With its many centuries-old buildings, Oxford has always provided the opportunity for a bit of time travel, if you use enough imagination. But with the emptying out of the streets, as people follow guidelines to leave their homes as little as possible, the resulting eerie quiet makes it even easier to picture yourself enjoying the same view that someone hundreds of years ago might have witnessed. As Douglas Fry of Piranha Photography puts it:
“The architecture now can be photographed during this time of Covid-19 without obstruction or distraction and the central area must look like in some part how it did back in 1167 when the University was founded, less the double yellow lines of course!”
Douglas, an Oxford resident, has been a professional photographer for over 20 years, capturing images for businesses of all sizes. But as soon as the lockdown was announced, his client order book went from nearly full to completely empty, as people cancelled all social contact.
So from the first day of the lockdown, Douglas took to the streets, challenging himself to find new and interesting ways of representing these strange times that have made popular, familiar places seem abandoned.
Particularly striking are the shots of places that would normally be heaving with visitors, particularly in the summer months - such as Radcliffe Square and Hinksey Outdoor Pool - the images make the ‘eerie silence’ Douglas experienced tangible. In some, the presence of a single figure or animal emphasises the sense of isolation even further.
Douglas said “I can’t remember a day when I haven’t taken photos, and as old habits die hard, on the first day of the lockdown I started to take photographs of Oxford city centre and the surrounding countryside and canal paths during my lockdown walks”.
This walking project has been entirely carried out with the use of a Leica M10 rangefinder camera, with a 35mm Summilux lens - you can see the full gallery at https://www.piranhaphotography.com/blog/oxford-photographer-lockdown/