Norfolk shares much in common with the Netherlands; it’s flat, there’s a lot of water and there are quite a few old wind pumps (what most folks probably refer to as windmills) that were built to manage the water. The old wind pumps make a very atmospheric photographic subject which Francine is keen to try and exploit. Today being decidedly windy, too windy to make cycling an attractive proposition, we elected to drive around scouting out suitable subjects.
Finding a good subject is less easy than one might imagine. An OS map makes a good starting point ‘cos the wind pumps are marked. The first filtering process is one of access – can you get near enough, either by road or on foot? If you can get there by road, is there somewhere legal to park without causing an accident? The answer to either of these questions is disturbingly frequently, no.
The second filtering process involves condition; largely, are there sails attached? A sail-less wind pump does not make the most interesting picture. Unfortunately, they all look the same on an OS map, so we found ourselves approaching some of the wind pumps that made it through our first filter, only to find that they fell at the second hurdle because they had no sails.
Once you get through the above checks, you’re into checking situation, direction compared to the light, background and foreground, etc., to see if a good wind pump can make a good picture. Photographers are very difficult to please but we ended up thinking that Thurne wind pump might provide Francine’s best chance.
Since the wind pumps are beside waterways – they were positioned to pump water off the land and into a suitable water course – what you really need to gain good access to these things is a boat. We haven’t got one but there are thousands of pleasure boats plugging up and down the rivers linking the Norfolk Broads. Of course, that being the case, even once you’ve found a good wind pump to photograph, the likelihood is that some grockel will park an ugly fibreglass bath tub of a boat beside it and ruin your shot. One of the few traditional Norfolk wherries, such as the one below seen on the river Ant, would actually enhance the shot. A regular sailing boat would be perfectly acceptable. A fibreglass bath tub would be little short of a disaster.
We did check out Little Ormesby Broad as a location and rejected it. We did, however bump into quite a few Odos flitting about the vegetation surrounding the car park and lining the path towards the broad. Here’s a not-quite-fully-red Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) and a Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans), just to brighten things a little more.
OK, we think we’ve got a photographic target. Now what we need is for us to remain sober enough to get out on an evening when the westering sun puts in an appearance. We wait with bated breath.