Thursday, December 07, 2006

The allure of the sea

click photo to enlarge
Water is seductive! And that allure is what causes many people to drown. In recent days England's west coast has experienced strong, onshore winds, combined with daytime high tides. These have driven the sea higher up the shore than is usual, to the very edge of the paths that people usually walk in safety.

Crashing waves and sparkling, blown spray, illuminated by winter sun is a magnificent sight, and the palpable power of the turbulent water is exhilarating. It causes some people to stand too close and to be plucked into the water by the unexpected wave that is bigger than its companions. Once it has a person in its grasp a stormy sea is reluctant to give them up. Every year the sea claims victims along the Fylde Coast. Sometimes they are holiday makers who are simply reckless in rough weather, but frequently they are young men whose judgement has been clouded by alcohol. When one of them goes into the water a second often follows in a brave but foolhardy attempt at rescue. Invariably the sea claims two victims on those days.

My photograph shows the high tide running up to the top of a slipway near the promenade at Fleetwood, Lancashire. This area is usually well above the water, but on this particular morning it was a slippery, treacherous place. A strong wind had blown a vegetable bag away from someone who was collecting pebbles, and it became stuck on the handrail. My eye seems to light upon a patch of strong colour against a subdued background, to the point where it has become a "signature" image (see here, here and here). I couldn't resist this one, and composed a shot with the rail as a strong leading diagonal, the red bag as the foreground subject, and the sea the more distant interest. I used a long zoom lens at 114mm (35mm equivalent) with the camera set to Aperture Priority (f6.3 at 1/320 sec). The ISO was 100, and -0.3 EV was set. As I always do, I shot in RAW and converted the file to JPG.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen