Thursday, 19 July 2012

Photo: Sea Swift

by Daniel Rollins

This is a picture of a boat (obviously) that was on the slipway next to Portsmouth Harbor Station.
A few people elsewhere of the internet have asked how I created this image with it's subtle distortion and vivid colours... so here is how:
First I used the Canon EOS 50E that my Dad gave me, which takes pictures... on film! Yes, this picture was not created by a digital sensor but by a chemical reaction forming silver from silver halide crystals and light! Feels like magic but it's really just chemistry (and that's better in my books).

This 100 year old technology that some call outdated feels completely different to digital photography. When using a digital camera you can instantly see the image you made and choose to keep or delete on the spot, using film on the other hand you are never quite sure what the photo will look like when it comes out of the processing chemicals. This uncertainty adds an excitement and Romanticism to the process that you don't get with digital (or maybe I'm just a sentimental old hipster).

A more practical argument for using film is that my photography has improved while using film as there much smaller limit on the number of pictures you can take than when using digital. You can take hundreds of pictures and still have space on you memory card with digital, while with film you are usually limited to 12, 24 or 36 shots. This makes you think about each frame much more carefully, composing the shot and checking exposure, before you press the shutter button.

Another good thing about analogue photography is that you can also buy a descent film camera from a charity shop or Ebay for less than £20, though in the long run it isn't as cheap as digital when you take into account the cost of film and processing, but it is a good way to get started.

Anyway back from my analogue dream and onto the photograph, I took this picture with some really cheap Fuji film out of Asdas (it's on offer at the moment so get in there fast) which gives very nice blues and greens with great saturation, which is perfect for this image as they are the main colours.

I then wanted to emphasis the boats strong shape so twisted my zoom lens down to 28mm (do some maths to work out what that is on a digital camera by multiplying 28 by 1.5 or whatever the crop factor of your sensor is) and got right up close to the bow. Using this wideangle lens looking upward is what gave the picture its subtle distortion, emphasizing the boat in the foreground and creating a powerful shape.

I also used a relatively narrow aperture (not sure what it was exactly now as I didn't write it down at the time and there isn't any meta data on analogue images) because I wanted to keep the boat's surrounding in focus to give it some context as the strong shape and colour of the boat ensured that it wasn't fighting for attention inside the frame. Therefore leaving The Warrior and the other small fishing boats visible showed that this boat was not the only ship in the harbor and that there is another, larger, more military side to Portsmouth in the Royal Navy.

If you would like to submit a photo of Portsmouth to the Portsmouth Point Blog then email the photo along with an explanation or some details about the picture to either or

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