,2006).  The final stretch of the river from Albury to the point where it joined the River Wey near Guildford was important for a long time for corn; the making of paper money, paper and gunpowder manufacture. All this due to a spring-fed pool nestling amongst the trees. This pool was recognised as having value which I think is amongst the important ways in which a space becomes a place – more on that later on.

There is also the connection with Albury and Martin F. Tupper, the person who wrote Stephan Langton or the Days of King John: A Romance of the Silent Pool, first published in 1858. This is the book which included the tale of Emma, the woodcutter’s daughter who, along with her brother Tetbert, drowned in the Silent Pool as a result of the actions of the then Prince John.

First Visit

I spent quite a time there walking around the (fenced) Silent Pool and gazing at Sherbourne Pond from one of its vantage points. Silent Pool has steps leading up to the Gin Distillery on the slope but the gate to it was locked. The distillery itself was closed that day. I also walked up part of the path to the North Downs.  I thought it was a shame that the Pool was fenced around but guessed this was to do with health and safety measures. I’d expected to see water gushing out from somewhere but not so – the water must seep in from below.  The fence was around three of its sides with no access to the inflow side. I chose 30 from 58 as a first edit plus a composite I created.



My feelings were ambivalent at that stage.  On the one hand there was the unusual colour of the pool (apparently a feature of spring-fed pools which have run through chalk) but, somehow, it lacked the drama atmosphere I’d expected.  When I discussed my idea with my tutor she suggested I could create an enactment of the story using a model but I didn’t feel too sure about that.  There was something in me that resisted the idea of enacting what was essentially actions leading to the deaths of two children.

Instead I downloaded some copyright-free images Wiki Commons images which were mainly Pre-Raphaelite 19thCentury depictions of Ophelia/medieval maidens, as these fitted with Tupper’s tale, and converted some to digital negatives.

What had earlier been in my mind was to utilise some alternative photography methods using ephemera from the pool as a different way of telling the story. As an experiment I created a cyanotype of a maiden and two chlorophyll prints on leaves.



I also created a composite

I wasn’t too sure about these experiments and I think this was because it puzzled me  – what was it about this Pool that led Martin Tupper to write his story, and then attracted people to visit the Pool and still want to believe the story even though they knew that’s all it was. How did this Pool encourage such ‘magical thinking’? At this stage I turned back to finding out more about the story, its connections with Albury and other artists and photographers who responded to it.



The Tillingbourne River Story(1984) Shere, Gomshall & Peaslake Local History Society: 2nd Revised edition (2006) (latest access 15.05.19)