Sunday, 5 February 2017

Situation normal

The beach project continues to occupy my thoughts. Most photographers who operate outdoors get frustrated by the weather. That was my problem on Saturday. It was too sunny. It seems to me that the more interesting thing occur down by the seaside when the sun isn't shinning. When the clouds part on a weekend everyone and at least three dogs hits the sands. But they don't get up to anything out of the ordinary!

Friday had seen me on a cold and windy, but largely deserted, beach. While it was nice and dull mornings are proving more fruitful, but I could only nip out after lunch. So I tried to photograph the sea. With the right gear (a tripod and  a longer lens) I'm sure that a series coul be made of pictures of the gas rig in all the weather's moods.

Whenever I get bored I start messing around. For most people a muddy looking sea and a uniformly grey-blue sky probably wouldn't appeal as a picture of the sea, but I've always liked the colour combination. Throw in some tonal variation and a splash of white and I find it a pleasing combination.

The wind had dropped somewhat on Saturday and that blasted sun was shinning bright. As we've moved into February so the sun has moved higher in the sky. Once more I arrived after lunch. This time to a busy beach.

There was a chap flying a kite, one of the subjects on my list. Getting a meaningful action shot of a kite flyer is difficult. Thinking about it later I reckon using a longer lens from further away to compress the distance between flyer and kite might be the answer. Getting the wind and sun to align is always going to be a problem. So a bit annoying that it was just right yesterday.

It turned out that the kite flyer was one of around 500 bikers holding a weekend rally at Pontins. I discovered this after his kite attacked one of his friends, two more of which helped relaunch it after the untangling process.

Heading back I stopped off for a mosey around the pier area. Every day is a schoolday, they say. Recently I've noticed people riding bikes with fat tyres on the beach. Googling 'sand bike' (which seemed like a possible name for the things) I discovered that they are sometimes known as 'fat bikes'. I wonder if I should get one? It would make getting out to the water's edge quicker when the tide is out!

I have an idea in mind for a portrait of a bike rider. The difficulty is getting one to stop for a chat. They're either too far away when I spot them, and/or heading in the wrong direction. Always on the move no matter what.

I rarely let a chance to show the pier as it really is slip by. The tourist office never show this side (literally this side) of the pier in their publicity material. It won't be long before the marsh reaches the pier itself.

Sunday saw me up and out bright and early, by my standards. The beach looked almost deserted at first glance, but it wasn't. I've seen boat trailers parked up in the past but never been around when boats have been launched or retrieved. It was a pleasant surprise to see there was a chap readying his boat for launching. Unfortunately the tide was on its way out and had been for some time. However I had a chat with him, learning a bit about the process along the way.

When his two friends arrived with another boat I almost made a hash of the portraits. The first frame was pin sharp, but I had caught one of them mid blink. The second frame missed the blink but for some reason was soft. The third frame, which I took vertically as an afterthought, was better. It must be a lot easier taking portrait type pictures with some pre-planning. Doing things my way I never know what I'm going to be photographing, and so never have much idea how I'd like to arrange things. Lesson, thing ahead...

With everything ready, off they went into the distance. And another unaccountably not-quite-sharp picture.

There was a 10K run on during the morning, meaning the coast road would be closed. I drove in that direction and parked up thinking there might be something to look at. It turned out that there was bugger all. No runners, and because the roads were shut nobody much about on the beach.  I went home and did some work, had lunch and thought I'd chance my arm back at the launch site.

Although it wasn't as sunny as Saturday there were lots of folk about. Four horseboxes were parked up and the horse being put back in them Another opportunity missed by bad timing. I wandered out towards the water and spotted a women with two little kids watching the sea demolish a sandcastle they'd built. So engrossed in this, and the taking of phone camera pictures, that they hadn't realised the were on a sand bar that was being surrounded by the incoming tide. After I shouted out to them they paddled back through water deeper than their wellies. A few more minutes and it would have been deeper still. I've been glad of my chestwaders in the past when I've been photographing windsurfers. Some of the gullies are surprisingly deep.

With there being little wind I heard the boat approaching before I spotted it flying across the water. I might have missed out on getting launching pictures but I managed a few or the retrieval. Only one boat had come back. The other had engine trouble and had been forced to land down the coast. His trailer would be taken to meet him.

I'd almost decided to go home about an hour earlier, but watching the sun and the clouds I thought there might be a sunset worth wasting a few million pixels on. Standing on the tops of a dune it was intriguing to see the sky changing. The Welsh mountains and Cumbrian fells appearing and disappearing as the light and clouds changed. Looking south to the Mersey and out to the Welsh coast there's an uncounatble number of wind turbines. The closest ones standing proud of the horizon, the blades of those in the far distance cutting it. The seascape is changing.

One technical lesson learned over the last few days has been that when it comes to photographs which include the horizon my favourite multi-purpose lens is not so useful. It distorts the horizon a great deal. While this can be corrected on the computer it's a faff. using a 'better' lens pretty much eliminates this niggle. In future I'll be sticking with the less troublesome lens on the beach, I think. Although when the horizon isn't a major element in the picture it doesn't seem to matter if it curves a bit. Not to me at any rate. It's just that out very often it can be.

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