back to the beach

When I went to Splendour in the Grass in 2009, I was lucky enough to be staying right by the beach, and I took some incredibly vibrant colour (slide) photos while I was there that captured the beautiful blues and yellows of the sunny Australian shore. Though this year I camped on-site at the festival, I did manage to glimpse the Queensland ocean when we took a seaside detour on the way to Brisbane airport.

Whenever I am at a beach - and especially in sunny conditions - I am always tempted to take photos. I think there's something about the colours of the landscape that inspire many people to capture beach scenes, and they often do so beautifully. In spite (or because) of this, I made the decision to capture this particular stretch of sand using black and white film.

I didn't expect to like the results - I mean, my past beach photos have been successful largely because of the colour. I anticipated a mass of indistinguishable greys, completely uninteresting to the eye. And in one sense, that's what I got; these images don't have much definition at all, in terms of colour or shape. And they're not even level! However, there is definitely an element of charm to them. With the faded shades, the poor focus and the powerfully obvious vignetting, these photos are strongly reminiscent of some lost era - the days before people took colour photos, and camera technology was in its infancy. I know plastic camera photography often has this effect, but I don't believe any of my other photos have ever evoked it so strongly. Why? Because to shoot the beach devoid of colour seems like a waste. Like something one would only do if colour wasn't widely available - say, in the 1920s. Ridiculous? Yes. But it's the only way I can explain the impression these images leave on me. Will I shoot the beach in black and white again? Maybe. But I don't know that I will be able to once more resist capturing those beautiful colours...

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