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Cottam Power Station

Posted by
Ian Bramham (Manchester, United Kingdom) on 8 October 2010 in Business & Industry and Portfolio.

This is Cottam coal fired power station in Nottinghamshire on a cold day with huge clouds of water vapour being emitted from the concrete cooling towers.

It's an archive photo from 2008 that I've reprocessed from scratch because I wasn't happy with the original version. I feel strongly that photography should represent not just what you saw but also what you felt yet it's so difficult to give you my impression of what it is like to stand in front of one of these awe inspiring places and I'm still not sure about this particular photo so this version might simply be 'work in progress' for now.

These huge power stations dominate the landscape in this part of NE England. They were built there because that is where the coal is to be found deep underground in the mines - the tall plumes of cloud that pour out of the towers stand like white pillars reaching upward into the sky.....monuments to a dying way of life?


An Open Invitation:

On Tuesday 12 October I'll be giving a talk to North Cheshire Photographic Society about my photos: NCPS Syllabus

For the first hour I'll be showing lots of my own photos using a digital projector and discussing the work of photographers like our own Hugo Poon, and John Leech who first showed me that photography could be an art form, as well as the work of iconic photographers like Michael Kenna

In the final 30 minutes of the talk I'm going to be discussing basic tips on photographic composition.

I realise that most of you live a long way away but anyone who would like to come will be made very welcome!

NIKON D40 1/400 second F/11.0 ISO 200 105 mm (35mm equiv.)

Like what you see here and are interested in photographic composition?.....the blog section of my website now has a complete set of 5 articles covering my personal approach to the subject: Ian Bramham Photography - Blog

For purchasing high quality archival prints of any of these photos you can send me an email by clicking here or by going to my website Ian Bramham - Fine Art Photography where prices are listed in the gallery sections under each individual photo.

Valérie Simonnet from paris, France

What a strange and frightening place but a wonderful composition.

8 Oct 2010 5:37am

@Valérie Simonnet: Thanks Valérie!

Marie LC from Dauphiné, France

A difficult subject on which I would want to say " it makes me cough " only to look. But it is the reality regrettably!

8 Oct 2010 5:45am

@Marie LC: Hi Marie. I thought you may be interested in these photos by the famous English landscape photographer Michael Kenna:

Mike from Lichfield, United Kingdom

Indeed monuments to a dying way of life. I was researching the other day all the power stations that lined the River Trent. There were loads but most of them have gone now. Rugeley used to have eight cooling towers but four of them were knocked down to make way for a gas powered plant. With future plans to build nuclear power stations all round the country and increasing environmental pressures, not to mention cost, the days of vast cooling towers are numbered and will be following in the footsteps of our mining industry.

8 Oct 2010 6:02am

@Mike: Have you photographed Ratcliffe yet Mike - that's not too far from you is it?

Claus Petersen from Herfølge, Denmark

This is one of those image where you just have to go wow!

8 Oct 2010 6:37am

@Claus Petersen: Thanks Claus!

Mirko Herzner from Germany

Well Ian... Your 'work in progress' images are better than what most of us produce on an outstanding day. The same holds true for this particular shot. Amazing in its simplicity and powerful message...

8 Oct 2010 6:50am

Shahryar from Isfahan, Iran

great capture :)

8 Oct 2010 6:52am

Richard from Duns, United Kingdom

Powerful, disturbing yet beautiful

8 Oct 2010 7:01am

adebond from Liverpool, United Kingdom

Wow Ian, you say that this is a work in progress but it looks like a work of art to me. Those huge concrete cooling towers are dwarfed by the billowing columns of steam & really give a dramatic sense of scale to the image.

Really interesting that you chose to use a square crop too but I think it definitely works.

8 Oct 2010 7:07am

Mike from Lichfield, United Kingdom

Ian, Ratcliffe is probably about 40 miles or so away from me. I plan to give it a go this winter. I'll wait for the really cold weather to hit first though.

8 Oct 2010 9:01am

larry from somewhere in, Singapore

Oh no, what are we doing to Earth?

8 Oct 2010 9:20am

Frida from Sweden

Wow I like your images from the power plants they are somewhat surreal I think. Like from a movie, I have never seen anything like it for real.

8 Oct 2010 9:21am

Iknow from Chengdu, China

The outcome of the great industrial revolution:) love photos of this type,really well seen and captured!! and thanks a lot for the background info,cheers!

8 Oct 2010 12:01pm

KriKridesign from Cully, Switzerland

a Terminator picture for sure...

8 Oct 2010 12:26pm

Ian Smith from London, United Kingdom

Powerful photo & subject. Looks great!

8 Oct 2010 12:52pm

Betsy Barron from Philadelphia, PA, United States

WOW - powerful!

8 Oct 2010 12:55pm

digitalCG from Manchester, United Kingdom

I'd take issue with Nottinghamshire = NE England, but the image is ace. I see cooling towers as modern cathedrals of industry and it'll be a shame when they're gone.

8 Oct 2010 7:57pm

@digitalCG: Cottam is right next to Gainsborough - only just south of a line drawn between Sheffield and Grimsby.....not exactly the Midlands is it :-)

The cloud plumes from Cottam and West Burton power stations are visiible from those of Drax, Eggborough and Ferrybridge - a dramatic sight and for me they seem to enclose their own area of the country regardless of county boundaries.

Chris from Seattle, United States

Really dynamic and powerful image. Can't imagine what you would find fault with on this!

8 Oct 2010 9:55pm

Punit from Somewhere in, India

This square crop looks superb. The water vapor clouds bring out a powerful look.

9 Oct 2010 6:08am

Ted from South Wales, United Kingdom

"Ian has shown he has the skill that all great photographers have - the ability to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary."
Practical Photography, October 2010.

Enough said!

9 Oct 2010 9:00pm

Theys from Charleroi, Belgium

Great photo!

9 Oct 2010 9:38pm

hugo poon from hong kong, Hong Kong

Such a sight of impact... it's only further heightened by the fabulous tonality and impeccable framing! Remarkable work Ian!!!

10 Oct 2010 4:28am

DarkElf from Perth, Australia

whoa! that is one spectacular sight! i like your composition and tight cropping here - with the stacks and think smoke filling the frame one get the sense of power an energy out of this photo!

10 Oct 2010 7:43am

tom from Germany

This is a very powerful image.

10 Oct 2010 8:51am

John Leech from Grange-over-Sands, United Kingdom

This photo highlights an important issue that must be addressed. I'd say this is East, not Northeast, nor Middle. Northeast starts at Redcar. Nice pic :~)

10 Oct 2010 11:26am

Vaido from Võrumaa, Estonia

Excellent framing for this powerful scene!

10 Oct 2010 1:33pm

missparis from PARIS, France

Impressionnant toutes ces fumées, et la pollution dans tout ça !

11 Oct 2010 7:42am

Babzy from Besançon, France

A great image , strange , fascinating and frightening ....

11 Oct 2010 7:47am

Marie LC from Dauphiné, France

I know well Michael Kenna's photos which I admire so a lot and it is the great tribute which you return him, even if I cough! Lol!

11 Oct 2010 9:37am

Céline from Paris, France

Excellent, love it !

11 Oct 2010 12:14pm

Ana Lúcia from Leiria, Portugal

Much pollution!

11 Oct 2010 5:06pm

Céline from New York City, United States

Wonderful b&w !

14 Oct 2010 4:40am

k@ from Paris, France

Gosh this is so impressive and well composed...

15 Oct 2010 11:08am

Magda from Vancouver, Canada


23 Oct 2010 6:44am

Jeremie from Brooklyn, New York, United States

... and I still love your "chimneys shots" more than ever... It also has a documentary value, on how much we waste and spoil this world! A 5 ***** shot

8 Nov 2010 10:56pm

Piero from LYON, France

Very impressive !
I love this shot !

15 Nov 2010 5:39pm

Sakis from Kozani, Greece

Such a great photo!

12 Mar 2011 9:52am

Emanuel Högberg from Borås, Sweden

amazing photo!

7 Jan 2013 10:16pm

1/400 second
ISO 200
105 mm (35mm equiv.)