We'll get to the photography part of this blogpost in a moment, firstly a little explanation as to why I was beside the sea; Yesterday I had reason to visit Dorchester and whilst there I thought I'd take a little trip down memory lane. Around 7 miles from Dorchester lays the seaside resort of Weymouth and many years ago (around the time God was a boy) I worked there in a factory as an apprentice engineer. I left school at 15 and more or less left home at 16. I loved being with my parents back in Devon, but I needed a job, needs must and all that. So, it was arranged that I would stay with my older sister in Yeovil (around 30 miles from Weymouth) at the weekends and from Monday to Friday I'd live in lodgings at Weymouth. I hated both the lodgings and the job in equal measure. My landlady, and I kid you not, went by the unbelievable name of Mrs Squib, yes, seriously; eat your heart out Charles Dickens! Three of us shared a room, three beds and a sink in the corner. Amongst many other restrictions we were forbidden to use the/her bath, so you can imagine by the time I arrived back to my sister on a Friday night she could smell me coming from five miles away. The local Weymouth girls seemed to have a sharper sense of smell than I gave them credit for too, they totally shunned us whenever we ventured to the local disco, can't say I blame them! Anyway, I didn't last very long as an engineer. This job was held during the winter months, on a Monday morning I would get up at 6:15 AM and ride my moped to Weymouth ready to "Clock-In" at 7:55AM. We had to start work at precisely 8:00, a minute late and they would dock half an hours pay. When money is tight the suffering comes in all kinds of guises, for me the pain of not being able to afford a pair of motorcycle gloves was unbearable. Keep in mind that I was travelling on a small motorcycle during a winters morning, before sunrise and usually through ice, sleet and rain. My hands would sting like crazy, turn various shades of pink, purple and eventually blue, the good news was that by the time l got there all feeling to them was completely lost....happy days! The gloves and heated grips I have now would have been heaven, I also had the luxury of a shower before leaving home! Yesterday the extra 1200cc's helped, although with more traffic I only managed about the same speed. What always did lift my heart was the ride along the seafront, the promenade, before hitting the misery of a weeks work, yesterday was no different, there's something about the seaside. I thought a re-visit was in order and in my blogpost "Make or Take" I was thinking about photographic layering so we'll give that a go. Before that here's a few shots grabbed as I strolled along the Prom just to give you a feel for the place -
You can see a, let's say, "elderly" clientele inhabit Weymouth on a weekday. There isn't much going on, nor to see. There's a grand clock which was built to commemorate one of Queen Victoria's jubilees and a statue of King George III erected in 1810 to celebrate 50 years of reign and apparently the fact that he was a frequent visitor to Weymouth; who knew? So I bought an ice-cream and gave some thought to the aforementioned layering. I mentioned in a previous blog about the genius of Sam Abell, in particular his shot of "Branding and Castration" at a ranch in Montana. Take a look on his website and you'll see for yourself. I'm not going to attempt to replicate his expertise in Layering, but I'm going to try and improve my efforts with it in the coming years. Here's a definition I found on the web - "This technique involves using foreground, subject and background so that all layers of the images work together to help tell a comprehensive story". Good grief I'm a long way off that. For now there's one simple way I can think of that is at least a beginning, shooting through something or someone. Okay, not just someone in the foreground walking past with some other people in the background that really won't cut it and piecing that puzzle together can wait for another day. I decided to shoot through something, but it had to tell a story. Man it's difficult, we're back to the waiting game. Firstly I thought of having deckchairs in my foreground -
Then decided that those little pavilions with benches (I suspect there's a proper name for them) where people sit waiting for it to start raining, which by the way it inevitably will. Here's attempt one -
Nope. It's not telling anything. How about attempt number two? -
Same old story, no story. I'm not saying it's a particularly bad photo, I've made a lot worse. Attempt number three next which is the marker image for this blogpost -
This is much better, well aesthetically speaking at least. We have someone in each frame and it certainly tells us which generation the visitors belong in. Finally, attempt number four which I think has a stab at telling a story of the British Seaside, a couple seated on the prom, a slightly dilapidated rusty look, the sea itself of course, some deckchairs, a guy carrying some ice creams and those ubiquitous, thieving, nasty seagulls. Unfortunatley the sun came out which kind of ruined the British Seaside theme because as we all know the sun rarely shines at the seaside -
As the old music hall song goes -
"Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside!
I do like to be beside the sea!
I do like to stroll along the Prom, Prom, Prom!
Where the brass bands play, "Tiddely-om-pom-pom!"
There weren't any brass bands I hasten to add! I may prefer attempt number three purely on composition terms. Also in the first two I was closer and that needs considering with the composition. Time wasn't on my side, I was there for around an hour and a couple of hours is my ideal amount of time at a location. In any case it's a work in progress and I intend concentrating a little more on Layering and story telling in the future.
As usual I would be delighted to read any comments and my sincere thanks go to anyone taking the time to read my blog.
If I was to present any of these shots I would take attempt number three, convert to Black & White and crop it -
All images can be opened by clicking on the thumbnails and are taken using a Leica M with a Summicron 35mm lens fitted.