Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Looking for beauty

click photo to enlarge
Visitors to photography forums will have heard people bemoaning the fact that the area in which they live isn't photogenic, and that they have to travel miles to get good images. It's hard to have sympathy with this view, or the mindset of someone who wants to take photographs of conventionally beautiful places, but is unwilling to recognise, or look for, the different kind of beauty that will undoubtedly exist where they live.

When I lived in Lancashire I regularly walked along both banks of the River Wyre where it widens into an estuary that flows into the Irish Sea at Fleetwood. It's a flat location that, on one side, has the debris of 150 years spread along its banks - the rotting hulks of wooden ships, old sea walls and their newer replacements, industrial sites that have closed, the wrecked remains of a once thriving fishing industry, newer chemical manufacturing plants and a municipal dump. The other side is more rural, with saltmarsh, pastures, cereal fields, a golf course and nature reserve. As I walked the area I found plenty of subjects at which I could point my camera. Many weren't beautiful in the usual sense, but did offer a harder sort of attractiveness, as well as undoubted fascination. In this sometimes bleak area I usually got my best landscape shots when there was an interesting sky. A photography lesson that it took me a while to learn is that just as a sunset can make any subject look wonderful, a sky with cloud and light can add drama, beauty and contrast to the most unpromising scene, even an expanse of cold, flat winter water and a factory with a tall chimney.

This contre jour shot looking upstream from Knott End uses the factory on the left as balance for the sun on the right. The distant blocks of flats and Blackpool Tower add a few more details to the flat horizon.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 62mm (124mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/1000
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -2.0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On