Winter in search of Narnia

Starting the project – familiarisation and planning got underway in January and February. Would winter bring snow and transform a bleak landscape?

“I can’t believe I was up early on New Year’s Day, but I was up for first light and excited to start this project. It was cold, though not especially so for January in England, but it was a very dull, uninspiring day. Today wasn’t about taking pictures though; it was the day to recce-ing the whole estate. I needed to start getting a feel for where the deer move within this landscape and whether there’s a pattern to these movements, especially in the early morning when the winter light is soft and often misty.” 

My photography started the following day on the 2nd January with the unexpected. Each year the house and part of the gardens are illuminated for Christmas and New Year. Normally this is open to the general public but last winter was anything but normal in the face of a global pandemic. Just after sunset I started to shoot, looking for the last light of the day behind the house during the blue hour. The sky was still mostly cloudy but there was a clear strip near the horizon – enough to act as a backdrop for the house, while the still air gave almost perfect mirror-image reflections in the moat. There’s something magical about illuminations and reflections. I have to say I wasn’t expecting this start to the project but it yielded some rather enchantingly different views of Helmingham Hall in its setting.

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By Chris Coe

Chris is a professional photographer, and the founder of Travel Photographer of the Year. He has been working as a professional photographer since 1992, shooting both editorial and advertising photography, and has published over 50 books. He lectures on and teaches photography, mentors and is a competition judge.