Compare and contrast – Gaol Ferry Bridge

I have always been fascinated with how the same thing can look so different when taken with different cameras – everything from what’s included or discarded by the size of a lens, to the way colours come out, or just a different atmosphere.  But I think I’ve hit a new high in compare-and-contrast, and it’s making me laugh.

I tend to take photos of the Avon when I cross the footbridges, so one night last week we were walking home from town over Gaol Ferry Bridge, and the river was full, so I took this on my phone, looking east:

Gaol Ferry Bridge night

Moody, dark, and I like that it still shows the wind on the river.   At the same time I took one on my Olympus XA2 – my 35mm point & shoot.  I used the edge of the bridge as a tripod, because it would have a longer exposure.   And here’s how it came out:

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Self indulgence, Avon mud

If you look at my site for even a few minutes, you will have realised that I obsess about a lot of things photographically, and especially about the Avon mud.   More specifically, about the way the light hits it, and how it continually looks different.   It makes me happy, and film cameras make me happy, so combining the two is great, though it makes me feel guilty and self-indulgent to keep shooting the same thing.

It’s especially an issue now, when camera film is so expensive, and getting the pictures developed it as well.   It can be around £16 in total for a roll of 35mm, and over £20 for 120 and that just hurts (you know I am missing the days of film in the Pound Shop, and cheap film outlets).   So I’m thinking of cutting back on film photography, and predominantly using digital, which is very sad for me… but before I do, I had a completely self-indulgent day shooting nothing but mud on my beautiful waist-viewfinder Bronica ETRS, for medium format “who cares about the cost!” photography.   The sad thing is, all that happened when I got the roll back is I want to do it again, and again, and again.   Ah well.

Here’s the flickr album – if you click on the first picture below, it should bring up the slideshow.  The first four are along the Chocolate Path, which feels even more poignant now the Path is closed indefinitely, with no hint from the Council as to when it might open (I’m genuinely worried they’ll decide to just let it fall into the river, because there has been so little upkeep of the New Cut, going back years).  I’m glad that at least I did this while I could.

Avon mud - shapes along the Chocolate Path

 

Avon mud

I don’t know why, but the mud around the Entrance Lock has been covered in muck at the moment – maybe because there hasn’t been much heavy rain recently?   It’s one of those things I laugh at myself for being frustrated about, and then suddenly see it in a new light, literally and figuratively. I love the patterns it makes, around the paths made by rivulets finding their way to the river.

Mud, marks

December reflections

Last week there was a rare run of gorgeous winter days: cold, crisp and clear, all amazing light, long shadows and beautiful reflections on the Avon.

Some photos from the Chocolate Path, when the light was especially pretty in between cloudbursts.  Such a lovely walk.  The photos are in order from Gaol Ferry Bridge down to the Avon viewpoint, and back again to Vauxhall Bridge.

Gaol Ferry Bridge reflections

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Avon mud

Triptych:  Mud (medium format)

I have so many photographic obsessions, and one of them is the mud on the Avon banks, especially around the blocked up lock at the entrance to the Cumberland Basin.   The silt has banked up here in corrugations, with lines where water has flowed meandering through it.  It’s fascinating in every kind of light, but my favourite moments are when the sun is low, making the water on the surface turn to silver.  The ridges and lines look like landscapes – mountains and rivers and hills.   And on windy days the light changes so fast, as clouds whip across the sky.   I made a film of that in the summer, and I need to go back and try it again in winter light.

Triptych:  Mud (medium format)

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1st November Avon view

 

Back at the start of the month I was taking the kind of walk I do a lot of in winter.   I get SAD, and I’ve been freelancing, so I have to make a conscious effort to leave the house sometimes.   One thing I do is order books from the library, so I have a continual reason to be out, dropping off read books, taking out new ones.   They start off as  functional, deliberate walks, rather than explorations, or leisure, but they can lead into more.

IMG_3270

IMG_3272

This time I started getting fascinated with the wooden structures that are built into the silt banks along the stretch of river between Bedminster Bridge and the former entrance to the Harbour at Bathurst Basin.   They look so botched together, straining at the pressure of holding up the weight of the banking, and on their last legs.  I wonder when they were built, how long they will last, and what will happen when they fall – and that makes me think about how so much of the New Cut has been so badly maintained, and seems like one or two big storms away from collapsing.   It’s an unnatural river, and should need constant upkeep.  Without it, it won’t last another 50 years, let alone 100.

Where the Avon used to join the Floating Harbour, at Bathurst Basin

My photos were bad – grey November day, just my iphone, and 200iso in my 35mm, but I love them.   I hopped over the fence to look at the mechanics of the outlet that lets the Malago into the Avon, as I’m always intrigued as to what everything is.  It’s this kind of view I like best, and these are the moments the functional walks turn into something more.

Where the Malago joins the Avon

Malago structures, on the Avon

And it’s a continual obsession to take the same photos with multiple cameras, to see how the view changes – here’s the river from an unusual viewpoint, phone & 35mm.

Avon compare & contrast

Avon view - compare and contrast

The composition is better on the mobile, the colours better on film – but neither are great.   I wish I’d had my medium format or DSLR with me.   But I love them for the memory, and because I can’t remember seeing this view before.  I want to see what it looks like in winter, and spring, and summer.  Golden hour and frosty morning light, and everything between!

A November walk through Nature Reserves

Last week, Vik and I took a November walk, starting at Sea Mills, down through the nature reserves, then along the Portway to the Goat Gully, and up around the Downs to Clifton.  We started a bit late for this time of year, getting on a bus at around 1pm, so by the time we’d got to the Suspension Bridge, it was definitely dusk.

I’ve been to these places before, but never as one walk, and that always shows new sides to places.   The Avon always looks different every time, of course, and I’ve only been the the nature reserves in the Spring before.

Photos are in this flickr set – there are photos from my DLSR, point’n’shoot 35mm and medium format film cameras.  Click through to see more, and I have more links below too.

The Avon from the Goat Gully

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A coach trip to the Bristol Port

A  few weeks ago, as part of the Docks Heritage Weekend, we took a coach trip around the Bristol Port sites at the Royal Portbury Dock and Avonmouth.  I had no idea what to expect, except we wouldn’t be allowed to get off the coach, but it was free, and of course I was interested.

It was an interesting photography say, as the mini-coach didn’t stop, and had tinted windows which put a weird colour cast on everything.  Plus window reflections are hard to avoid!  But I have a flickr set, taken with my DSLR + 50mm lens, and my mobile phone (click the photo to see more).

Machinery

It was really fascinating, especially in terms of spaces built for function, not design, and where space was not an issue.  The two huge Avonmouth concrete buildings, for example, are standing empty because it’s cheaper and easier than taking them down, which seems so unusual in the context of Bristol.

Docks

Portbury is all about the rows and rows of cars, waiting to be shipped out, or shipped around the UK, but we also went through a huge grain storage shed, with pyramids of animal feed piled high.  The Avonmouth side is bigger, with what feels like more diversity, but it was hard to tell – we went on a maze-y route that I couldn’t map in my head.

My favourite part was when we got out to the helicopter pad on the edge of Avonmouth, where the Avon meets the Severn.  The driver did a very neat turn very close to the edge, which had us all gasping!   I so wanted to get out and take photos – it’s always a surprise how close Wales is, and I’ve never seen the junction between the rivers.  It made me want to take a boat trip out into the Severn – to Steep Holm maybe?

Where the Avon meets the Severn

It’s something I’d absolutely recommend to anyone, if you have the chance to do this.  It was such unusual landscapes, and structures, and the commentary was fun (unintentionally hilarious in places too!).  So much to enjoy, and for free?  Perfect!

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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