I met my friend for a beer in Bristol the other night, if I discount myself then he's my worst critic. Sometimes he'll grudgingly admit that "you take a half decent photo I suppose", that could be the beer talking of course. Very rarely he takes a look at this blog and so over a pint he announced that "there aren't enough facts about these so called interesting places you visit". So, just for him, here are some facts about Bournemouth; There are 7 miles of beaches, they enjoy an average of 7.7 hours of sunshine per day and I once spent 7 nights on holiday there! Despite appearances, I'm thinking here of the elderly clientele, there is in fact an extremely vibrant nightlife, hence my holiday there with around 20 friends in 1979. I'll add a few more facts during this post and that's a fact in itself.
This blog seems to be turning into some kind of British seaside resort guide, but where there are people you can make photographs and apart from enjoying a ride out on my motorcycle that's essentially what I'm trying to do. Capture some Life or Street Photography, but also document the destinations and my photographic journey.
Bournemouth is around 60 miles from me, it takes 1 hour and 40 minutes by motorbike so you can judge by that the roads aren't too great. My route took me through Salisbury, "Nyet comrade", I put my visor down, kept the bike rolling so as not to touch the road with my foot at stops and thus avoided any chemical residue left by our Russian friends! On with some photographs, another gentle reminder that there is usually a mix of shots in this blog, some are purely to give you a rough idea of the place, others are because I like them photographically, mostly I'm just clicking what I see. Park the bike up and our first view is from the cliff, we see one of the "two" piers (a quick fact there!) -
I didn't bother going on there, firstly I know that this isn't the best pier and secondly they charge to go on to it. There's a zip wire ride that travels from that tower at the end of the pier to the beach front, not surprisingly I didn't bother with that either. Once you arrive at the entrance to the pier there's a plaza, a few shops and food outlets. I've noticed that a lot of seaside resorts and tourist destinations in general now include one of those Observation Wheels, like the London Eye only on a much smaller scale. I suspect they cost quite a considerable amount of money to install and yet you never see anyone actually riding them. The answer to this is that they're really boring, I took the children on the London Eye at huge financial outlay, they were restless and wanted to get off within 2 minutes, man that thing is slow going around, 28 further minutes of continual "Can we get off yet?"!
Anyway, there were a few people hanging around (not on the wheel) and so I clicked away -
I strolled around and certain things unavoidably catch your eye. This guy sat in front of a building for example, causing me to think that the billing might just be a misnomer and not live up to it's name.
A couple more from this scene
...and the inevitable people eating Fish & Chips shot -
I know there are plenty of Beach Huts at Bournemouth, the first ever Beach Hut in the UK was erected here in 1909. I thought I'd attempt to capture those vibrant colours and so wandered along the promenade. By the way, the promenade is perfect for bicycles and there's a lot of them (even on a quiet day), it's flat and very, very long, most people ride to Boscombe and beyond then back again. We'll visit Boscombe in a moment. I chatted for a while to a Bournemouth Beach official, "Where have those primary bright colours gone on the beach huts?" I asked. "Ah, yes, well Dulux re-painted them for us using the colours in their paint chart" he replied. Seems to me that the whole world has gone slightly beige -
In all fairness, it looks fine and if a paint company offers a free service like this only a fool would refuse it. You may have noticed with my opening shot at the top of this post that there are a few originals still standing.
A final shot before we move on from the beach huts, after all there's only so many photos of sweaty cyclists riding past them I can take -
I strolled back towards the pier/plaza. You can see from these shots that the beach was fairly quiet, which is to be expected on a weekday with the children at school. This place is rammed at weekends and during school holidays, not forgetting the residents of Bournemouth who also use the beach and there's close to 200,000 of them. Hey, that was a fact, here's another one before some beach photos, the Novelists JRR Tolkien, Enid Blyton and Mary Shelley were also residents; Hobbits, Noddy and Frankenstein, evidently Bournemouth induces some imaginative writing.... in some, escaped me though it has to be said! A lot of people just snoozing, I have no idea how they do that on a beach or in front of their beach huts, always far too much going on for me to sleep.
I decided not to walk along the promenade to Boscombe, it's only one and a half miles, but that's a three mile round trip in bike gear and it was warm. I began to walk up the hill to the car park and saw these two messing about taking photos with their iPhones -
I knew where I thought they should have been, way back against those three blocks, next to the stairs you can see in the second shot. They walked up the hill to the car park where I was headed and so I told them my thoughts. "You've got a camera, you take a photo then" was their reply, they weren't prepared to go back down the hill to the ideal place so I had to take it more or less where we stood. I had one click and they wanted to look at the LCD screen and declared it "not bright enough", I tried to explain that it was just a RAW image...I may have wasted my breath. Actually they were very nice people, I liked their style, their vibrancy and could see that they were two individuals enjoying life. Here's the shot -
Perhaps they have a point, though the highlights are getting towards blown on his top, so I think the exposure in this case is correct. Of course as all photographers know, exposure is subjective. Now, a quick apology, there are another few shots to go through, I know it's quite a long blogpost, but we're off to Boscombe. I got on the bike and rode along the cliff eventually parking up on the seafront. Boscombe Pier was built in 1889, after it's renovation in 2009 it was declared "Britains Coolest Pier", I don't know who actually awarded that title, "Piers Monthly" or something no doubt.
I tried various perspectives, angles and of course some "layers" which we've discussed before and I have to say that the layering isn't going well. I seem only capable of shots through things and really I want much more than that. There was a little bit earlier on; the guy sat down, the pushchair and bicycle going past him. Also the Hats shot and to some extent the people under the bridge. I'm trying to get there, but it's going to take some time.
All photos that are in grids can be opened up by the way. You'll see in that third shot some very brightly coloured Beach Huts behind them in the distance; typical and too late, my interest in them had waned somewhat to be honest. A couple of shots then from different angles once I was on the pier itself -
In the end I went for a traditional and somewhat formulaic photograph, which describes my photography fairly accurately. Very fortunately there was a guy stood there otherwise I wouldn't have clicked, a meaningless photo without someone in the frame. Unfortunately he looked down and dejected. Do you ever want to put your arm around them and say "look, it'll all work out, come and have a beer"? Of course we mostly don't, perhaps we should.
It's not bad, maybe a little boring. I walked onto the beach and under the pier to see if anything was going on. How about an experimental shot, I found a rock which looked a little like "Durdle Door" which is just a few miles up Dorset's Jurassic Coast -
Is that any good? I'm not sure.
It was, as already mentioned, very quiet down on the beach. I stood for a moment under the pier wondering to myself how to make a shot here even slightly interesting. Along came a lifeguard and literally "saved" me and the image. Okay, it just someone walking along; the thing about Life/Street Photography is that for much of the time it's just that and sometimes much worse, inevitably 99.9% of shutter releases are failures. Could be technical, might be aesthetics, composition, poor light (the Form) or for the more experienced of us it's mostly lack of interesting Content. Once we as photographers appreciate that simple fact then we can relax, just enjoy what we're doing -
That wraps up another post on this blog, which incidentally needs renaming to "Britain's Coastal Resorts Facts & Photos Blog", not a very snappy title I admit, but there you are! I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Bournemouth and as I said in a previous blogpost, they're all Halcyon Days from now on, no grumbling, just enjoy it and make whatever photos you can.
All images can be opened by clicking on the thumbnails and are taken using a Leica M with a Summicron 35mm lens fitted.