I was delighted to be able to finish off a long term project the other day, photographing the team at AA Coombes boatbuilders for their website, www.aacoombes.co.uk. It had been a long term commission covering all aspects of their services from storage and maintenance to launching and moorings, but it was the group shot that had so far eluded us.
Finding a suitable time to gather together a group of people in a busy boat yard was never going to be easy. After all, in fine weather everyone wants to launch their boat and its only in the murk of winter when there is poor light for photography that things start to slow down a touch.
November isn’t exactly the ideal month in which to take outside portraits, particularly as darkness descends early and the weather is generally overcast/grey/wet or with variations along that depressing theme. So when the sun shone and it proved to be the warmest Hallowe’en since records began I had every reason to be delighted. The AA Coombes staff were present and ready to roll and Bembridge Harbour was set to provide a decent backdrop, so I quickly set up the location.
The idea was to use a combination of ambient light flash but, rather embarrassingly for a sailing man, I hadn’t reckoned on the light breeze interfering with my set. One of my flash umbrellas was situated opposite the entrance to the quay, between two sheds which effectively funnelled the light breeze into a jet stream. With just one puff of wind my umbrella quickly dispensed with the brick that I’d used to weigh it down, and was preparing to launch itself into Bembridge Harbour.
The question that flitted briefly through my mind was, would I have dived in after it? Probably. I’ve had spinnakers that have set less effectively; in fact the next time I race I’m going to take my flash umbrella with me and ditch the spinny.
For fear of losing one of my Olympus flashguns I opted for umbrellaless (is that really a word?) flash and a slightly harsher lighting set-up. However, with the combination of a clear day, bright sun and two remote flashguns I was happy with the end result.