NPTrekker MeetUp Nov 2019
We had a healthy RSVP list for our scheduled November MeetUp at the Falkland Gardens on the waterfront of Gosport. On the morning of the meet, I checked the forecast again, because the night before a rain storm was forecast. Sure enough, the rain storm was still approaching so the difficult decision to postpone the meetup was made to great disappointment. Luckily, half a dozen members were able to make the following week. The date came with no forecast of rain so we met up near the dry fountain, just a stones throw from the taxi rank and bus station.
Jason and I arrived at the fountain with the hope of displaying our bright red MeetUp banner. The wind was so strong that we couldn’t even take it out of the protective carrier bag. We would have surely lost our only marketing prop in a second if we tried to display it. So we set up our tripods and cameras so that we were clearly visible as photographers. Jason suggested that we should stand under a street light rather than the dark bench, but somehow I managed to argue that we shouldn’t make it too easy for the NPTrekkers.
Our group slowly built up near the fountain as we got to know each other and check out all the different camera systems. As soon as we were together, we moved closer to the waterfront near the clock tower on the Gosport sea defence.
My composition aim was to bring the spires of the two towers closer together. Even at my tripod’s highest setting with the centre column raised fully the spires were too different. One option would have been to back off several meters, this would have required a severe crop to achieve a similar sized clock. This would have affected the final image, especially if I want to make a large print. Luckily, I looked behind me and spotted a foot high wall. It was impossible to fit all three tripod feet onto the wall, but at one point there was a litter bin which I managed to put my third tripod foot on. Although I had achieved an extra foot in height I was limited in my left and right so the two towers were closer than I would have liked. However, a square crop has helped the composition to be more visually appealing.
The lighting on the Gosport ferry couldn’t be worse for photography. The lower deck is filled with brilliant white light. Practically, it serves a purpose, but for night photography it is best to try and avoid it. However a shorter exposure time (4 seconds) retains a bit of shape. In fact, I think the ferry adds a dynamic of movement to the scene. Can’t wait to try again with some magic cloth technique.
Apart from the learning aspects of a photography group, security is another huge benefit. Half a dozen adults with heavy tripods is a fairly safe evening for everyone. Anyone with shady intentions would be crazy to approach such a group. However we were approached by a stocky stranger in a high-vis security vest. I thought he was part of the group because he had a tripod also, but it was just coincidence that he wanted to photograph the Spinnaker tower too. He naturally fitted in as we got chatting about night photography. He was a beginner photographer with a Nikon. I explained why I though Night photography was so beneficial to beginner photographers because you learn your camera in the dark. You get to know where all the buttons are by feel. This is a huge leap in developing camera skills because it means you can watch a scene rather than having to look at your camera. The security man was ex-military Bomb disposal who used photography to help with PTSD. He also appreciated how photography had got him out to meet interesting people.
After some time at the clock tower, we made our way towards the Millennium Time-space Sundial that sits between the 2 residential towers on the waterfront.
Chas: “Gopsort borough council has built a massive sundial”.
Dave: “What a waste of money! How can you tell the time at night?”
Chas: “Don’t worry about that, they put a light on it!”
Opposite the sundial is a Jetty with wooden decking and randomly lit streetlamps. AT the end of the Jetty is an uninterrupted view of the Spinnaker tower. At least it is uninterrupted between the coming and going of freight ships and cross channel ferries.