Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Scrap metal

click photo to enlarge
Two years ago I posted a blog article about how I set out on a foggy morning to take photographs of electricity pylons and wind turbines sticking up through the low-lying murk. The final paragraph reflected on how the only decent shot of the day was of a dew-laden spider's web on the gates of my driveway. My "hook" in the article was the Rolling Stones' song, "You Can't Always Get What You Want". That particular post came to mind the other day when I reviewed the photographic output of five hours on board a boat.

The craft in question took my me and my wife, with a couple of friends, and some other people, from the centre of Boston, Lincolnshire, down the River Witham, into The Wash, up the River Welland, and then retraced its journey back to our starting point. I imagined the day's photographic subjects would include a few images of Boston from the river, fishing boats on the Witham and The Wash, some birds, a few landscapes, and maybe some seals. Well, I got all those shots, and a few more. However, the weather was very windy, largely overcast (it rained towards the end of our voyage), and the light was very flat. Consequently I was satisfied with very little that I produced during the trip. The best of the bunch is this shot taken shortly after we set off, passing the Port of Boston, a relatively small undertaking that specialises in timber, grain and sundry other goods, including it seems, scrap metal.

As we cruised along against an incoming tide the sight of a great mound of shredded metal came into view. I've seen such things at other ports around the country, often with a boat alongside taking the precious commodity on board. A mechanical grab was making this mound higher. As our boat slipped by I noticed the yellow container hoist beyond, and thought I'd try for a shot with it framed by the arm of the grab. The whole composition worked out better than I  imagined. Not only did I get the framing I wanted, the grab was also in the act of flinging its load onto the pile, introducing a slightly odd touch. Added to those elements is the red crane (giving me all three primary colours) together with a weak burst of sunlight. I ended up with something I'd have found hard to achieve standing still to take the shot, never mind passing by at six knots.

This particular image looked like it might work in black and white - the absence of colour, I thought, would focus attention more on the shapes and the composition of the photograph. So I did a conversion. I'm still undecided whether or not I prefer it to the original colour shot.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 42mm (84mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/1250
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On