Sunday, November 26, 2006

A sign of winter

click photo to enlarge
In my mind the seasons of the year are broadly laid out as follows: Spring (March, April, May), Summer (June, July, August), Autumn (September, October, November), Winter (December, January, February). But of course the seasonal changes never quite happen this neatly. Spring often doesn't seem to get going until nearer April, and winter frequently arrives in November!

So, it's handy to have a visual marker to show when one season turns into another. The removal of the seats on the big wheel on the Central Pier at Blackpool, Lancashire, is just such an indicator. The "summer" season at this seaside resort is extended through autumn to the beginning of November by the renowned seven miles of lighting displays known as "The Illuminations". After about the 5th November leisure-based businesses and shops begin to close down until the following spring. And in my mind, when the big wheel is stripped so that it can better handle the storms that roar in off the Irish Sea, I know that winter has arrived. I can reliably inform you that winter began a couple of days ago!

I took this photograph on a changeable Saturday morning. The intermittent sun had brought a few walkers to the sea front, and the beach cleaning machine had recently finished its work, leaving swirling tracks across the sand that were already being erased by the incoming tide. A couple of men were standing, looking down at the sand, striking poses that reminded me of the enigmatic, meticulously set shots of a Michaelangelo Antonioni film. The combination of all these elements suggested a photograph, and I used a long zoom at 80mm (35mm equivalent), with the aperture set at f5.6. At ISO 200 with EV at 0.3 this gave 1/1600 sec exposure, which was a bit generous, even given the strong wind. But it produced an against-the-light shot that both pleases me, and reminds me that winter is now here.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen