Sunday, 3 February 2013

Here comes the sun

For once the sun shone all day yesterday, even though I sneaked out earlier than usual to ensure I had some of its rays to work with for a little while! On Friday I'd paid a flying visit to the sand dunes before rain forced me home and thought a return in brighter light might be worthwhile and make for a change of scene and subject matter. As things turned out the light was too bright. The shadows harsh from the still low winter sun. There must be a light that is soft enough, yet bright enough, to provide separation between the sandhills to prevent them merging into a uniform smudge. I have managed it in the past.

Having planned on stopping out most of the day I took myself into town to purchase a replacement lens cap and some masking tape. I didn't stick around though as I thought a visit to the pier area was in order. The sun had certainly brought people out en masse. Despite the chill northerly wind there were families and dog walkers on the beach and strolling along the pier. Admittedly they were all well wrapped up in fleeces and windcheaters. The people, not the dogs!

I began in my usual fashion of looking for formal arrangements of 'stuff'.

It was surprising how much more colourful the sea front was with a clear blue sky and bright sunshine.  This changed the way I looked for pictures. I began to look for light, shadow and colour. I also broke a habit of a lifetime and stopped waiting for people to move out of shot when I was photographing a view and waited for them to move into the frame. The images seemed more compelling with people in them. I started to consciously include people in wider views as well as closer scenes, even trying out shots where a too-close person made an out of focus part of the composition. This didn't pay off well enough, but was a worthwhile exercise for future reference.

The sunlight certainly made the compressed view on the right work better than a uniform light would have. The shadows give a sense of texture and form that enhances the feeling of depth to the angled planes and lines. It's a view I must have seen many times but never felt compelled to make into a picture. There's something about the colour harmonies that I like too.

As my bones aren't as young as they used to be I headed to the prom for a rest. Before sitting down and watching people go by I saw the carousel having a spin. The bright sun worked against me. I was trying to get a slow shutter speed to blur the motion while being fast enough to allow me to keep the stationary centre in focus. The ambient light was just a bit too bright and I had to fiddle around to get a decent exposure.

This kind of subject is where digital really beats film. The only way to get a few good images is to take lots, and lots. Your control over what is in the frame is somewhat limited, so making many exposures gives you a fighting chance. Had the light been in my favour I'd have made many more than I did, but I know when I'm fighting a losing battle. As it was I had to do some localised exposure adjustments on the PC to make the shot below what it is.

I found a seat with my back to a pillar which stopped me casting a shadow in front of me and had a rest, while waiting for something to happen or someone to pass by. It's the kind of thing you could spend all day doing.

Recuperated I headed back to the beach hoping the tide might come in close again but it was not to be. The beach was all but deserted and the day was drawing to a close. I took a last wander out onto the sand beneath the pier and made a photograph of the Millenium Bridge. The bridge is a staple of many local photographers repertoire. I've made a few shots of it myself. However, I have noticed that it has also cropped up unintentionally in quite a few of my photographs. Somewhere I have a photograph taken getting on for ten miles away in which the damned thing makes an appearance! With it standing out so well against the blue sky I made a point of framing it deliberately into a number of pictures throughout the day. Sometimes as an obvious feature, others not.

These and a few more pictures here.

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