Shot of the Week 2019/03 – Flamingo Family Amusements at Hastings
It had been a bit of a strange week, mainly as I was unwell and did not take as many photos as I might otherwise have done. Fortunately, I was feeling fit enough for a camera club outing to Hastings at the weekend, where I eventually took my photo of the week. A night time shot of the Flamingo amusement arcade.
I am well aware of what is likely to happen were I to put this image in front of a camera club judge. Most of the buildings which I photographed were facing onto the street and I had little option other than to shoot them head on. It turned out not to be a particularly interesting viewpoint. The arcade is separate from the surrounding buildings, so I was able to take it at an angle. That does mean that I could get some pleasing diagonals but it does mean the corner post on the right becomes very obvious.
Many judges, although by no means all, would comment that it acts as a division and they can see two images. Is it really such a problem? I do not think so. For me, the principal part of the image is the doorway. The post, while indeed prominent, helps to keep the eye in the frame and emphasises the door. I like to think that it helps invite the view to walk down the short path to the door. Sometimes I find that judges critique by rote and consequently overlook what the photographer has set out to achieve.
The day at Hastings had not started well. I had attempted to do some long exposures, but had struggled to get the camera set up. Partly that was due to the cold wind which did not help the fiddly business of attaching the filter and adjusting the camera settings. I had also neglected to take my tripod with me and was relying on a Gorillapod to do the honours instead. Having triggered the first exposure, I watched as the camera wobbled in the wind. Eventually, after a few more nondescript exposures, I gave up and headed off in the direction of the pier.
This shot is created from seven separate images which I stitched into a panorama using Lightroom. I liked the symmetry between the pier and the storm drain outlet in the foreground. The brooding sky contrasting with the luminance of the sea I also find pleasing.
The morning turned out to have the best light which I had largely squandered with my futile long exposure attempts. After lunch, conditions turned into a dull, overcast winter’s day. I struggled to find inspiration. Sometimes, it goes like that. Once it would have bothered me if things were not going well. Nowadays, I simply wait to see what happens next. You are potentially only ever one shot away from a good image. It is the unexpected nature of photography which, for me at least, makes it so fascinating.
Most people called it a day as the sun went down unseen behind a thick bank of cloud. I decided to stay on for a bit to see what the evening in Hastings would offer. Despite being a Saturday, or maybe because it was, many places were still open. There were plenty of opportunities for some night time shots. The lack of a tripod was not a problem, with a fast lens there was more than enough light to shoot handheld. I will admit, though, the exposure for my chosen shot, f/2 @1/55 and ISO 200 did surprise me. Initially I thought that the ISO would need to be higher.
Overall, I enjoyed the trip to Hastings. There is a lot to see and I did not get to all of it. The town is definitely worth a return visit.
In order to have a selection of images for my shot each week, I like to have a variety of different subjects from which to choose. To that end, some are “safety shots”, available to fall back on if need be. A few years ago, I did a photo-a-day project. While it helped my photography immensely, but I did find that flowers became a frequent standby subject. This time around, I determined that where possible I would not rely on such images.
It is not an absolute rule. Besides, flowers have their own beauty and there is no reason to avoid them entirely. These narcissus are home grown and are a harbinger of spring. My health issues meant that I was not venturing out much, so I needed something. These flowers were at their peak and were a perfect opportunity to ensure I would have something.
My chosen lens was an elderly Vivitar manual focus 55 f/2.8 macro lens. It is probably at least 35 years old. I mounted it on a Sony A7 II using an inexpensive adapter. I do enjoy giving new life to these lenses and using them on camera bodies for which they were never intended. Many of them have a character which is often missing from modern lenses. Since I rarely use autofocus for macro work, its absence was actually a benefit. I know that the point of focus is not going to move from where I set it. Despite its age, the lens is very sharp although it appears to be optimised for macro. It does go all the way out to infinity, but there is little point. There are other lenses which perform better at longer focussing distances.
At first, I had the lens stopped down but I was not finding that satisfactory. There was too much depth of field and the results were fairly ordinary. Eventually, I opened the lens to its maximum f/2.8 aperture and concentrated on just one bloom. I liked the resulting out of focus effect, but it was not enough. In Lightroom, I applied some negative Clarity but still wanted more. I made a quick round trip to Photoshop where I applied the Glamour Glow filter which is in the Color Efex application from the Nik Collection. I find many of the Color Efex filters to be redundant, but Glamour Glow is useful on occasion to help lift an image.