Sprung

Finally a sign that Winter is relinquishing its grip.

Not only did the sun shine, but it did its best to raise the air temperature too.  Not enough to have the beach swarming with swim suited sun worshippers, but enough to create a haziness as water vapour rose from wet sand into warm air.  The thermometer had climbed into double figures.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to shoot at first.  There was a moment of drama with a runaway horse when I first arrived, but it was already moving away from me, presenting me with poor angles and a diminishing subject.     I wasn’t in the mood to go looking for portraits so that left me with landscapes to get started with.  The beach was stonier than usual, still bearing the shrapnel of every winter storm, so I incorporated these into a few shots.  Nice enough results, but I remained unsatisfied. (click any image to open a full size slideshow without the cropping)

Maybe some candids would do?  I switched to street photographer mode but there was little to interest me.  The three elderly couples sitting and staring out to see lacked any sort of animation to lift them out of blandness.  I took a few shots, but they went straight into the recycle bin once I began processing.   As I mused on what to try next another sign of Spring appeared.  This lady is a regular rider along the coast, and I have not seen her for some months, or if I have she was so wrapped up in waterproofs as to be unrecognisable.  Good to see her in her vernal plumage._MG_1034

Looking back to the waterline I saw my chance.  A small group of men seemed to be taking turns to race a horse-drawn buggy along the expanse of sand exposed by the retreating tide (or maybe it was the same guy with a group of fans waiting to judge every run he made).  If he set off once more, I would have time to get into position before he made the turn to come back and perhaps get some shots that captured the action.  I was in luck.

As he raced South, I ran down to the shore to find a spot somewhere near the tracks he had left, thinking as I did that I must remain visible even if crouching.  Being mown down by a galloping horse wasn’t on my to-do list today.  The first shot was good, the angle allowing me to see the faces of both horse and rider, as well as a flowing mane to create movement.

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The second shot was good too.  Horse airborne and sharp, muscles, veins and ribs revealed by the oblique lighting.

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And then the third.  Initially I felt it lacked something.  Shot side on, the lack of any angle made it feel flat, but the mane and tail flowed nicely.  Could I give it anything in processing?  Judge for yourself.  I found the use of overlays to dirty the sky and sand helps give more movement and drama.  This is my favourite, but which one is yours?

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Sun, sea, sand, and ……

I’ve photographed many of those who find exercise and recreation in the waters off Whitburn and Seaburn; the many board riders, propelled by sail, kite, paddle or wave, the kayakers and even the open water swimmers.  Consequently when I walked the beach today I wasn’t sure who or what I’d shoot.

The wind and waves were combining to give a constant stream of rolling breakers, but there were few taking advantage; most of those who braved the sea were of the run in and straight out again variety.

Still there were the occasional images that prompted me to raise the camera to my eye; a family with a shared love of sartorial millinery,

an old man keeping guard over the clothes while others paddled (well someone has to!)

and the inevitable evidence of the totem builders who try to build mysticism from driftwood!A little further along and I spotted a group on horseback, racing on the soft sands and then cooling their steeds in the shallows.  I remember shooting a horse on Whitburn beach a few years back and thinking it was a an unusual event.  Now they seem to be part of the fixtures and fittings, but I’ve not photographed them in the same way as I have other beach users.

As I neared the group there was one woman whose mount stood out to me as a particularly fine specimen, but I’m no equestrian.  Nevertheless I like the way its muscles are sculpted by the light.  As I said a fine specimen, contrasting with the mount of one of the other riders.  Bet the dog was worried!Today’s picture is of Sid whose aquiline features reminded me of a young Martin Landau.  I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d spoken to me with an American accent.  (He didn’t.)