The Humber Bridge

We decided to go to Hull; well, why wouldn’t you?! “From Hell, Hull and Halifax may the good Lord deliver us” runs the old spoof litany which no longer really reflects the character of a least two of those places! It’s to be the “City of Culture” in a year or two, it has an ancient maritime history and a big marina – it has to be worth a visit, camera in hand.

Our route passed by the northern end of the Humber Bridge, and we reckoned that had to be worth a detour, as indeed it was. There is a “Humber Bridge Country Park” there which gives access down to the foreshore and the possibility of seeing the bridge from both sides (useful in the bright morning sun) and indeed from underneath. There are also stairs – to be exploited on another visit – up to the carriageway itself, with the interesting prospect of walking its length (twice, obviously!).

So we walked around and under the northern end of this remarkable structure and snapped away. In “post production” I found myself almost immediately up against the evident arrogance of supposing that I could just walk up to such an object and make good pictures. It really needs and needed much more preparation, and at the very least called for the camera to be sat on a tripod with time for reflection about settings, viewpoints and so on. The sheer length of the span from tower to tower is enormous and poses real questions of perspective.

After a frustrating hour at the computer I decided that I needed to simplify my expectations (or junk the lot!), and that this collection of architectural lines and curves set against a blue and cloudy sky with occasional foregrounds of tree branches, needed to be in monochrome. That improved things (at least to my eye).

Two things in particular came into play. First the drama caused by a high contrast (not HDR incidentally) black and white image which sets concrete and steel against the sheer blackness of a monochrome blue sky and the sheer whiteness of clouds. That demands simplicity and amply rewards it.

Second, the power of Lightroom to deal with the visual distortion of long perspective through the “manual” department of its Lens Correction tools. Using these in conjunction with each other enabled me (I think) to produce images that work I assume by doing in the image that which my brain performs unconsciously when I look across the width of the river to the far tower.

Two lessons then. Firstly to prepare and to take time to think “before I shoot”. Secondly to really learn how to use Lightroom – in the same way that a good darkroom practitioner would have used the facilities of his / her darkroom. “Get it right in the camera” – yes, I’ll go with that as a fundamental maxim – but also know how to make the best of what is recorded by those megapixels!

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