Here in the UK, pink is associated with baby girls, female clothing, cosmetic products, mobile phone casings… but almost always with a feminine slant. Some guys will wear pink shirts, but normally with business suits to re-establish their masculinity.
Pink paint is generally an interior covering, and pink cars tend to either to be driven by specialist women only taxi firms or Katie Price.
I generalise of course, but my point is that it’s a colour usually used with restraint.
One of the consequences of the heavy rain and stormy seas of the last two days is the amount of debris that has been cast upon the beach. Driftwood of all sizes from tiny twiglets to tree trunks is scattered along the length of the high water mark, the occasional contrast provided only by some man-made addition to the detritus, or in this case an avian tragedy. I’m used to seeing pheasants meet grisly fates upon our roads, but finding one on the sand is a first.
Nearer the sea there are further casualties as large section of the kelp forest, many still vainly clinging to the rocks they anchored to, have been torn from the sea bed and randomly thrown ashore where they lie semi-interred by the flow of watery silica returning to the waves.
And whilst the rains may be gone, their aftermath is not. Streams that pass unnoticed across the beach have asserted their claim to broad swathes of shore; twisting and meandering into miniature deltas or diffusing into their neighbours to give a crystal sheen to the land underfoot.
All in all the place is a mess, but clearly not enough to deter the dog walkers who have returned to their usual haunt, including Elaine whose companion was determined to be in shot too. Beyond her came the throng of angry bees as a group of four wet bikers raced along the coast to the best surf where they could entertain any passing photographer. Whilst Seaburn is a blue flag beach I do wonder at the amount of effluent that has also been churned up by the recent violent currents. I’d certainly have seconds thoughts if I was this chap!
This has been one of those languid days; overcast skies have no wind to break the clouds which become an amorphous pale grey blanket. That same stillness leaves the sea unperturbed with not a wave to give texture. It warm enough for a slight haze to soften the line between the two elements creating a picture that only a minimalist could love.
I feel the same about the people today. Few inspire, and those who do I reject as too like others that I have photographed before. Cliché is not on my agenda today.
This is dangerous territory, for by spurning the familiar, I could leave myself with nothing at all to photograph. I’m reminded of this as I cross Roker Ravine and look out to sea. The lighthouse and pier must have been photographed hundreds of times, (by me alone I think!) yet today I spotted a new take on the scene, and one so ephemeral that it must be captured there and then for tomorrow it will be different again.
Yet as I cycle on into town I find it filled with dozens of examples of the same thing, grey haired pensioners slowly picking their way across the flow of people to reach their objectives, tattooed single mothers lighting their next cigarette, young girls wearing more make up than some of the models I have shot under studio lighting. It all feels so “samey”.
And then I spot Rachel in conversation with her mother, and when she smiles I know I’ve found the grail I seek. Her alternative look breaks the monotony perfectly, which is ironic since a monotone image suits her really well. Shame it only tells half the story, yet full colour seems too much. For me that answer lies somewhere in between.
I’ve recently been inspired by the work of David Nightingale, a photographer based in Blackpool, who is renowned for creating dramatic imagery using Photoshop to enhance colours, tones and contrasts. Have a look at some of his work here on his website
In one of his images a simple broken bucket, left abandoned on the shore, becomes a work of artistry, and with this in mind I set off to walk the high water line today looking for opportunity. I’m not claiming a similar skill level, but wanted to see what I might learn from using some of his techniques. I shot this one almost as soon as I arrived, so felt confident of some success anyway.
Between the piers at Roker I was astonished at the volume of driftwood washed onto the shore. I don’t walk this stretch very often, so it could be the result of a long-term build up, but the difference here compared to the beach beyond the sea wall was remarkable. Most of the driftwood carried down the Wear seems to struggle to get out to sea, so is regurgitated onto the high water mark. Stepping through it feels like disturbing the nests of a group of pteranodons.
Surprisingly there was little here but wood (and the occasional spent shotgun shell) so I moved on, but not before I spotted the opportunity for this shot.
Away from the timber, and moving north I spotted two possibilities amongst the littoral litter. A child’s blue spade provided the first opportunity, but didn’t turn into anything of interest, but a pink ball, not much more substantial than a balloon ran playfully about the sand propelled by the onshore breeze.
Though decorated with a large cartoon strawberry, the ball had a will of its own and refused to displays this side of its personality to the camera. Never mind, it still gave me something interesting to work with, though I don’t think Mr Nightingale will lose any sleep!
I wasn’t the only beachcomber today, for at South Bents Judith and her two children were looking for interesting pieces of driftwood and collecting them into a small carrier bag. Judith explained that they were wanting to do something creative with them. Snap! Her hair and scarf make great details for a portrait too.
Update – I kept at the spade for a little while longer…