She couldn’t wait to get home to tell her mum and dad that she had proper job at last. She’d be able to contribute to her keep and she could start reducing her credit card bill. The news would also delight her dad, who never failed, each day, to ask what progress she was making with job-hunting. It wasn’t that he was tight-fisted, but he was concerned that, at her age, she had nothing to show prospective employers that she was worth giving a chance.
Mel Harrington had been one of the most popular pupils in her class at the comprehensive academy school. She was outgoing, friendly and usually a happy girl. She was also clever and an able student. Her interest in photography arose from her eagerness to learn.
One February afternoon, in 2005, fifteen years old Mel was sitting in Mr Waring’s physics class when he made an announcement that was to change her life. Towards the close of the lesson he asked the class to read the notice that he was pinning to the room’s noticeboard before they left for the mid-afternoon break between lessons..
Most of her classmates stampeded out into the corridor, but Mel and a couple of others, gathered around to see what the notice was about. There was to be an after-school meeting of the Science Club on the Thursday afternoon – two days away. Mr Waring would be doing an illustrated talk about Light and Photography. Mel had a bit of a crush on Mr Waring, so she decided to attend.
At the meeting, he began by talking about the movement of the Sun and how the angle at which it’s light passes through the Earth’s atmosphere leads to refraction. He went on to explain how morning light is usually bluer in tone than evening light. He spoke of golden hours and blue hours and the relative softness of light at those hours compared with harsh mid-day light and its hard shadows. He explained how photographers used these changes in light to create moods. The photographs he showed to illustrate his talk fascinated Mel. She asked a lot of questions afterwards.
The teacher, recognising the genuine interest of Mel and a couple of other pupils, prompted him to invite up to three of them to join him on a trip to the Lake District during the mid-term holiday. He had to visit the place that would be providing accommodation for the school’s Easter adventure trip. He told them to bring a camera – if they had one – to learn about using both light and composition to get better photos. Mel was the first to volunteer. Mel’s dad lent her one of his cameras after spending an entire Saturday afternoon showing her how to use it. He made her promise to look after it because it was one that he used for his job.
There were just two of the pupils with Mr Waring on the outing, Mel and her friend Stacy. They arrived at their destination mid-morning on that bright but cold February Saturday. The girls went with him to the Centre, but once the teacher had confirmed the arrangements and checked the accommodation, he drove them to the Tarn Hows National Trust car park.
The walk around the lake and through woodland offered a variety of viewpoints for photography and Mr Waring coached them in the skills of framing focusing and exposing their shots. He related focusing to ideas he’d explained in class about lenses and optics. The outing was a revelation to Mel. She made her mind up during that outing – she wanted to become a photographer when she left school. On the journey home she plied her teacher with a barrage of questions about careers in photography and qualifications required.
I’ll stick with the Crosby beach set of photos for a couple more days. In this third of Anthony Gormley’s Iron Men statue series, the shot is more of a close-up – I used a longer focal length – and the Sun has almost completely set. The damage of time and the sea can be seen in terms of the roughness of the statue’s surface. Close to where the Sun is shown, you may see a second Iron Man in the distance.
For this photo, I used my 36 MP full-frame Pentax K-1 again with a Pentax 24-70 mm f/2.8 full-frame lens at 70 mm and f/8. The shutter speed was 1/8 secs and the ISO was 100. The camera was tripod mounted.