The Mundon Oaks

The remains of the ancient oak forest at Mundon, Essex.

The remains of the ancient oak forest at Mundon, Essex.

Scanned print from a 120 6x6cm Hasselblad negative on Tri-X film rated at 320 ISO. Processed in PMK 1+2+100 for 12 minutes at 22°C after a 3 minute plain water pre-soak. Agitation 30 seconds on immersion followed by one tank inversion every 15 seconds.

The print was made on old Ilfobrom Multigrade IV Fibre paper, Grade 4.5 using a diffuser enlarger. Processed for 3.5 minutes in Dektol 1+9 at 20°C. Untoned print.

The rectangular enclosure of the Mundon oaks adjacent to the little church of Mundon St Mary.The ancient remains of this oak forest on the coastal plains of Mundon village in Essex is a rather unique place. I visited it on a beautiful sunny day in February 2011 and had the place entirely to myself for some hours.
Although often described as a ‘petrified’ forest, the trees are in fact not fossilised, simply dead. Killed, it is said, by salt water seeping into the ground from a channel cut adjacent to the land to enable boat access from the estuary to the nearby house and farm.

Bleached by the sun and the sea air, the skeletons of the trees shine brightly in the clear sunlight and cast harsh shadows in such conditions. The virtues of the PMK development process resulted in highlight detail being retained, along with detail in all but the deepest shadows, for the extreme brightness range of this scene, roughly 8 or 9 stops. I tried to retain this brilliance and luminosity in the print, although it’s lost in reproduction here.
This image can be printed in many different ways, producing very different results, and I will experiment further.

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