Tuesday, April 20, 2010

River Thames sculler

click photo to enlarge
I am fortunate to be able to stay in London in a flat on the Thames, and over the years this experience has opened my eyes to the life of the river. Birds, in the form of cormorants, gulls, terns, ducks, crows and pigeons are reasonably plentiful. My son has been fortunate enough to see a seal and a whale, but I haven't. The other day we found crabs on the narrow beach that is revealed when the tide goes out, and the water these days holds many fish, though they are only visible to the angler.

Then there are the ships and boats that are constantly to-ing and fro-ing. Just as there is a hierarchy of wildlife, so too is there with the craft. At the very top are the warships and cruise liners that can venture as far as Tower Bridge. Next, I imagine, are the tall sailing ships and large, expensive cruisers. Then there are the Thames Clippers, high-powered, fast catamarans, that offer a "bus service" between jetties along the river. Occasionally the refuse barges and original Thames sailing barges pass. Most frequent are the trippers' boats, brimming with people during the day, listening to commentaries about the sights to be seen. It's always fun to wave to them and receive waves in return. Many of these boats are transformed at night and pulsate to a disco beat as revellers party afloat. Further down the scale are the police launches, sailing boats, small launches and powered inflatables. Right at the bottom of the hierarchy are the canoeists who travel in groups, hugging the edge of the river, wary of the wakes from the bigger, faster boats. And, only one step above them, are the scullers, often members of clubs, each craft holding a single person, two, four and occasionally more. They are faster than the canoes, stay farther out into the river, and are sometimes accompanied by the sound of a cox with a megaphone.

The absence of aircraft noise on Saturday morning allowed me to hear the approach of the scullers when I was indoors with a balcony door ajar. Without the omnipresent sound of jet engines the splash of the oars or the quiet chat of the crews was enough to alert me to their presence. I took a few shots of these rowing enthusiasts, including this lone man going upstream on the tide - and consequently using his oars rather less than he otherwise might - a small, sharp shape on the expanse of dark water.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 12.8mm (60mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f2.8
Shutter Speed: 1/320
ISO: 80
Exposure Compensation: -0.66 EV
Image Stabilisation: On