High contrast and a 10-stop filter at Skinningrove Beach

My dad got me hooked on photography.

He had a Nikon FE and a Nikon FM when I was about six and he turned the bedroom next to mine into a dark room.

The darkroom was a place of magic that I’d show friends quietly when I thought nobody was looking. An Aladdin’s cave, a Santa’s Grotto, only far, far cooler because it was in our house and lit with a glowing orange bulb. Developing my first picture at the age of six or seven left an indelible impression on me and probably explains in part why I refuse to leave film along, even now.

So, my father is fundamental to my photographic world.

And shooting for an afternoon at a location very special to him was a rare treat.

The place was Skinningrove, where my father spent many of his happiest moments as a young lad. The best thing, I hear, was tumbling down the sides through the marram grass onto the sugary sands with a girl you liked.

The day we went the wind was bowing so hard the sand felt like thousands of projectile needles.

Setting up on the loose sand with the tripod was not an option because the sand would have been a camera killer. Instead, we moved down towards the water, where the ripples in the softer sand caught our eye.

The sands here are very pale and, on a summer’s day, the sky is vast and dark blue. There’s also a rugged wild beauty to the place which in turns contrasts with the rugged industrial setting of the ironstone workings here.

So a place of contrasts. I wanted to bring out this sense of contrast and ruggedness in my pictures.

I don’t think my father had seen a 10-stop (I use 100 x 100 Formatt Hi-tech, which I’ve found to be excellent when properly sealed to the holder), so he was fairly surprised by the results. Also slapped on was a red filter as I knew I wanted a contrasty and dark monochrome image where the textures did the talking.

The most important thing for me is that my father likes the images. He says they’ve ‘got’ the feel of the place, which for me is praise indeed.Skinningrove Beach

On the way back to the car, I noticed this tractor and the sheds in the distance.

A splash of colour on a monochromic outing.
Skinningrove Tractor

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