Monday, October 13, 2008

A short walk...

To see a bigger selection of images click here.

Yesterday, being both sunny and Sunday, I elected to take my camera and myself for a walk around Wapping, an area of cobbled streets and old converted warehouses, riverside apartments and Thameside lovliness that I rather like.

I got there (well, to Tower Hill tube station) around two-ish and doing my best not to look like a tourist fought my way through the crowds past The Tower of London to St Katherine's Dock. I love that place; the absurdity of boats in the middle of a city still excites me - although not enough on this occasion to switch my camera on. Naturally, I went to have a look at the two magnificent Dutch barges moored there. I am obsessed by Dutch barges. I heart them big time and will one day have one to cruise the canal systems of Europe.

Carrying on, I wandered down Wapping High Street and started shooting the things that interest me; little passages leading to the river, the river itself, yellowing leaves against the crystalline blue sky juxtaposed with old Wapping warehouses...

Not the greatest pic, I grant you, but I love the colour of those leaves.

And now a short rant: There is a law, I believe, that any new development along the Thames MUST allow public access along the river. Why then, do various developments have the walkways but block access to the public. Its not bloody good enough and it must stop. Give us OUR river!!! No doubt they do this because there may have been in the past, incidents of petty vandalism. Well, I am going petty vandalise your bloody locked gates with an angle grinder!

Back to my walk: I carried on walking where posssible, alonside the river and shooting pics greedily. There was a bunch of sea kayakers paddling out with the tide, enjoying the waves and the wakes of the Thames Clippers.

Its hard to imagine a better way to spend an afternoon than paddling down the Thames on an outgoing tide. I miss my sea kayaks.

There were open RIBs full of tourists smashing across waves - plenty of into-the-sun shots and there was a flourescent green football that seemed to keep me company bobbing alongside. I took a quick shufti around Limehouse basin - pleasant but always in my mind, a bit of a wannabe compared to St Kath's. Knocked off a couple of shots of reflections (I'm building a reflections library) and then carried on down the river to docklands.

There is something special about Docklands on a Sunday. During the weekdays its exciting and busy, but so many people see it like that. On Sunday's it seems almost like its been let down by its people...its quiet and uncertail of itself - almost overdressed. But its great for photography.

I unfortunately was using my ancient Canon 50-200 F3.5-5.6 (with a 1.6 x magnification) lens which wasn't wide enough for a lot of shots, but I made do - and I'm almost glad I didn't have a wide lens because I got some good shots of reflected buildings on other buildings cropped tight. I underexposed quite a few of the pics deliberately, and I have to say, I'm tickled pinkish with the results...

Under exposed, yes, but I love it.. will have a further play with this in Lightroom

This old crane was a perfect subject for black and white - although I did actually use split toning to warm up the highlights just a tad. Click on it to see (if your monitor is good enough - its very subtle).

I carried on walking past a youth activity centre and, more importantly, past five Dutch (spits) barges rafted up on the other side of the harbour and eventually ended up next to the river again, opposite the millenium dome. It was 4.15 and I decided to walk round the Isle of Dogs along the river rather than cut back across Docklands. Again I had to contend with the blocked off walkways which if nothing else, considerably lengthened my journey. Lesson learned: Don't walk along the river. Buy a Dutch barge.

A lovely LuxeMotor Dutch barge. I find its almost impossible to get a decent side-on shot of these 30m plus boats - this was shot from across the river and its lines are somewhat interfered with by the ugly houseboat behind.

The afternoon light was slowly developing into something special and I was constantly checking behind me as well as in front and to the side to see how various landmarks were reacting to the light, and banging off a shot here and there. The tide had gone out a fair bit exposing the foreshore. I was tempted to walk along it, but am as yet not sure whether its nice hard pack the whole way or whether it suddely get soggy/muddy. But the light on the sand and pebbles was magic and I got a couple of decent shots in.

I should have been on the ground for this old rope... it was just dying to be properly photographed...

Brutal Monolith. Reduced the saturation and cranked the warm tones big time...

As I neared Wapping once again, the sun was setting and the moon was rising right behind Docklands... the light was PERFECT. It weas then that I discovered my CF card was full. No problem. I knew I had several shots that were throw-away quality so I threw them away... and then, with a lovely classic Camper & Nicholson yacht motoring upstream in the foreground, the moon rising behind the golden light-bathed docklands I raised my camera, composed my shot, pressed the shutter button and... nothing. Flat battery.

I thought these pilings would be great in mono, but the warm tones from the afternoon sun won in the end

There's nothing you can say to yourself when that happens. So I phoned my good friend Ian and went for a few pints which was, as always, truly excellent even though he had to endure me recounting my woes about batteries, shite lenses and the need for a new camera, a second new camera and, ahem, a third new camera (just a point and shoot pocket camera). And new lenses. And a Dutch Barge.

Eventually I tubed it home and this was when I discovered, very frustratingly, a useful little trick: If your camera battery is flat, remove it. Then put it back into the camera and power up. Hey Presto! It works! I was furious, especially as I now had enough power to review all my shots, including zooming in to check sharpness etc. I tested the auto focus (my 50-200 lens is getting my blame for guzzling power) and it worked fine. Such a waste.

A fine day all the same!

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