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The Uffington White Horse by Jonathan Webb

1 February 2018

Jonathan Webb is a specialist aerial photographer working in Great Britain and Germany. He has published a dozen books on aerial photography and is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society.

The Uffington White Horse photographs is one of my all time favourites. It was taken way back in 2008 which seems a lifetime ago with all the changes in the industry since then.
 
Back then it was still possible to hire a light aircraft for photography and on this particular day I had made all the arrangements to do some industrial photography around Didcot Power Station.
 
The weather was not promising, being patchy cloud, but the main thing was it was safe to fly so we took off, not expecting to be doing any fine art photography but simply record some construction work.
 
We did the job and the return flight took us within sight of the White Horse. As we approached it luck began to move in our favour as a hole in the clouds was opening up over White Horse Hill.
 
'Quick, go over there', I said to my pilot. 'Slow to 90 Knots, Left a bit, right a bit, now 60 degrees of bank', and we were position very nearly directly over the Horse and in the absolute perfect position for the image.
 
With aerial photography the pilot cannot see the target properly and pilot and photographer must work together to get the aircraft in the right position. The photographer must work out the correct orbit which will be wide of the target behind it but then almost on top on the front side of the image. Allowance must be made for wind otherwise you will blow of course.
 
Holding the huge 300mm lens as steady as possible in the 90 knot slipstream and a gentle squeeze of the shutter brought a perfect sequence. We went round for a second orbit but our allocation of luck had run out and cloud moved over the site. Not all luck had run out though because it was only when I arrived home and saw the image on my computer screen that I noticed two people stood next to the horse in the perfect place to show the gigantic scale of the Geoglyph.
 
The white Horse itself is a fascinating figure. Its believed to have been constructed some time during the first millennium BC either in the Bronze or Iron Age, probably the former. When built it must have been a truly magnificent figure, cut up to a meter deep in the chalk. The exact purpose is unknown but it’s likely to be a tribal symbol connected with the adjacent hill fort.
 
This image was photographed using a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, 1/1000 sec , f5.6 , 300mm.
 

See more work by Jonathan Webb

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