Sea of Steps (2021)
Frederick H. Evans (1853-1943) retired from selling books to become a full-time photographer in 1898, adopting the platinotype process. Landscapes, portraits but above all the cathedrals of England and France were his main subjects. In 1903, he finally, after several attempts, produced his famous 'Sea of Steps' in Wells Cathedral. In 1915, when war requisitions made Platinum restrictively expensive he gave up photography for good.
I first visited Wells as a child, though little memory of that visit remains. In 1990, I visited again, this time with my wife and two daughters. A few negatives survive from that visit, taken both by me and my younger daughter. I remember trying to emulate Evans' masterpiece - and failing. In October 2021, my wife and I returned again to Wells. Again, I tried, from memory, to follow in Evans' footsteps - perhaps this time with more success?
Frederick H Evans wrote in 1903:
"The steps now rise steeply before one, and the extraordinary wear in the top portions leading to the corridor, is now shown just as it appeals to the eye in the original subject, a veritable sea of steps. The passing over them of hundreds of footsteps during the many years the stair has served its purpose have worn them into a semblance of broken waves, low-beating on a placid shore. The beautiful curve of the steps on the right as they rise to the height of the Chapter House floor, is for all the world like the surge of a great wave that will presently break and subside into smaller ones."
Photography: 1990 - Olympus OM40, Regula Sprint, Ilford FP4, Fuji Color Negative Film 2021 - Olympus OMD EM1 MkII, 12-40mm f2.8 Pro lens. Images processed with ON1PhotoRAW 2021, Affinity Photo 1.10.4 Printed on Marrutt Smooth Fine Art Production and Archival Matt Double Sided paper using an Epson 3880.