Hastings Pier – The story of the photograph (and photographer!)

Welcome to the first of a new regular feature I’m starting on this blog! I began a keen interest in photography about twenty years ago, and when I was seventeen I spent a stupid amount of money in credit interest buying my first SLR from a catalogue! I practiced a lot and took five GNVQ courses in photography at college in the evenings when my babies were little. I thought I’d go over some of my favourite photographs from back then and more recently, and tell you a little about how, when and where they were taken. The first is this one of Hastings Pier, which was in my very first exhibition….

The best thing about this exhibition was the mayor was there; the local press were there and wine and nibbles were handed round and everyone was dressed up. The worst thing was, I knew absolutely nothing about it because for some reason my phone number wasn’t in the college records. So my tutor framed my photos and hung them for me, but I never got to see them in the exhibition. I was so gutted when I found out!

The class had had a weekend day trip to Hastings to take photographs, and luckily the weather was ok – a little meh – not much in the way of sky interest, but at least it didn’t rain. I wondered around with a friend; accidentally got caught up in a funeral on the beach; and of course ate fish and chips for lunch.

The camera that took me two years to pay for, was a Minolta Dynax 500si with a 35-70mm kit lens. That camera meant a lot to me – as did the 75-300mm lens my parents bought me for my eighteenth birthday. Ahh, those were the days! Unfortunately, those were the days that unless you wrote down the settings in a notebook, you have no way of knowing what f-stop or speed you set the camera at. I’m afraid I don’t even know what brand of black and white film it was shot on – probably whatever was the cheapest at the time, but I’m pretty sure it was iso 1200.

So this post might appeal to all you film-toting hipsters out there, but future blog posts of this variety are likely to include digital settings easily got at from a right-click of a mouse. So these two black and white photos were then processed and printed by me at college the good old-fashioned way with chemicals, a dark-room and silver paper and I’ve scanned them to show you. I really enjoyed it and we even set up a dark-room in the corner of our bedroom using a cupboard the school we worked at were chucking away. I still have an enlarger and all the equipment in the roof as I can’t bring myself to get rid of it!

Back to Hastings. For this second picture I set up the tripod on the pier and waited for the crowds to thin a little, and took this where I thought the curve of the buildings at the entrance to pier would be interesting. I have several prints where I was trying to get the exposure correct – I remember waving two pieces of card under the enlarger to reduce the light on the sky to bring out the detail. The college kept the only one I managed to do just right. This is the next best; though you can see where the sky is still too light at the sides.

Hastings Pier

Hastings Pier

The following photos are from scanning negatives; so I processed the film manually, but either never printed them or they’ve got lost. I’ve tweaked a few in Lightroom. My goodness it’s a hell of a lot easier (and cheaper) nowadays!

Do you know Hastings Pier? Do you remember it like this? Sadly it suffered to fire a few years ago, but is being re-built and is due to open this summer.

Art and craft, Photography,
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Writer, pyrographer, renovator, crafter, photographer and maker of bohemian clothing and costumes.

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