The Hunstanton Blues

© Dave Whenham
A drone image – sunrise over Old Hunstanton

Back in February Amanda and I booked a few days in a B&B in “Sunny Hunny, the Hunstanton of the title.  It was to be our third visit in twelve months and on each of the others we’d been treated to fabulous weather; sunshine, bright blue skies with lovely white fluffy clouds. Perfect for an audiovisual extolling the delights of this seaside town. I’ve not attempted a travelogue style AV previously so now was a good time.  We were booked to go in the third week of March so I had several weeks in which to plan and prepare.

The elegant resort of Hunstanton is the ideal base to enjoy Norfolk’s superb coastline. Hunstanton, or ‘Hunston’ as it is known locally, is renowned for its unique striped cliffs and magnificent sunsets, made special by its position as the only west-facing resort on the East coast.

Thus starts the script that I started writing in early March. I also started a basic shot list and felt that having both would inform my shooting whilst away. It was a family holiday and not a photographic trip so I’d have to fit the photography around the vacation. Not that I saw that as a problem, the types of images I wanted were more suited to the daytime and I didn’t think that black and white long exposures, my usual fare at the seaside, were really suited to a travelogue. 

Hunstanton Minimalist
Hunstanton minimalist – my usual seaside fare

So how did it go? Well, given that it’s August and no AV has yet been forthcoming that might give you a clue. I have however started to rewrite the script:

The sun is out, the sky is blue, there’s not a cloud to spoil the view but it’s BORING

Hazy – great for strolling, not so great for a travelogue

Yup, harsh, bright sun in a blue, tending to white, sky with not a cloud in sight. For three days. With no let up. Not once. I shot some images of course, but bland skies were not part of the original idea. I needed a rethink.

Ironically, I’d written in my diary the day before we arrived: “… I could also produce a VLOG, behind the scenes as it were, talking about shooting for the edit and being adaptable…” Prophetic words indeed and in the event it was May before I returned to the subject of Sunny Hunny, writing on 1st May: “my Sunny Hunny AV needs rethinking owing to the hazy weather. Perhaps ‘Hunstanton Blues’?”  The real lesson from March was that I shouldn’t approach a project with too fixed an idea. I did try to adapt but for some reason I really struggled to do so, I shot relatively few images and no video at all despite the idea of a behind the scenes VLOG. Which was odd as adaptability, particularly to the vagaries of the British weather, has always been a key part of my photography in the past. Perhaps it was because AV and VLOGs are all still very new to me and I’m having to work hard on the basics?

Hunstanton Beach 180 (Mavic Pro)

So, apart from the few images I’ve shared here my Sunny Hunny trip remains hidden on my computer. I think however, that I do still have enough usable images for a shorter AV, say 3-4 minutes rather than the 6-7 minutes I’d originally planned. The original idea was for a travelogue style AV and I think that is still the way to go but with a shorter sequence and so I shall have to rewrite the narration to fit and drop some of the subjects I’d planned talking about. The other option would be to write it as a photographic cautionary tale although that rather limits the audience. But that’s not stopped me before and two of my previous AVs, Square Shooter and The Dark Art both fared well in front of more general audiences this year.

Purpose-built as a seaside resort in 1846, Hunstanton retains its Victorian charm to this day. We’ve visited several times over the last few years and whilst the summer crowds tend to be smaller now than in the 1980s the promenade area has always been  busy. However, strolling north or south along the promenade the crowds quickly thin and we can enjoy a pleasant walk.

The script re-write has begun …

Watch this space!

WWT Martin Mere

We took a trip out to the Wetland and Wildfowl Trust at Martin Mere during the school holidays with Ted.  I’d have liked the opportunity to spend an hour or so in various hides just watching the birds, chilling and taking a few photographs.  That isn’t an option with a hyper four year old however. 

The Wisp

Walking and snapping wasn’t that easy carrying in my right hand a 100-400mm lens on the Fuji, a picnic in a rucksack on my back, the camera bag over one shoulder, the bag for the Fuji on the other and Teds belongings in my left hand. Try steadying the equivalent of a 620+mm lens with two bags hanging off the arm that you are using to steady the lens!

Red Admiral

So, rather than bemoan my fate I made the best of the day, set a fast shutter speed and concentrated on what was achievable within the limitations of my packhorse status. I came away with a pleasing set of images but more importantly Ted had a great day.

I popped a few images from the day onto Flickr in the album: WWT https://www.flickr.com/photos/fatherpie/albums/72157710485019366/with/48599384831/


Perfectly Imperfect #23

August #23
Instax Wide 210 with close-up lens

This sunflower has been a useful subject whilst testing my instant cameras during Instant August. I found the close-up lens for the Instax Wide 210 this morning (it had become buried under the detritus on my desk) so despite the sunflower being way, way past it’s best it was the obvious subject. Especially with a blue sky against which to frame it.

By way of comparison, this was taken at the same time but with a Polaroid 635 camera.

Original prints copied using iPhone

Perfectly Imperfect #20

August #20

The image surface of the Instax Mini film is 46x62mm – which means that most of us using a desktop machine will be viewing the scan above at considerably more than the prints physical size.

The whole point of Instax Mini though is not photographic-perfection but that is that it is fun. It’s not a serious photographic tool, but meant to be something that captures the moment. Pixel peepers need not apply! This was the very first shot from a secondhand Instax Mini 70 camera and despite its flaws captures a spontaneous moment in a way that couldn’t or indeed wouldn’t be captured by the nearest camera at the time – my Fuji XT3 which has a 100-400 lens permanently fitted.

Horses for courses.

365-2019-232
iPhone XR capture

As this was the very first image we captured I was not aware of the light leak, something I associate with Lomography or Polaroid but until now not with Fuji Instax. I found that I could cure the problem by using the case which came with the camera (which is for a Mini 8 but that’s another story). I think I’ve isolated the point at which light is leaking in so it’s either some black gaffer tape or the neat brown, semi-fitted case.

Photography is fun, we all lose our mojo at times, what better way to regain it!

Instant August – the backstory

Disclaimers: Firstly, I wrote this piece at the end of July – and didn’t  get around to posting it. As a result some things have already come to pass that I mentioned in my first draft as being on the cards, not least the Land Camera 1000, although I have hopefully edited those appropriately within the text (apart from the final Land Camera 1000 reference).  Secondly, this failure to post this piece, which I originally wrote in longhand on a yellow legal pad, was in many ways the catalyst for returning to wordpress.com. But anyway, onwards …

1977

  • Elvis Presley dies and has a posthumous number 1 with “Way Down”
  • Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Silver Jubilee
  • I left school and entered full time work
  • Polaroid launched the Land Camera 1000 in the UK

So, a seminal year.

I remember using a Polaroid camera right at the end of my time in the 6th form. Given it launched in the UK that year there is a fair chance I used one of the first cameras sold here in the UK.

Well, long story short, I’m playing with instant film again. Although you already know that if you’ve read any of my other recent posts.

INSTAX SQ6 (i)
Instax SQ6, one of the prints from the first pack of film

What? Why? Surely Dave you’re a “serious“ enthusiast photographer? Why such frivolous pursuits ?

Well, yes, I am serious about my photography but for me that means being open to experimentation too. I enjoy exploring different photographic mediums and trying other processes and alternative technologies.  Most importantly though I like to have a little fun along the way too and frankly, having been confined to base for several months now the fun has dwindled.  So in a bid to inject some fun back into proceedings I gave into a long term itch recently and purchased a Fuji Instax SQ6 instant camera and four packs of instant film.

Let’s get a couple of things out there to start with – this is not a cheap way to create photos. There I’ve said it.  Cost of film packs varies but so far I’ve averaged at 83p per print. Of course that is not 83p per “keeper”! That is for the Instax film; films for the old Polaroid cameras work out at around £2 per print, success or failure, so not for the faint hearted. But more of that later.

365-2019-216
Perfectly Imperfect. Double exposure using Fuji Instax SQ6.

Secondly, if you are a control freak then these basic, mainly plastic, mostly automatic, cameras with virtually no manual controls are not for you.  The latter point in particular is one I’ve heard mentioned a few times recently as a negative but for me the whole essence of these cameras is the lack of manual controls and the focus (pun intended) on creativity. This seeming drawback is in effect their USP. Strangely enough, the presence of a plastic lens in most of them barely gets a mention.

So, in a bid to give my mojo a kick I decided in late July to haunt a certain online auction site and pick up a few old Polaroid cameras to complement my two new Fuji Instax cameras. Two? Sorry, yes two, didn’t I mention that a Fuji Instax Wide 300 was recently added to the SQ6?  These cameras are not unduly expensive, they are plastic and basic, it’s the film,  that’s where you pay!

Perfectly Imperfect - Dean Clough
An homage to Bill Brandt … with an Instant camera, Instax Wide 300.

In order to give an added frisson to proceedings I decided at the end of July to take at least one instant film image each day throughout August to complement the ongoing 365 Challenge. Sounds easy, but realistically I cannot shoot dozens of images a day until I get “the one”. I have to nail it within three or four exposures otherwise the project will impair my ability to buy food and wine!  But it is this pressure that is proving to be the biggest motivator.

It’s had an unexpected side benefit too. I’ve started to read about the subject and as a result have also taken an interest in photography beyond what was needed for my daily image. This in turn has led me to read more generally and spend less time sat aimlessly with an iPad on my lap. Last week for example I read three classic novels from my “must read” list and started a fourth expanding my repertoire of authors in the process. In short, I’ve more enthusiasm all round.

August #1
August 1st and the first Instant August image

My online research into all things instant photography led to the purchase of two books, both of which I have now read cover to cover. It also led to the discovery that some instant cameras offer a degree of manual control; enter the Lomography Instant that I mentioned in a post a few days ago.

So there you have it. In a bid to rekindle my enthusiasm I have now added instant photography to my kit bag, or should that be bag of tricks, and whilst it’s still the honeymoon period I’ve a feeling that I will still be shooting instant film as we march bravely into 2020 and beyond.

In the meantime, fast forward 42 years from the last time I remember using a Polaroid camera and I’m awaiting delivery of my latest camera purchase … you’ve guessed it … a Polaroid Land Camera 1000!