So yesterday morning I headed further down the North Yorkshire coast to Scarborough to shoot a few pictures. Arriving at North Bay after an hour’s drive from Saltburn I was early enough to catch the high Spring tides as they caused a few waves to crash over the seawall and railings. They weren’t massive waves by any stretch which always look so dramatic but the light was great and it made for some nice shapes as the water crashed against the wall.
I find it’s quite addictive shooting something like this as there’s always that feeling of ‘…if I leave now then the next one might be even better‘ so I spent a while shooting a few as I tried to get close enough to get some drama without getting drenched and spending the rest of the day soaking wet and at the same time trying to avoid being knocked over by the cars driving along the road! But needs must and I was able to get a few half-decent pictures that I was reasonably pleased with.
From there I parked up in a usual spot I go to at the end of Marine Drive and close to the harbour where I went for a wander about. I like this approach to doing my own pictures and I try to do a similar thing wherever I go to. Now I know from being there a number of times before that like many places, there are good pictures from certain areas more than others but if I can I try and shoot something different or if I see something that attracts my interest then I just shoot pictures anyway.
After I had wandered about for a while shooting a few around the harbour area, the fishing boats and some ‘street’ type stuff I headed along to the Scarborough Spa. This is a great old building with a rich history and which currently acts as a venue for shows, conferences and performances as well as being one of the most iconic symbols of the town.
Today they were hosting the ‘Scarborough Sci-fi Festival’. An event that brought together those folks that are into all things sci-fi to enjoy and take part in a host of guest talks, lectures, merchandise stands, entertainment, screenings and generally dive into a weekend of sci-fi shenanigans. There were quite a few people dressed up as various characters from all different genres of science fiction so I hung around for a bit and shot a few pictures of some of them as they were outside the spa or down on the beach.
After that I filed a few pictures in and as it was getting on a bit I headed off back in the general direction of my car thinking I might get a few more pictures as I went. But as it was a cracking day on our great Yorkshire coast the visitors had descended in their hundreds and the place was heaving so after weaving in and out between the masses for a while and not really getting much in the way of pictures that were working and after a seagull decided to carry out an aerial bombardment on the back of my jacket letting me know what it had had for breakfast – always happy to share are seagulls! #flyingrats – I figured I would call it a day and head off.
Behind the Scenes:
There are some pictures from Scarborough below but before that is a ‘kit shot’ of what I use on some of the jobs or photo-trips I might undertake so by way of a techy stuff interlude I thought I’d go over a few things about what I use. So read on if this stuff interests you or if doesn’t then jump down to the pics 😉
My approach to my photos is generally very ‘loose’ and without a specific brief and I tend to work quickly. Methodically but quickly and kind of let things happen or, if I have to pose up a picture for a portrait (and I might only do it for portraits – everything else is just as it happens) then I don’t go mad with it usually.
I don’t use tripods (unless it’s the middle of the night or something obviously) and I like to travel light and work with a small amount of kit. When I can I use prime lenses. Always have done in the main. But obviously some of the jobs I cover need to have the benefits of using zoom lenses either due to the space, mobility, flexibility or the requirement to get a range of shots from one event. Obviously this is far easier with zooms but for my own stuff or indeed those jobs I do where I know, or think, I will have some freedom then I shoot on prime lenses and that’s what I did yesterday.
All the shots below were taken on a 35mm f2 Summicron lens on my Leica M9 digital camera. I had also initially thought to use the day to shoot some film. I learned photography shooting film. All the technical ‘stuff’ that you need to know I taught myself when I first got into taking pictures twenty odd years ago and understanding film and learning to develop it was of course a big part of that. But yesterday I kind of got into a groove from the off with my digital camera and didn’t end up shooting much film at all unfortunately. But that’s ok – there’s always the next time.
Below is a picture of what I carried yesterday. It kind of looks like a lot all laid out but it isn’t really that heavy and it all fits into the small Barbour shoulder bag I was carrying so it doesn’t end up being too much of a pain to carry around all day especially when one of the cameras was always out anyway.
So to briefly go over the stuff (from left to right and top to bottom) we have:
My BPPA Press card (British Press Photographers’ Association). Barbour bag. Chamois leather/lens cloth. Air blower for getting rid of dust from sensors or whatever. MiFi to get on ‘tinternet when using the IPad air 2 – I usually use a 15″ mac book to edit, caption and file pictures to a news desks when I’m out and about but sometimes when I’m shooting my own stuff I’ll just carry this as it’s lighter and reasonably capable of doing an edit. I can still ingest pictures, edit, caption and file through that with a couple of programmes but I’m still trying to streamline and tweak that workflow process to make it faster and more efficient. USB and SD card adapters to connect and ingest pictures to the IPad. Notebook & pens. Apple blue tooth wireless keyboard – connected to the iPad I find it easier to type captions on a normal keyboard rather than touch screen and these are great (and light). Ten rolls of black and white film (5 x Kodak 400ASA TriX and 5 x Ilford 400ASA XP2).
Leica M9 with manual focusing 35mm f2 Summicron lens. Couple of 3-stop ND filters (these essentially reduce light coming into the camera allowing me to use a higher aperture especially in bright sunshine as the M9 only has a 4000th of a second as the max shutter speed). Spare M9 batteries (although a couple of my Fuji spares are in there all the time). Leica M2 with manual focusing 50mm f2 Summicron lens – this is a great old camera. This one was produced in 1960 and is fully manual and doesn’t have a meter so needs no batteries. Spare SD memory cards.
Sekonic L-308s light meter – I use this in tricky lighting for getting a first exposure when using any of my cameras if time allows but especially with the M2. It came in handy yesterday with the bright white of the storm trooper uniforms in sunshine.
Using it to obtain an ‘Incident’ light reading which reads the light falling on your subject, instead of measuring the light reflected from it as the built in meter in a camera does. The difference is that in reflected mode, the meter can be fooled because a white subject (or a black subject) reflect light very differently. When using incident mode, how light or dark the subject is doesn’t matter because the meter is reading the light emanating from the sky or artificial light source before it gets to the subject. So as the light didn’t change much yesterday I took a reading at the start so that I was exposing accurately for the bright suits, remembered it and used it as the foundation for exposing the pictures, of the Storm Troopers at least, and then I just tweaked the exposure as needed as I went.
So that’s what I carried yesterday. Fairly simple and light enough to carry around. Shooting as I was on one lens yesterday – the 35 – it does restrict you at times and it takes more thought and discipline to shoot a prime lens and of course there are shots that you simply can’t achieve but that’s fine. In situations like this I’m happy with that. If it was a ‘normal’ job I’d have had three cameras on the go. The M9, but with the 50mm attached and 2 x Fuji XT1’s. One with a 16mm (24mm equivalent as it isn’t full frame) f 1.4 prime and the other with a 50-140 f2.8 (70-200mm equivalent) to give me more options.
But given the choice and the freedom to shoot how I want this lens is normally what I like to use…I can get close to what’s going on, I can include some of the environment in the picture to give it some context, the quality of the lens is amazing and it’s good to be more ‘manual’ – controlling the exposures myself, focusing the lens myself and thinking more about my pictures and putting them together.
Doing it like this as often as possible makes it, for me at least, more intuitive and helps me keep sharp on the basic foundations of photography – the light, the exposure, the composition and the subject – it keeps my eye in and makes me think about what’s important in a picture. All of which can sometimes be overlooked and even forgotten if you always rely on the camera to do everything. Even in fast moving more news orientated stories it has paid off and I’m as comfortable using this manual focusing ‘slow’ camera where I can’t take several shots a second as I am with using my other, more speedy’ cameras’.
So anyway…….. here’s a few from Scarborough:
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