Taking The Wind Out Of My Sails
These shots were taken exactly a week ago, at lunchtime last Friday. I’ve been wanting to do something different for this theme for a while and I realised that if I took a long walk past the Melbourne Exhibition Centre, I would be able to get some unusual sky shots with the rigging of a genuine sailing vessel.
The Polly Woodside is a great Melbourne landmark. She was a 19th-century vessel built in Belfast, Ireland by the shipbuilders Workman Clark & Co Ltd. The story behind her name is interesting, because the Irish owner, William Woodside, named her after his wife. But here’s an interesting twist. His wife’s name was Marian, although her nickname was Polly, hence the vessel’s name.
In the early Seventies, she was restored to be a museum ship for The National Trust. As I approached her from a distance, I was struck by the thought that I’d never photographed an actual sailing ship before. Modern vessels, yes. Yachts, yes. Ocean liners, yes. But sailing ships that actually operate under wind power? Make that a big no.
However, these shots proved slightly more challenging that I first thought. I had forgotten – or perhaps I just did not know – that the vessel was actually in dry dock. For starters, this meant that you couldn’t just rock up, walk around and take a number and walk aboard. I was restricted to shooting outside the barriers, of course, so I had to be creative with the way I interpreted the sight through my lens.
The winter sky was mainly grey, but there were some strong patches of sunshine, which made for very interesting light conditions. These shots were taken from the beautiful prow, looking back over the main mast.
I guess in retrospect it’s an interesting view because the sails were not actually hoisted – which in turn means that the rigging is the central focus. There was no shortage of perspective, because the main mast is estimated to be as tall as a 10-storey building.
This final shot was taken from near the stern of the sailing ship. I had the camera slung over my shoulder when I saw the single gull flying towards me. Raising the camera as quickly as I could and without any time to check the settings, I just hit the trigger as quickly as I could.
As you can see, I just about managed to get the gull in the frame and I actually think the low, long silhouette of the building on the left adds an interesting counterpoint to the graceful geometry of the Polly Woodside.
For other participants in Dot’s concept, go to Sky Watch HQ.