Scarborough West Pier, Harbour, and Castle

See the full photo set from this shoot up on Flickr.

My wife and I have this tradition. We each take the other out for a meal on their birthday. When Kristi asked me where I’d like to go for my birthday meal this year, I’m sure she was expecting me to name one of our usual restaurants. So you can imagine the surprise when I said that, this year, I wanted fishcake and chips from the Fish Pan chippy on Scarborough’s sea front.

I reckon it’s almost impossible to grow up in Yorkshire and not visit the seaside town of Scarborough at least once in your childhood. Scarborough is perhaps the very first seaside resort in the whole UK, boasting not only one of the first purpose built hotels in Europe, but (in its time) also one of the largest. But people had been coming to Scarborough for centuries before the Victorians brought their trains there, thanks to the waters of the Scarborough Spa.

Today, Scarborough is trying to recapture the successes of old. The old Victorian promenade which links the popular South Bay (where the hotels and arcades are) with the sadly run-down North Bay (home of the Sea Life Centre) has been rebuilt, and the South Bay is currently undergoing a 2.8 million regeneration.

Aim Of The Shoot

There was a recent FlickrBlog article showcasing photographs from the MSC Napoli’s beaching on the Dorset coast. Looking at these photos made me realise that the photos I’d taken with the D200 towards the end of 2006 just weren’t sharp enough. Looking at the EXIF data from Leon’s photos, I noticed that he’d consistently shot at high shutter speeds, and I was determined to try this approach and see what came of it.

Thoughts On The Day

Having arrived early Saturday evening, it was up and out early on the Sunday to catch the dawn. Not the time of day that one normally finds the Stuart creature out of his lair! Although I started out just after 7am, heading out to the Spa Footbridge across Valley Road, the light didn’t really appeal to me until around 9:30 am – at which point Kristi was keen for me to come back to our excellent hotel so that we could go for breakfast.

Heading out once more that morning, we were greeted by what must rank as the most surreal sight of the weekend. Along with many other folks, we watched in surprise as two lovely young ladies walked down onto the beach in what appeared to be wedding dresses, closely followed by a photographer, his assistant (poor chap spent the entire time being blown about by the reflector he was holding), and assorted family members. Alas, the only lens I had with me was a fixed 50mm, so I couldn’t get a wide variety of shots – I think it’s time to start looking for a high-quality 18-200 lens!

Unusually for me, I switched over to manual focus early on. I’ve not had a lot of success with manual focusing in the past with the Nikon D100, but the D200 features an excellent viewfinder which is both larger and much brighter. I didn’t achieve the sharpness I was looking for from my 80-400mm lens (probably because I was using this lens predominantly in the pre-dawn light), but I’m very happy indeed with the shots taken with the 50mm lens.

Favourite Photo From The Shoot

Dawn Walk On The South BeachThis is a tough one. I came away with several images that I’m really happy with. In the end, I’m going to go for this shot of the family walking on the beach at dawn. For me, it perfectly sums up the relaxing weekend that we enjoyed up in Scarborough.

Close runners up are this view of Scarborough’s South Bay, the impending Martian invasion, and fishing nets.

What’s your favourite photo from the shoot? List your favourites in the comments below.

Three Tips From The Shoot

  • You’ll always want a zoom lens when you don’t have one. I left mine in the hotel room when we ventured out after breakfast, and it was left to Kristi to take this excellent close-up of one of the two girls modelling down on the beach. A shame that Nikon’s 18-200 VR lens is so difficult to get hold of in the UK, as it would fit the bill perfectly.
  • You can’t predict when the best light will come, so get out there early, and make sure you can stay out there to make the most of it. Unfortunately, the best light didn’t arrive until just before half past nine in the morning – much later than I’d expected – and by then I was already heading back to the hotel before they finished serving breakfast.
  • Don’t just walk around turning your head left and right. Look up. Look down. Look in places you wouldn’t normally give a second glance to. Then go back and find another way to look at it. Show others what you’re doing, and above all else listen to them. They might just get what you’re trying to do better than you do.

Post Production

This shoot has left me with more questions than answers. Shooting at higher shutter speeds has – as it should – resulted in sharp images that I’m much happier with. But I’m still left with plenty of images that didn’t come out sharp. I’ll be wading through the EXIF data for a few nights to come trying to figure out why.

I didn’t achieve any sharp shots with the 80-400mm lens. This was probably caused by shooting in low light, and without a cable release. Hopefully we’ll have a bright sunny day one weekend soon, and then I can get some practice in to improve my technique.

I’ve also added a very useful step to my workflow to ensure that the colour in my photos is accurately show whether the photo is being viewed by something that supports colour spaces (Safari, Preview) or not (Firefox, IE). I’ll post more about this in a follow-up blog article.

Flickr Favourites

Here’s a few photos that I like of Scarborough from other folks on Flickr.

Seen a photograph of Scarborough on Flickr that you like? List it in the comments below.


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January 2007
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