The Thames River Valley Close-Up

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The Thames River valley is steeped in history and tradition. To me, it is the epitome of the English countryside. I’ve been lucky to visit many times and was looking for a fresh perspective this trip. I decided to try a close-up perspective, a zoomed-in look at the details that make up this landscape that I love. 

 

The Thames River Vally Close-Up

 

A series of close-ups is a great way to capture a place or a season or, even more specifically, a particular place in a particular season. It’s difficult to do without some prior experience.

 

5 favorites - The Thames River Vally Close-Up

 

I started playing with close-up snapshots on Cape Cod in summer. I had spent a good part of my childhood summers there and so I didn’t need much time to re-discover the essential textures of the place – the fake green grass of a miniature golf course, the red and white checked cloth at a clam shack, or the white crystals of beach sand. 

On this trip to Henley-on-Thames and Wallingford, I had a similar sensation. “Oooooh, these door knockers are just soooo England,” or “Aaaaaah, I miss the way the grey light plays on the water at the river’s edge.” Looking for and taking close-ups helps me capture and share this place and time – the Thames Valley on a short December visit. 

 

The Thames River Vally Close-Up

 

Any collection of close-ups is, in part, the product of a purposeful hunt for particular details that are special to me and, in part, the luck of the draw.  All travel pictures are to some degree a reflection of what we stumble onto or into. I never could have set out to find, for example, a single red rose on a brown and wilted bush, or a homemade mince pie with cream drizzled on the top. But my quest for close-ups made these finds all the more exciting and gave my long morning walk or my holiday shopping venture purpose. 

 

Pudding. YES. From The Thames River Vally Close-Up

 

I found myself making connections and developing themes as I walked or browsed. Below are my trios of food, teatime, winter vegetation, walls/windows, the river, the color red, man-made things, and more…

 

Vegetation. From The Thames River Vally Close-Up

 

Walls. From The Thames River Vally Close-Up

 

Food. From The Thames River Vally Close-Up

 

Windows and walls. From The Thames River Vally Close-Up
 

Mandmade. From The Thames River Vally Close-Up
 

Childhood. From The Thames River Vally Close-Up

 

Knockers. From The Thames River Vally Close-Up

 

Red. From The Thames River Vally Close-Up

 

River. From The Thames River Vally Close-Up

 

Tea. From The Thames River Vally Close-Up

 

Little vegetation. From The Thames River Vally Close-Up

 

River birds. From The Thames River Vally Close-Up

 

 

What do I have to say about these trios of insight and zoom? If I had to comment as an artist, I would add the following titles - with commentary where necessary: Winter Vegetation - some goes up, some goes down, some goes to the side, Walls and Fences, British Food - Yes, it can be delicious! That's steak and silton pie from a pub lunch, Architectural Details, Things that Seem Very Henley-on-Thames to Me, A Child's Perspective, Red Accents, Doorknockers - ok ok ok, that's really a mailbox on the right, The Thames, Tea Time, Little bits of Winter Vegetation - and how about that pillowy moss? I love it!, Water and Waterfowl.

Try this with your kids. What do they see that you don’t? What textures or images do they associate with the places your family has visited or spent time? How do these change with the seasons?

 

Also see Thailand Close-Up for more zoomed in fun.

 

 

 

E. Ashley Steel is the co-author of “Family on the Loose: The Art of Traveling with Kids,” co-curator of www.familyontheloose.com, and the Traveling with Kids editor for Wandering Educators.

 

 

All photos courtesy and copyright E. Ashley Steel

 

 

 

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