Photographing the transit of Venus

I love working with artists – every project is just so much fun and this was no exception. As part of an In Certain Places commission by artist David Henckel, I was commissioned to document his project on the Transit of Venus, consisting of two stages over two days.

First was to document a beer tasting event in a field in the village of Much Hoole in Lancashire, where invitees were asked to taste and provide feedback on a beer the artist had brewed to mark the occasion of Venus’s transit around the sun.

Second was to document the setting up and live running of an event in the local church, where Jeremiah Horrocks first charted the transit. After all the preparation, the live stream from NASA started around midnight and continued through the night.  Photographically, this was quite challenging as old church interiors are very dark, using flash is not an option, so a good position was essential, along with a good fast lens.

It was a surreal experience as musicians started playing a composition written for the occasion on clarinet and oboe, whilst smoke filled the church and the huge image of the sun appeared on the screen behind them with the small dot of Venus as it transited. It was an experience I shall always remember.

Transit of Venus beer - David Henckel
Transit of Venus beer – David Henckel
Transit of Venus live performance
Transit of Venus live performance