Living under the Heathrow flightpath can be a noisy and infuriating thing. However when the Coronavirus pandemic first hit the UK and we went into, what turned out to be the first, national lockdown, the change was huge.
At the time the proposed third runway had been blocked by the court of appeal as it didn’t meet the UK government’s climate targets, but an appeal to the Supreme Court by a Heathrow consortium was soon to be launched.
Inspired by my first ever college photographic project, where I was encouraged to look up and photograph what I saw, I decided to photograph the quiet skies above me as part of a project to document the effect on my local area but one that had a worldwide significance in terms of the reduction in air pollution levels caused by a global reduction in all forms of travel including air traffic.
It hadn’t been unusual to see the sky filled with vapour trails from aeroplanes overhead, but during the lockdown there were very few planes flying at all, so I photographed clouds, birds, insects, night skies and when I heard the occasional aeroplane I would grab the camera and see what I could create. One of my shots was taken of Heathrow airport from the top of St Ann’s Hill in Chertsey, (where I was able to walk to as part of my permitted daily exercise) showed a helicopter apparently hovering above the airport with many aeroplanes grounded and on stand at the terminal building.
All my initial photography college projects were shot on black and white film which I had to process and print myself in the college darkrooms. Although I no longer have a darkroom at home I did decide to make monochrome images of this project from my digital cameras and post processing the files in Capture One software to do the conversion to black and white. This resulted in some very graphic imagery.
Initially I mainly kept a telephoto lens on my camera but soon realised that the vast empty space, often occupied by just a small aircraft, occasional vapour trails (that hung around for long periods of time) and some clouds looked more like a statement of how empty the skies were.
The photographs in this gallery are some of the results of several weeks looking up.