On the beach

A long, long time ago, before you were born, I was on a beach (Blackpool) and spent three hours, maybe more, taking black and white film photographs of fragments of seaweed on the beach.  Perhaps there had been a recent storm, as there were lots of little shreds scattered across the bright sand, glistening in the bright sun. I thought they were abstract or elemental in a way that probably neolithic humans would have recognised.  These were practically cave-painting-photographs.

I could hardly wait to get back and develop the film the following Monday in the Trent Poly darkrooms and produce some best-I've-ever-done10 x 8 inch prints on Agfa Record Rapid paper.  Um. All good except the whole thing turned out to be a massive fail (even though 'fail' was not used in that precise way back then, although the word had been invented).  I was gutted and disorientated at how far wide of the mark I'd been.  They just did not look even close to what I thought they should. 

It was probably soon after that I started trying to understand working with tonalities in a more informed way, and set up my camera and developing in line with the zone system, where tonal pre-visualisation can align the idea with the outcome. That was OK but still, I've never quite overcome the sense of serious self-doubt whenever since having the feeling that a shoot has gone really well - I just assume it's probably not. 

I took a bunch of photos of foot-marks on the beach today.  I didn't put in hours so it was not so doom-laden but it was a bit of a sweaty reminder even to spend 15 minutes pointing the camera down at shapes on/in sand.  That original beach-photography trauma is still alive and well.  I also see it as the weekend a safety net was installed.


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