4 November 2016
I took a short 3 day break in Dorset and stayed in Swanage. I had recently bought a book on the subject of composition (Richard Garvey-Williams "Mastering Composition") attracted by the long exposure cover photograph of a ruined pier. I had no idea where in the world this pier was so imagine my surprise when I discovered that it was situated in Swanage and only a few hundred yards from the hotel I had booked. I now knew of at least one photographic venue I would be taking advantage of during my trip.
Research on Google Earth soon revealed that, for much of the year, the view of the ruined pier is spoilt by a local diving club securing pontoons to the pier. Fortunately I was visiting late in the season and when I arrived there was actually a crane removing the last of the pontoons and securing them to the roof of the diving centre. I actually had to make my way around the crane to reach the optimum point for viewing the old pier.
For the benefit of photographers visiting Swanage in order to take photos of the old pier I list below a number of points:
- During the warmer months the views of the old pier are restricted by pontoons and boats
- The classic view of the pier ruins is from half way along the new pier. This is privately owned and there is a charge of 90p for admission. The new pier is closed at night.
- If you have a Big Stopper type filter this is a great subject for its use. The smoothing out of the waves makes the wooden structure stand out like an abstract sculpture
- It is possible to take a photograph incorporating both the remains of the old [pier together with the end of the new pier. This makes for a good contrast of subjects
- The pier is a subject that looks equally good in black and white or colour
- I had dull overcast weather when I photographed the pier but I imagine it can look good in all manner of weather, including rain
If you find yourself in Swanage do visit the old pier - it is worth the effort.