At the pier, 1980s…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s carefully selected adjectives are: tepid, bogus, mnemotechnic, retrousse, suffruticose, varved, and bulbous. I really must try to slip ‘mnemotechnic’ into my conversation today.

EPSON scanner imageHere’s a picture from my days of old-style, black and white, 35mm film, and stinky darkroom, photography; it probably dates from the 1980s.
It was taken down at the Corporation Pier here in Hull, on the River Humber; there used to be a ferry crossing to the south bank from here before the big bridge was built. (I once had a temporary job at the pier; tying up the ferry when it came in, and letting it go again when it wanted to go out – here is a useful tip: when you are doing such things it is very bad form to let the big thick rope dip into the water and get wet – people shout and swear at you if you do…)
Anyway, here’s a nice old Hull lady enjoying the sunshine and the breeze off the river on a pleasant Sunday afternoon. Perhaps this isn’t such a great photo, but I do warm to it because of her posture; feet together, hands together, headscarf to keep the gusts from fluffing her hair about. Isn’t she great?…
Also, I quite like the empty crisp packet on the right, stuck in a cup to prevent it blowing away, and how about the woman looking towards us on the seat behind? The way her hand is poised, finger to her lip, and with her curly hair, she has I think, the look of a thoughtful cherub from an old master painting. (cherub)
It’s a bit late in the day to start being critical, but I wish that I had managed get more of the girl on the left (also with fingers to mouth) with her wind-blown hair into the composition. (Do you think that these people could be three generations of one family?)
Ah, tell you what; I think I might try cropping the picture to give the girl a little bit more ‘presence’, it will mean losing the lower part of the old lady though. Do tell me which version you prefer…

EPSON scanner image

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
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12 Responses to At the pier, 1980s…

  1. luke610 says:

    I like the longer version, so you can see her lovely peep toe sandals – she’s wearing stockings hey? Lovely evocative photo. But geez this post brought back some memories – when you mentioned the ferry, I found a photo of the old building in Wawne (as I remember it) right at the bottom of this page :
    Those days are long gone …

  2. This is a cracking photo, and the two ladies are lost in thought in their own ways. I think the fingerlip lady is wondering what the older one is thinking, and the older lady is wondering how n earth she managed to find herself in such uncouth company with people playing with their faces. After all, she was brought up never to touch your face unless using a lacy hankerchief. If this were my photo, I would probably try and focus on the two faces and crop the rest. But thats just my opinion. 🙂

    • Dave Whatt says:

      Thank you my dear Scribbler! Yes, I know what you mean about the faces – oh, I wish there had been more of the young lass on the left.
      The trouble is, if I cropped it down to just the faces the film grain would start to show up a bit too much.

  3. Jheron Bash says:

    Now there’s a teaser and no mistake. And already you’ve got two opposing opinions. Will you try the scribbleartie crop though? Myself, I think I’d go for the ‘validity’ of the original. The sandals, teacup and crisp-bag have it! I think the bench seat is quite important too. What a pity you can’t crop in bits of real life that are gone forever, like the girl. What a sci-fi editor that would be!

    • Dave Whatt says:

      My Dear Jheron,
      ‘The Scribbleartie crop’ – see my response to the Scribbler – it would be far too grainy and it would look pretty rough – it would have been a very nice picture though. And how about my Pontormo reference in reply to DM and DD?…

  4. Dana Doran says:

    The position of the girl’s fingers (the girl on the left Dave) reminded me of that iconic look of worry captured by Dorothea Lange (you know the one, the photograph of that depression era mother with two of her children – it might be called “pea pickers”). Therefore, I equate this pose to one of an overwhelming fear of the unknown….this was heightened when you cropped off the feet of the resolutely stern calmness of the central character….I assign to her the perceived rights of her age….I’ve seen it all, you do know what I carry a bag full of nickels don’t you? Just try it…..I might look old, but, I’m treacherous. And then of course, the woman on the right fears the feistiness of the aged…and not any possible threat posed by a photographer obviously infringing on their right to sit on a bench and enjoy the sun….hahahaha. I’m sure the woman on the right was thinking, gosh, if I would have know someone was going to take my photo today, I would have done something about this frizzy hair! A very nice triangle is formed between the three sets of hands…which keeps my eye exploring. The cropping makes the photo more of story, it heightens the angst proposed by those hand gestures. But, then again, 50% of the time, I’m clearly wrong!

  5. Hi. The expression of the kerchiefed main lady is riveting. That “don’t care what you think” vibe is always alluring. My vote is for the uncropped version– mainly because the standing mysterious figure in front looks more intentional. But I also like scribbleartie’s suggestion.

  6. David Manley says:

    My two-pennorth…keep the feet (and stuff)…lovely image reminds me of Mrs. Mounter at the breakfast table by Harold Gilman – though her head is tilted the other way!

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