Saturday was tied up this weekend with various jobs to be done, so I had little time for any photography, but Sunday dawned with bright weather that looked like it might have promise, should I decide to take advantage. However, despite a desire to make use of the available time to take photos, I was also feeling lazy, with a conflicting need to just sit on my backside watching TV and reading books. And, for a while, this secondary need prevailed as, after my dad’s usual Sunday morning visit, the cloud cover had thickened considerably, draining much of the contrast from the world outside. Now, I don’t mind dull or inclement weather where photography is concerned – in fact it can be a positive boon in some cases – but I wasn’t really feeling it at the time and so the pull of the settee won out.
After dinner (I’m from Yorkshire, so “dinner” is actually the midday meal around these parts, and what others would call “dinner” is actually “tea” – not the drink, the evening meal) the weather had perked up again, the clouds had thinned back to large puffs of cumulus, and the light was bright. Not exactly golden-hour stuff, but suitable enough to jump in the car and head out for an hour of two. I’d already planned on a destination in the event of going out, and so off I went to Sheffield’s canal basin and wharf, now known as Victoria Quays (presumably because they lie just below the site of the former Victoria Station and adjacent Royal Victoria Hotel.
I took a couple of cameras with me – the Yashica Mat 124 G, and a Minolta Hi-Matic G2 that I’ve been chucking in my pocket when I go out, and I’ll split the results over a few blog posts as I get round to uploading the photos (12 frames from the Yashica, and 24 from the Minolta – although not all the Minolta shots were from Sunday).
I parked the car in the multi-storey adjacent to the canal basin. The last time I parked here I made the mistake of trying to use the lift / stairwell to get to ground level, only to discover the lifts to be out of service, all other doors locked, and the entire area stinking like something from hell that had been slowly baking in the heat radiating through the glass windows. This time, for the sake of my nose, I parked on a lower floor and just walked down the ramps..
The exit near where I was parked opened onto the north quay, a pleasant, cobbled area with benches looking out onto the canal basin and backed onto shops built into stone arches. Most of the shops appear to be disused at present, although there is a cafe that was making the most of the passing trade, and a number of people were sat outside with coffees and ice-creams. It’s a shame that more of the shops are not in use, but I think that the conversion of a lot of the surrounding buildings to residential units has perhaps not taken off as much as the developers hoped, and so there is not enough passing footfall at present. It’s a shame as it’s a nice enough place, but it’s a little off the beaten track from the town centre.
I decided to look around the wharf area first, and it’s the shots that I took there that will be shown in this post. The canal basin shots will come in another post, and then maybe a couple more containing the Hi-Matic shots.
The first shot I took was of the Straddle Wharf building itself. I’d have liked to have gotten more of the building in shot, but the fixed focal length of the lens, and lack of other vantage points meant this was the best I could get. I’ve cropped the shot slightly to remove a bit of sky at top-right, and I like the skewed symmetry that now results between the light and dark sections of the shot.
The next shot was taken a few metres from the first, this time looking in the opposite direction towards Merchant’s Crescent, a terrace of houses originally inhabited ny coal merchants, but not re-developed into residential units. Again, this is cropped (to 6:4.5 ratio this time), partly to remove a small wedge of a building that encroached from the left of the image, and also because I didn’t feel the large expanse of mostly clear sky added anything to the top of the frame. I don’t mind negative space, but it wasn’t doing anything for me here. Sadly, I think the crop is now a little too tight at the left of the frame, but there was nothing much I could do with it apart from removing large chunks of stuff with Photoshop. Lesson for self – pay better attention to the viewfinder next time, eh?!
Walking past Merchant’s Crescent brings you to the front of the Grain Warehouse, where the next two shots were taken. The first is of a ninety-year-old weighbridge. I liked the way that the sun was casting the manufacturer’s mark into relief. I’d have preferred a shallower depth of field for this shot but the brightness of the sun meant I could only open up to f/8 before the combination of the Yashica’s 1/500sec maximum shutter speed and the Fomapan 200 film would have resulted in overexposure (what was I saying about dull weather before..?). The second, is the front of the Grain Warehouse itself. This is another building that is currently in the process of some renovation, but it thankfully retains signs of its former purpose. Again, the sunlight provided plenty of contrast in this shot, and a smaller aperture was no disadvantage here.
The final shot of this post was taken just around the corner from the last two and is a door and window in the Grain Warehouse. I don’t think I would have considered the shot had it not been for the shovel and length of rebar resting against the wall beside the door, which adds interest. The door has a plate beside it reading “The White House”, but I have no idea why – the building is neither white, nor a house. This is definitely my favourite shot of this batch though.
And that’s it. I’ll post about the remaining seven shots from this roll in a day or three’s time. Bye for now!