High tide, and experiments

Last night I was walking home in the dusk, under beautiful skies, and the tide was so high that the lock gates in the Cumberland Basin were left open, and 11.2 metre tide, per the Bristol Tide Tables, and that’s without any extra rainfall coming in from all the tributaries.

On evenings like this, it’s always hard to choose what to do, as the sun sets so quickly, and the river changes fast.  Between here and Vauxhall Bridge, where I left the water, the tide kept coming in, and it was a beautiful night – windy and gorgeous, and all my phone photos look like I’ve put crazy filters on them.

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Exploring the Avon – Pill to Sea Mills, and following in Roman footsteps

One of the things I want to do with this project is to use it as an excuse to go walking, and exploring places I’ve always thought about – and last week was an adventure I wouldn’t have had without it.

I’ve known Tracy Homer for nearly 12 years, when we met at the first Bristol flickrmeet.  Back when flickr was this amazing social media site, we were part of the Bristol flickr group, and there was this moment when some of us went to a pub to take it from online friends to In Real Life, which branched off into going for flickrwalks to take photos together. Some of my best friends in Bristol are people I met that way, and I still go to a pub once a month or so with some of them, even though we now arrange through different ways, and flickr has gone from being about social media to being somewhere I just upload my photos to.

I liked Tracy from the moment I met her, and I’ve got so many good memories of talking mile-a-minute with her, taking photos, discovering new places, and always laughing a lot.  It’s one of those friendships where we can go years at a time without being in touch, but start where we left off, and she’s the best company for photowalks.  There’s something about not needing to explain why the walk will take twice as long as it should, because we’re stopping for photos, with someone who’ll get exactly what I mean when I’m over-excited about the light on the mud, or the way the grass curves, or whatever it is, and will understand the need to take the same shot on three different cameras, because she’s doing exactly the same thing.

Last week we went for a long walk, one I’ve been wanting to do for ages:  from Pill, up the Avon to the M5 road bridge, then down the north side of the river to Sea Mills, to look for echoes of the Roman town of Abona, and then up the old Roman road to the Downs.   All walks with Tracy tend to start with frantic texting and laughing at ourselves right from the start, and this was no different.  Could we manage to meet on the same bus from different stops?  Of course we could!

This is the map of our route, with my photos on it, and there are more in my flickr album.  I had four cameras with me – my Canon DSLR with a 50mm lens, my Olympus XA2 point & shoot film camera (though I ran out of film, stupidly), my iPhone, and the last of the £1 disposable underwater cameras, and there are some from each on the map, plus a mini film.

I’ve also put photos in the blog below.  It’s a long one, because it was a long walk (that’s my excuse, at least!)

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An Avon meditation film

It’s the Bristol Balloon Fiesta this weekend, and they’re notorious for not saying whether the mass launches will happen or not – so I set the alarm for 5:30am (ugh) yesterday to try to see the 6am ascent, but fell asleep before they confirmed it would happen.  Then the evenings have been too windy for the launches, so I made myself get up for the 6am launch today.

I’ve been dreaming about getting a film of something we experienced a few years ago – a stream of balloons floating along the Avon.  I’ve seen the mass ascent from the Fiesta once, and it’s fine, but I really want that river-of-balloons echoing the river, and to record the roaring of the burners.

I was so pleased with myself for being up early, in the beautiful morning light, and watching the balloons from Vauxhall Bridge felt great, I was convinced it was going to happen… until we realised the wind was taking them east, away from us.

I had that really crappy FOMO feeling (Fear Of Missing Out), and I feel for Vik and Matt, as I was also having low blood sugar and literally didn’t know which way to turn – chase the balloons?  Find a different spot?  Try to find breakfast?  Luckily Lockside was open early and I recovered my equilibrium – and then on the way home, there were these gentle-looking streams from the Outflow into the river, with clouds of silt.  The incoming tide was a fast one, but the force of the outflow was pushing the stream far over the water.  I only got 5 minutes of this, but I love it, it’s my perfect meditation film:

The only thing was wanting about 15 cameras pointing at different points.  But I here’s a mobile phone film-ette of a different point of the river at the same time:

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Rain from underwater

I’ve been on a bit of a mission to take film and photographs of rain from under the surface of the Floating Harbour, and like all good photographic missions, it hasn’t gone exactly to plan.

This is always the way.  My best/worst example was when I was doing a 6 week book arts module on my photography degree, starting at the very end of March, and my plan was to make a book called April Showers, with a page for every day of the month, with photos for the days I was rained on, and blank pages for the days it was dry… and it was this hilarious heatwave with no rain for the entire month!

That’s generally what happens when I have a specific mission in mind, and ever since I’ve borrowed Tim’s GoPro, with a great set of plans for putting it in puddles, the Harbour, rivers etc etc, I’ve been scuppered because when I’ve been out it’s been dry, unless I’m nowhere near water, or the battery’s dead etc etc.

But it’s rained a little bit recently, so I have 2 mini films.  The first is from art-walking with Shawn Sobers last week, the GoPro lodged in a crack in the Nova Scotia slipway and the second from today, with the camera attached to a telescopic painting-roller pole, via Tim’s handlebar mount, while sat underneath the slope to the closed jetty opposite the SS Great Britain.

In the first, it stopped raining almost as soon as I got there – in the second I ran out of battery almost straight away, and again, the rain stopped pretty quickly.  I was experimenting with having the camera at different depths, which is why the point of view moves.

So I haven’t got the film of my dreams yet, but it was fun sitting on the edge of the Harbour and on jetties with Vik, wondering if it was going to rain or not, it’s always going to be fun trying to get some more.

 

Filming (and failing to photograph) fish in the Harbour

I always love the fish in the Harbour – from spotting big fish, to the shoals of tiny fish-lets that are in the shallowest parts of the Harbour on the sunny days, flashing silver as they dart in shoals.  I took this photo, which was a fantastic failure, but when I borrowed my friend Tim’s GoPro, one of my goals was to get some films.

This was a beautiful, mellow, sunny day.  I’d met my friend Matt Gibson for coffee at the Underfall Yard, and our walk lasted about 2 minutes before we stopped by the western jetty and slipway by the Nova Scotia.

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The sound of Horfield Brook

On Tuesday I was over in St Werburghs, and I went home via Mina Road Park, which always fascinates me.  From the road it looks like a pretty nondescript urban park, albeit with the incredible iron urinal – but it has a river running through it, Horfield Brook.

It’s a short stretch, but it’s been looked after, with viewing platforms, planting and decorative bridges.  At the north-west corner of the park it disappears into the old factory site, and there’s a pair of concrete slabs in the water, I guess to control the flow a little, and it sounds like this:

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Happy accidents

I’ve been borrowing my friend Tim’s GoPro Hero3, and even though I’ve used one before, I’m just making ridiculous mistakes every time I take it out.  Pretty much everything that comes off it is me looking multi-chinned, frowning down at the camera.

But this accident was a happy one.  I borrowed the camera hoping to take lots of film of heavy rain in puddles, in the Harbour, on the river… but of course it’s been a heatwave!  Yesterday it did rain for a little bit, and before the battery died, I shot a tiny film, 27 seconds of usable, I think – but accidentally slo-mo, which I love!  Enjoy some raindrops on the surface of the Harbour, slowed right down.  Some mistakes make me happy!