Monday, 2 January 2017


Back to the beach, somewhat earlier than I usually go, and there was a bit more going on today.

It's really basic, I suppose, but always being slow on the uptake it takes me ages (and many mistakes) to remember to pay attention to the whole frame. While it's fairly easy to take in the overall framing of a shot it can often be the little things which make it work. This seems especially so when photographing animals. And I include people in that category!

With four legged animals the trick is to get the legs in such a position that they suggest the kind of movement they are making. Expressing speed or otherwise. It's important to show all four legs, and if the creature has a tail that too, because doing so will tell the viewer what kind of animal it is they are looking at on a very intuitive level. We recognise things first by their shape. Even in the far distance we can usually tell if it's a cat or a dog, or in the case of people a man or a woman by their silhouette - and the way they move.

I think I got this back lit horse to look as if it is walking sedately because of the position of it's off-ground hooves. From a technical perspective it's a bit crap because of that back lighting (hence the black and white conversion), and I didn't have the shutter speed really high enough. But as it's not a photo I have much use for it was a useful exercise. I just hope I've learned the shutter speed lesson for future reference.

Out towards the incoming tide there was a well wrapped up figure expertly flying a stunt kite. I always wondered what kinds of stunts these kites did, and now I know some of them. Brian's control over the kite was very impressive.

The importance of gesture is clear in the next two pictures. While both are similarly framed the top one is static looking, the lower one, just because of the position of the hands, implies action as the kite is manipulated by the lines. The lesson I have to remember from this is to stop being so parsimonious with the number of frames I shoot. That's not to say I'll be switching to five frames a second in future, more that I'll be taking more than two or three frames of something like this. That should give me more chance of capturing the gesture that helps tell the story of what's taking place. However it can make selecting the best frame more difficult.

I've still not really got to grips with what I'm calling 'consensual' portraits where I ask people to 'pose' for me. Again it's a case of not paying attention to the whole frame. The bright sun wasn't ideal but, although the colours work quite well, I really should have allowed more space around the figure to imply the open space of the beach. In an ideal world the kite would have been in the frame too.

I wasn't the only person out with a camera today. There were two taking shots of the horse riders. Naturally I snapped them in action. I didn't get a response when I smiled and nodded at one of them. Canon shooters. Miserable gits!

Time was getting on and my stomach empty. I walked out along the shrimp track and as I was about to return one of the shrimping tractors appeared. It seems every time I get the chance to capture something that is evocative of this particular beach I have to shoot into the sun. At times it can work out okay, but mostly it seems to result in a mess. How I long for a bright but overcast day. All the elements are there; the encroaching clumps of grass, the wind farm, the flock of gulls, and the shrimper. The only thing wrong is the execution. At least I've left enough space to give a feel of the big sky. And without resorting to the landscaper's crutch of a wide angle lens. Again gesture plays a part. In the first picture it's the spray from the tractor's wheels, in the second the gulls being airborne. Little things. Must. Pay. More. Attention.

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