As its title suggests, Traci Law’s gorgeous new book of photography, Enchanted Britain: A Photographic Journey, takes readers on a magical tour of the land that brought us such wonders as The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. I recently had a chance to chat with Traci about the book and the magical (yet real!) landmarks that she captures in its pages.
What drew you to Britain for this project?
I have always been drawn to the myths and beauty of Britain. At the risk of sounding cliché, there’s just something very magical about it with all the castle ruins scattered about, the ancient and medieval buildings and the scenery. Over the years I’ve built up a vast collection of images from Scotland, England and Wales and wanted a way to share them with people beyond art shows.
In producing the prints for this book, you used a process called HDR or High Dynamic Range imaging, which gives each photograph the appearance of a painting or a dreamscape. What was behind this decision, and what was involved in the process?
HDR is a process that some photographers love and some photographers loathe. It’s definitely a different look from what we’re used to seeing in photographs. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. For Enchanted Britain there were many images that this process simply did not work well. However, I decided to use all HDR images to continue with the idea of the magic and enchantment of Britain. Personally, I love the look it gives. For some images, like Kilchurn Castle in Scotland, it gives a softer feel whereas for other images, such as the Chapter House stairs in Wells Cathedral, it gives an eerie, mysterious look.
On average it can take twenty minutes to nearly an hour per image to get the look just right. I use three different programs to achieve the perfect look for the subject and image. Of course, it is important to have a good original image to start with. HDR can change a look but it can’t perform miracles.
In your “other lives,” you’ve worked on archaeological digs and have been the host of Morbid Curiosity TV, a web series exploring the relationship between history and paranormal phenomena. How did your other interests influence your work on Enchanted Britain?
It was through archaeology that I was accepted to work on a project at the Wiltshire Heritage Museum in England and it was there that I was able to explore more of the true England and appreciate their history on my own. I’ve always been interested in history and the medieval period so everything managed to fall into place nicely. A few years later I went back and drove around the United Kingdom without really having a plan other than to photograph anything and everything. Some of the places I visited I had heard of from my days in the paranormal field, such as Rosslyn Chapel, but it was their history that drew me to visit.
I suppose, ultimately, it was my deep appreciation of history and respect of people and places that really influenced the images I chose for the book as well as influences how I see things when photographing in general.
Thanks, Traci, for an enchanting conversation!