The Distance Project

The Distance Project 19

Social Distancing Project 160Three girls out for a walk. Permissable now if you live in different households.


Social Distancing Project 161Two cyclists. Also permissible if you don’t share a home.

Now What?

Right at the beginning of this project, the lockdown was very strict. It seems a world away now, but we were allowed to go out once a day for exercise, but only with people we lived with. Everyone else? Two metres away, please; at least.

I photographed one pair out on their permitted daily walk then who from what they said did not share the same house, and they made sure to be a good two metres apart when I took their photo.

When they approached me they were chatting together and were maybe not quite as far apart as they should have been. It was really a slight bending of the rules. It’s been common all along, I’m afraid.

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The Distance Project 18

Social Distancing Project 154In the church hall at Little Horwood, the sub-postmaster from Deanshanger provides a post office service for a few hours, one day a week. The table helps to ensure customers stay back, and provides a place for them to use the card reader while still keeping their distance.

Carrying on With the New Normal

Here’s a few Distance Project photos from a month or two ago that I haven’t shown you before. The first two are from Little Horwood, and the others are from Winslow. I’ve shown you photos from both places before, but these were all taken on a later date.

As the lockdown rules change, behaviour has changed. As I wrote this, I heard on the radio that the government are considering stricter lockdown rules. They say they want to prevent a second wave.

Just when I thought I would soon be running out of things to photograph for this project, it looks like there will be more to come. I didn’t think the pandemic would last this long, and I’d rather photograph something else now. But I have to carry on.

My other photos from the Distance Project can all be found here. The project is to photograph what people are doing differently under lockdown.

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The Distance Project 17

Social Distancing Project 145There’s a moment between the end of the first part of the ceremony and the procession down to the lake, where nothing seems to happen. They are just getting organised, but with only 18 lanterns instead of 200, they’ll soon be on their way.

Lights on the Water.

The Hiroshima Day ceremony at the Peace Pagoda, by Willen Lake in Milton Keynes was officially cancelled this year. I expected a small invite only ceremony of a similar scale to the Pagoda Ceremony, back in June; there had been just six there.

But I was wrong.

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The Distance Project 16

Social Distancing Project 137I followed some of the temple folk up to the pagoda. In any other year I would have expected at least a hundred people. Officially, there were just ten.


The Day the Bomb Dropped

The 6th of August is a day burned into memory. On that day in 1945, the first atomic bomb used in war was dropped on Hiroshima in Japan.

That’s why on the 6th of August every year there’s a ceremony at the Peace Pagoda in Milton Keynes, to commemorate the victims of that day. Volunteers at the Buddhist temple call it the Lantern Ceremony.

After prayers and chanting, peace lanterns are carried down to the lake and floated out across the water as the sun sets behind the pagoda. The light in each lantern is meant to, aided by prayer, guide the souls of victims in the right direction, in order to ease their suffering.

Buddhism is a most compassionate religion.

Six weeks earlier, I’d gone, for the Distance Project, to see what would happen on the day of the long planned 40th Peace Pagoda Ceremony. I was surprised and pleased to find a very small, invite only ceremony, although the event had been officially cancelled because of the lockdown. It was all they could do.

I expected a similar scene when I went to the Lantern Ceremony and that’s what I found, but a few more people had turned up to the pagoda on the off-chance, too. Still, there were nowhere near as many there as usual. All around were other groups and small gatherings doing their own thing; exercising or picnicing in the public park.

This week I’m just showing you the first part of the ceremony, up at the Peace Pagoda. I’ll show you the second part of the ceremony down at the lake, next week.

All the posts from the Distance Project can be found here. The project is to photograph what people are doing differently under lockdown.


Social Distancing Project 138Setting up was still going on. Chairs were well spread out. I think that’s a tai chi group in the background.

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How to Start a Photo Project

Social Distancing Project 02From The Distance Project 1. Note how the dog walker takes a wide berth from my subject. There's two metres between the main subject, and the left hand side of the frame. This could have been taken with almost any camera, but I used the K3 and 16-50mm zoom lens.

What to Do?

It’s been over three and a half months since I started The Distance Project, and it's going well. If you want to start on your own photo project, you need just two things: a camera, and a clear idea of what you want to do. Perhaps you want to document a year in the life of your garden, or of your grandparents.

Any camera at all can be used. What sort of camera it is might make a difference to what you can photograph, but the vast majority of pictures in this project could have been taken on almost anything.

So first I’ll talk about the idea.

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