The Lee Valley Regional Park runs from Ware in Hertfordshire to the Bow Creek Ecology Park, where the River Lee flows into the Thames, a distance of 28 miles, and is referred to as the ‘green lung of London’. Tottenham Marshes are just south of the North Circular Road, between Enfield and Hackney, and consist of an area of 42.25 hectares that contain large areas of semi-natural grassland, with some plantation scrub and rivers with both relatively natural and concrete sided banks.
The pictures from Tottenham Marshes were taken along the Lee Navigation, which is a canal that passes through the area. Crack Willows and Poplar trees grow along the west bank which on bright still mornings form stunning reflections onto the flat water’s surface creating a perfectly formed upside down world. The reflected images are often shattered by the activity of water birds, a passing canal boat or canoe, or a fish under the surface of the water. I often walk along the east bank of the Lee Navigation on clear still mornings, with the sun behind me, admiring the images that invert the scene on the other side of the canal. It is strange how this world of light that looks so solid can so easily be distorted by a passing Moorhen or Coot and transformed into an animated abstract pattern. The images created from this disturbance are often so much more interesting than the still undisturbed reflection and was something I was keen to explore photographically.
Photographing the undisturbed image reflected on the water is a simple matter of focussing onto the image, although it is not a real image, but what is called a virtual image. It is the same as looking into a mirror when logic will tell you that the image of you, which is a virtual image, is formed at the surface of the mirror. If you were to stand three feet in front of the mirror, and set the focal distance on a camera manually to three feet, and then take a photograph of yourself reflected in the mirror, the resulting picture would be out of focus. If you were to set the camera to auto-focus and take another photograph it would be sharp. Then look at the distance set automatically on the focus ring and it would be six feet. If you were to then stick that sharp photograph onto the mirror surface and take another photograph using auto-focus, the resulting picture would be sharp but the distance on the focus ring will have been set at three feet – the distance from you to the surface of the mirror. This is because the photograph is a not a reflective surface and therefore is a real image. We see a perfect image of ourselves on the mirror because rays of light that hit a flat reflective surface rebound off at the same angle as they hit it without distortion of the image, apart from the fact that it is reversed from left to right. Traditionally a popular fairground attraction is the hall of funny mirrors in which we see an image of ourselves that is distorted creating a comical image. This is because the mirrors are not flat but rather curved in various ways.