Monthly Archives: November 2011

As If!

The learning curve is really steep today. You think you have it all sussed. You have scouted your location, you have loaded your films, you have made time in your schedule. And even the weather is playing along and providing a bright, mild, dry day for the location shoot. And yet…
As planned I set off this morning for my first project shoot on Dun Laoghaire pier. Well, not quite as planned. Maybe it should be part of the whole process of organising a shoot that the previous evening is set aside for contemplation and rest, too. I am thinking soccer camp here – no drink, no drugs, no sex latenight TV! It was the latter (of course!!!) that delayed me this morning. Watching seminal 1980s films until 2.15 in the morning is not conducive to getting up on time.
Nonetheless, I took off at 8 am (only marginally later than planned) and headed out to Dun Laoghaire. View camera in its big wooden box, tripod strapped into the back – and the old push chair in tow. Push chair you ask? No, not for me, old as I may be. For the gear, it was. The West pier is exactly one mile long – a loooong trek if you are carrying a four kilo view camera and a sturdy tripod that weighs probably twice that. 
On my way I had a first taste of this not being as easy-peasy as I had assumed. In view of the bright sunshine it – pardon the pun – dawned on me why my lecturer H___ had been proselytising about the need for a compass. Assuming that the sun rises slightly towards the Southeast (in winter time) and it being already an hour after sunrise (7.31 am), chances were that the sun would be right behind the lighthouses when I got there. I.e. no way I would be able to take a shot against the sun.
And as I got to the pier, more holes in my strategy appeared. Yes, I had found out that I needed to pay for parking. But I had not made sure to have change for the parking meter. *doooh* Back into the car and off to the nearest petrol station for some change then – and a further delay of 15 minutes.
With the car parked and the view camera avec tripod safely strapped into the push chair I finally bumbled off onto the pier. (My mood was already nearing lowest possible point – I tend to get discouraged and easily frustrated when things don’t go the way I thought they would. Thank God my mood-enhancing iPod was fully loaded and got me back in form.)
The pier was not exactly teeming with people, but there were of course the unavoidable anglers at the end – who obviously had some fun watching this weird lady turning up with what to them probably looked like antiquated equipment, fumbling to set up the tripod and then putting a black bag over her head to look at the back of the camera. (I actually wish I could’ve seen the whole scene. Probably
of slapstick quality…)
With camera on tripod I took focus on the East pier lighthouse – only to realise that my scouting had been totally off. The lighthouse was far too far away to appear big in my frame. Bummer! I took a picture anyway, but then just turned around the camera to photograph the West pier lighthouse.
Three pics in the bag. I would have liked to take the same on transparency, too, just for testing, but stupidly I had no box for exposed negs with me and therefore could not take the negs out of the holders. There is another thing to add to the list of facts learnt today… At least my college work book will be full!
East and West Pier Lighthouses, Dun Laoghaire Harbour

Girl Scouts

After a rather disappointing experience a couple of weekends ago I had resolved never to go out shooting anymore without having scouted the location before. At least when photographing with the 4×5. Hence I had set aside this morning for a trip to Dun Laoghaire harbour where I am planning to shoot the lighthouses at the end of the two piers for a college project. Based on that previous trip where I had to concede that my vantage point was too far away from the object I wanted to photograph, I had carefully checked the focal length of the view camera’s lens to make sure I could take test shots with Marky Mark and find the spot where I would set up the 4×5 on a subsequent trip. 
And so I set off, Marky Mark by my side and a little acolyte for company. A beautiful day and a good trip. I found the best place to park my car (not very close), checked how much the parking cost (daylight robbery!!) and which vistas suited my purpose (any without people in it!). The sun shone nicely and even provided me with a nice preview of what I might catch on film – minus the lighthouse appearing to fall over backwards.
Test shot with the iPhone *ooops*
I also realised that – although I was going to shoot on the less busy pier – I would have to come out early-ish on my shoot if I wanted to avoid having people walk in on my shot all the time. A slight problem as we are now in winter time and the mornings won’t get light until 7.30 am – not exactly an ungodly hour and therefore I would still have joggers running, anglers fishing and dogs and their people walking into the frame. Why oh why could I not have done this project in the summer? Surely, the early worm i.e. myself would have caught the bird then (or something like that…) The whole tour along the pier takes about 25 minutes one-way. So time will be a factor to keep in mind (if I want to avoid being clamped by the carpark stasi).
Tomorrow then is the day. I’ll go out for 8am and get my first few shots in the bag. I’ll try to take some transparencies as well as I want to experiment with that in advance of my final project (although that will be shot indoors).