Sometimes an image has the power to transport us to another place. Much like a favourite piece of music or a particular scent, these collections of tiny multi-coloured pixels morphing and coalescing into patterns and shapes on our screens have a unique ability to reach out and pull us into another dimension. On some days we may find ourselves back where the image was taken, re-living the moment again as the synapses in our memory centres spit and fire into life and on other occasions a particular image may act as a trigger for our minds to cartwheel through time and space.
And it’s the same with this picture for me. A return to that evening on the North West coast as the sun slowly dipped below the horizon, spilling its iridescent light on the water for a few brief moments in a final dazzling salute to the day. I can still close my eyes and transport myself back there. The cool air of the spring evening. The gentle lap of the tide. The whirling of the gulls overhead, playing out their intricate dance.
And that’s where it should end really- another set of beautiful memories to file away, ready to be unlocked at some point in the future. Perfect, don’t you think? Except that this image broke my ankle two weeks later.
Let me explain. Have you ever been on a shoot where your focus is so intense that everything else greys out in the periphery? And then for some reason you look up and realize that while you’ve been squinting at some nondescript bit of rock for 20 minutes trying to conjure up a half decent image, someone has snuck up behind you and emptied the entire contents of the colour wheel on the sky. And when you do finally notice, you only have a few minutes to grab whatever shot you can before nightfall extends its dark fingers over the scene. And in those moments, when you’re frantically scrabbling over rocks to find the composition you want, your inbuilt alarms are paused. You become careless. Recognize that feeling? Of course you do. You’re photographers. And it was just like this for me-I saw the boat silhouetted by the setting sun and framed by the marker buoys and I wanted this shot. I really wanted it.
But had I taken just a little more time to consider my surroundings, I would have realized that the pungent odour surrounding me as I finally crouched sweating behind my tripod wasn’t from the leaking pipe discarding its murky water in a sinuous trickle over the beach but was instead from the soft and slightly discoloured sand I was standing in. Sand that appeared to have passed through the digestive system of a large dog first. The sort of dog for which one of those small blue plastic bags which inevitably get hung on a tree branch in your local park after use would be wholly inadequate.
Now, I confess that I have a well-developed aversion to anything that has already passed through a mammal and this may explain why I felt it necessary to condemn my incredibly sturdy but now somewhat soiled walking boots to a sealed bag in the boot of my car. And this is where they remained for the next two weeks, gently fermenting. And the longer I left them, the more reluctant I was to investigate further. To be honest, I’d rather have put my hands in the kitchen blender.
Now, have you ever tried to buy anything in a hurry on Easter Sunday? For instance, new walking boots. Because you want to go on a photo trip and your old ones are gently turning into a pungent boil in the bag casserole? And if you have, do you know exactly how many sporting retail shops are open on this particular day of the year? Exactly. There’s limited choice.
Oh, the salesman was good, I’ll give him that. Ignore the brand name he said, which was spelled in a very similar way to a more well-known one. But with one letter different. And ignore the low price. And the fit. And the tread compound on the bottom which appeared to be very similar to a set of eastern European tyres I once bought for my first car. Tyres which were very good unless there was a corner. Or rain.
And there you have it. Salmon walking boots, a moment of inattention while mentally composing a shot on the edge of a steep incline and then an afternoon in A and E.
And so yes, this image does transport me to a certain place. Which is lucky really as it’s pretty much the only transport I’m capable of at the moment.
Tags: UNITED KINGDOM UK SUNSET SEASCAPE BOAT SHIP COLOUR WARM REFLECTIONS MAST BUOY ROA ISLAND CUMBRIA NORTH WEST CALM LONG EXPOSURE NIKON D810 ND GRADS PEACEFUL
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When you cried, I'd wipe away all of your tears
When you'd scream, I'd fight away all of your fears
And I held your hand through all of these years
But you still have all of me
My Immortal, Evanescence
There are certain songs that will always hold a strong emotional sway over us. It may be because they remind us of a person or an event. Or it may simply be because we find ourselves drawn to the music. We all know that feeling of hearing those songs at unexpected times- the sudden slowing down of the world as our minds are flooded with chemical messengers and our pleasure or sadness centres light up.
And it’s the same with photography- among the hundreds of locations we might visit each year, sooner or later we come up against something that stops us in our tracks. Maybe it’s a place with immense natural beauty. But maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s just one of those days where the light and the tides and the very spot we stand in all come together to transform the ordinary into something that really speaks to us.
This is Roa island- a tiny nondescript spit of land off the south Cumbrian coast. On that night, as the tide swirled around my feet and lifted my camera bag gently out to sea, it became my photographic immortal.
Tags: UK UNITED KINGDOM ROA ISLAND CUMBRIA LONG EXPOSURE NIGHT MOON REFLECTION SEASCAPE ROCK WATER LIFEBOAT STATION NORTH WEST COAST ETHEREAL CALM SMOOTH PIEL CHANNEL BLUE NIKON D810 LEE FILTERS
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Taken much further west than my previous series of Carrelet images, here we find ourselves at the widest point of the Gironde estuary as the sun dips below the horizon, the pale stars sliding effortlessly into their place while the heat of the day lazily soaks into the cold waters. That time when the ethereal cloak of dusk shrouds everything in its sinuous embrace as the ending of one day is met across the oceans by the beginning of another.
And it would have been perfect- the amber glow seeming to blanket the old fishing hut and barely a breath of wind to disturb the solitude. Perfect but for the other photographer, who had joined shortly after I arrived, offering a continual stream of advice in French while I composed each shot, his disapproving looks suggesting that he didn’t find my untimed and somewhat random exposure technique entirely satisfactory. And you know what? - I’m sure that he probably did get a far better image than me and I’m happy for him but I just wanted to enjoy the moment. In peace.
And as he picked up his gear at the end of the evening, I noticed that he’d rested his camera bag in something that I would have chosen to avoid. And for one moment, I confess that a tiny part of me was tempted not to tell him as he trudged off to his car. But of course, I did tell him- or rather I pointed- knowing the French noun I needed but being insufficiently skilled in linguistics to do anything other than shout out that solitary word would have seemed rude.
Have a good week, Flickrites.
Technical: camera gear. Very little skill. Poor grasp of modern languages.
Tags: FRANCE GIRONDE ESTUARY CARRELET FISHING HUT SUNSET NET LONG EXPOSURE REFLECTION STILTS CALM TRANQUIL SMOOTH ND GRADS NIKON WEST COAST ATLANTIC EUROPE EU ENTENTE CORDIAL
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Have you ever seen those stories where people slavishly follow their sat nav until their car plummets off a cliff, or their truck delivering whatever it is that trucks deliver becomes embedded under a bridge which quite frankly a small child could see was going to be slightly too low? By 15 feet. I'm sure we've all smiled and wondered exactly what must have been on someone's mind to get things so wrong.
But this is the curse of the modern era. The reliance on technology. The turning down of the dimmer switch on our brain. And you know what?- it happens photographically as well.
Most of you will know this place as Saltwick Bay, final resting place of the Admiral von Tromp, a small fishing vessel which ran aground under somewhat mysterious circumstances in 1976. Now, I'd wanted to photograph this place for some time but on my first visit, the light wasn't quite right. And by not quite right, I mean there wasn't any as I'd mistimed my journey and arrived after dark. But that's what photography is, right? An adventure. A learning curve. A 6 hour drive fuelled by Costa coffee and bad music for the privilege of sitting in a caravan park overlooking the bay, while a gang of feral kids from Birmingham try to set fire to a bin at the entrance. What could possibly be more fun?
So, on my second attempt some weeks later I picked up my long suffering cousin who lives locally and arrived in a timely fashion armed with sunrise angles, water temperatures, the prevailing direction of the jet stream and all manner of things that might be useful. And the shoot went well- the light was fabulous, the rusting ironwork of the trawler silhouetted against the rising sun as the dawn broke. It was heart stoppingly beautiful. But I did learn some things that day.
1). There is no 3G signal by the wreck. This wasn't too much of a surprise.
2). Sometimes there is a mismatch between what your eyes (and your cousin) tell you and what your preferred piece of technology is indicating. Generally speaking, the outgoing waves should be doing just that. And not making your feet increasingly wet.
3). Telling someone that they're talking b******s while thrusting your phone at them despite the increasingly obvious physical evidence to the contrary is unwise. And will invariably lead to a lively discussion in the pub. Every time you see them. Forever.
4). If you're in the habit of screenshotting the tide table on said phone in anticipation of the first point, it really helps to ensure that you then look at the one from the correct day and not two weeks before. This will save a lot of embarrassment. And wetness.
5). The water off the north east coast of England is.....fresh.
6). The kids were successful. And judging by the scorched patch of earth where the bin was, spectacularly so.
7). There is no beach anywhere in the world where expensive shoes make any sense. Sorry, Gary- don't think of the white crusty marks as "ruined"- think more of "patina of adventure"
And there you have it. Over reliance on technology and under reliance on brain.
Did they have sat nav in 1976?
Technical: more gadgets than sense.
Tags: UK UNITED KINGDOM SALTWICK BAY ADMIRAL VON TRMP WRECK BOAT SUNRISE SEA COAST COLOUR WARM REFLECTIONS SHIPWRECK SHALE ROCK BLACK NAB NORTH EAST RUINED SHOES
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I’m in love. There, I’ve said it.
But not for me the siren call of a flaxen haired maiden - my attention has instead been drawn by the rusting metal and decaying posts of our industrial past. And what better place to find all manner of objects to satisfy my artistic craving than the north east coast of England. I mean, just think – where else can you find places such as Chemical Beach, or even the fantastically named Blast Beach? This is Boy’s Own stuff. And then there’s Steetley, site of the old magnesium works and to my eyes, one of the most beautifully stark piers on our coastline. And you know what makes it even better? I’ll bet it was built by people who ate coal for breakfast. People so tough that if they died in the morning, they would be dug up in the afternoon to finish their shift. And I’m pretty sure that none of them ever stopped at 11 for a dry cappuccino and a reapplication of moisturizer. Or to discuss their feelings. And this spirit still lives on today in the guise of the local fisherman who regularly scale the makeshift steps which are apparent on the left, before falling to their death through the rotting timbers.
But you know something else? Amidst the decay, there is a real beauty here. A sense that this structure was always meant to be. A sense that the men and women who built this place are somehow alive in the stanchions and crossmembers and faded boards.
And so, here’s to our industrial past. On a morning where the rising sun lit up the underside of this old pier and for a brief moment everything was once more alive.
Technical: Camera gear and wellies. Lip balm. Moisturizer. Cappuccino.
Tags: UK UNITED KINGDOM PIER SUNRISE DAWN STEETLEY COAST NORTH EAST SAND WET REFLECTIONS COLOUR WARM NEW SEA SEASCAPE HARTLEPOOL NIKON D810 LEE HITECH FILTERS
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