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Funchal harbour 100 years on

Armistice Day

Some thoughts from this day

The 11th of November is an occasion of remembrance in many nations, when we mark the sacrifice of life in conflict. It should also be a time of consideration, of the effects of these world events on others. Photographers are no exception.

I am part way through a book on two photography expeditions mounted to an African island and Brazil in 1919. They had to be in location on a specific day, to capture images of a solar eclipse and provide definitive proof of Einstein's Relativity theories.

In the immediate aftermath of conflict transport across land, rivers and oceans was an uncertain affair. The two expeditions left the UK on the same ship and parted company on the island of Madeira. Herein lies the connection - I read the first part of this book last week on the same island. So just over 100 years on I was able to look at the same dock and imagine their progress.

They accomplished their objectives, but only just. The Africa observations were made by a group from Cambridge University, led by Arthur Eddington. It is all the more shocking by the fact that he was the single scientist present - all his colleagues had perished in the preceding conflict. A piece of photographic history made real for me on this day.