A world turned upside-down… In these lapidary images, alumnus and tutor Dr Jonathan Kirkpatrick captures Oxford transformed into a waterworld.

Winter rains present an opportunity rather than an impediment to photography, says Jonathan Kirkpatrick (Balliol, 1996), who took these photographs the afternoon after a downpour and provided the notes that accompany them here.

Dr Kirkpatrick read Literae Humaniores and now teaches Classics and the History of Art at Wycliffe Hall to visiting students from American colleges and universities. Interested in photography since his teens, he delights in photographing Oxford in all lights and conditions, as well as his students in diverse situations.

‘I enjoy taking photographs of reflections in puddles and ponds during the winter. At a dark time of year, reflection helps flood the image with light. Water in its many forms is a ubiquitous element during the winter, and often an inconvenient one at that. However, it gives the cityscape a glistening sheen that enlivens what may otherwise seem dull surroundings, and I try to exploit this quality with my camera.’

Reflected glories

Taken from under the Bridge of Sighs, the above picture of Christopher Wren’s Sheldonian Theatre is the reverse of a far more popular view. New College Lane is not in perfect condition at this point, and the photograph exploits the propensity for puddles to collect in gaps in the tarmac. Some of the few remaining New College Lane cobbles provide a smooth and rounded counterpoint to the sharp and ordered Classical architecture of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Oxford beyond.

Reflected glories

The Cherwell, above, reflects the almost leafless branches of one of the aged willows that mark the course of the footpath along Mesopotamia. Taken near Parson’s Pleasure, the famous male-only bathing spot favoured by University members until it was finally closed towards the end of the twentieth century. For cyclists, this footpath has lately been superseded by the Marston Cycle Path, indicated in the shot by the lamppost.

Reflected glories

Radcliffe Square, above, is no doubt the most photographed spot in Oxford. The rotunda of James Gibbs’ Radcliffe Camera contrasts with the rectangular and pointed accents of the surrounding Gothic and Classical constructions, and is neatly echoed by the wheels of the bicycles clustered around Brasenose College.

All images © Jonathan Kirkpatrick, reproduced with kind permission.