Kirkstall Abbey July 2012


Kirkstall used to be near the city of Leeds. These days it’s been swallowed up by the spreading conurbation and has become a suburb. Its major claim to fame, apart from the “Kirkstall Lane end” of Headingley’s cricket ground, is its abbey, which was of course built many years ago – at the very least before breakfast on the day before yesterday! If you need more info than that – try Google ……

It offered itself as the site for the second of our camera club “summer outings”, and is undoubtedly photogenic, even on a day of varying and indifferent weather. Full of people, it being now the school holidays, enjoying themselves in all sorts of non-monastic ways – that’s all good then!

I went with a predisposition towards black and white, which proved to be only partly appropriate. The exterior shots do indeed seem to work better in monochrome – all jagged edges and complex shapes. The interiors surprised me though. The sunlight when it came (more sporadically than my chosen images suggest) drew out some excellent soft colours from the old stones, revealing particularly delightful ceilings to the still intact side arches, and altogether I enjoyed the play of the light on the stone as much as any aspect of the day.

The third element that struck me was the growth of vegetation from what appeared to be little else than the stones themselves. I’ve included in this group a pigeon that looked as surprised to see us as we were to see him at such close quarters – seemed happy enough to pose for the camera though!

My favourites? Oddly enough these come from the colour group rather than the b&ws, and are numbers 9 & 10. These are of and around a stone coffin in a dark end of the old building, illuminated by light filtering through the bars on the empty window. In “10” especially I’m caught by the light forming a path across the stones from the coffin into the light – or possibly the other way round. These images might well have been in black and white, but in the end I like the hint of colour in what are both naturally almost monochromatic pictures.

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