Friday, January 14, 2011

Sepia, Sutcliffe and boats

click photo to enlarge
Every now and then I come over all Frank Meadow Sutcliffe. I blame this affliction on the book of his photographs that I was given on leaving a job many years ago. The most recent occasion when I was struck by the condition was as we walked by The Haven. This is the tidal section section of the River Witham below the Grand Sluice, that serves as both a mooring place and quay for pleasure boats and fishing vessels, and links with the dock of the Port of Boston. The usual varied selection of craft were tied up along the winding waterway, and as the river was low, a selection of ancient, rotting hulks, stained green and brown with weed and mud, were also visible. It was the latter that made me think of the great Whitby photographer, because the shape and style of some of them reminded me of the craft that fill the photographs he took of that town's harbour. Some of them may even have plied the coastal waters during his lifetime.

Among the well-kept yachts and utilitarian inshore fishing boats I saw a few of, what I call, "hobby boats". By that I mean craft that are past their best and have been bought by an enthusiast as a "project". Such vessels can often be identified by their paintwork (colourful), name (fanciful), lettering (amateurish), the slabs of marine ply that replace original timber, and the clutter of tools and other bits and pieces that litter the deck. I first became acquainted with such craft when I lived in Lancashire. The River Wyre and Skippool Creek near Poulton le Fylde had a few dozen such boats. The biggest was called "Good Hope". My wife and I called it "No Hope" because the speed of renovation never kept pace with the speed of decay.

The little group of craft in today's photograph look like hobby boats. Interestingly most of them are not Boston registrations, but are from nearby King's Lynn. Their styles and arrangement brought Sutcliffe to mind and I took my photograph. Later, back at the computer, I compared a sepia treatment with both colour and black and white versions and decided I preferred it. Sepia tone is often used in photography today to suggest the past, but I think it has merit of itself. The warm cast that it gives to an image is different from the colder tones of black and white and lends a different feel to a photograph.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 84mm
F No: 10
Shutter Speed: 1/80
ISO: 1000
Exposure Compensation: -0.67 EV
Image Stabilisation: On