Newcastle Quayside Night Photography and my Photographic Beginnings

26th July 2013
One of the reasons I originally started gaining an interest photography was after looking through some of the photographs from around the Newcastle Quayside from both during the day and when lit up at night, in particular shots from Graeme Peacock who at the time had photographs in nearly every Tourism and University brochure showing the area. Another photographer who had a great portfolio of images from Newcastle is Steve Mayes, I remember seeing his black and white prints at the Biscuit Factory Art Gallery and thinking this is something that I would like to get involved with.

An early Nickscape architecture shot - the Newcastle Quayside from the Swing Bridge - taken with the Fuji S5000

It was whilst living in Newcastle that I bought my first camera, this was back in 2004 when I purchased a Fujifilm S5000 bridge camera, this was my first experience of photography and from then on I have been hooked! Starting out it is hugely important to learn all about exposure, aperture and ISO which can be quite daunting but with a lots of practice and experimentation things gradually over time become clearer and you learn how everything merges together to create a photograph. Working out what camera controls to use for different lighting conditions is particularly difficult but once you know how the camera is likely to react you can adjust your settings to make the most of the light. The Fuji camera was a great little camera and was a good tool to learn on; it had full manual controls which let me experiment with shutter speeds and apertures. The quality out of the camera was ok at the time but as soon as you start to move up camera ranges you quickly see the differences.

Gateshead Millennium Bridge - Newcastle Gateshead Quayside - one of my first outings with the Nikon D50

At Christmas 2005 I purchased my first SLR camera, a Nikon D50 with a Sigma 18-200, the step up in quality of the Fuji was remarkable. It was with this camera that I started to take Seascape photos along the Northumberland Coast and expanded my portfolio of images from around the Newcastle Quayside, with the Nikon D50 I was able to replicate images of the Quayside which proved to be a really useful learning tool.

The Quayside has a host of different architecture and viewpoints from which to shoot, the classic shots including the Tyne Bridge and the Gateshead Millennium Bridge appear regularly in photographs and they are truly photogenic and even better to look at in real life. As the light levels drop in the sky the artificial lighting around the Newcastle Quayside comes on to create a beautiful balance between natural and artificial light. The tide level of the Tyne can make a difference to your shots as the water levels in the river vary throughout the day, high tide of often best as the reflections are near to the level of the banks, at low tide it can be difficult to make the scene complete as there are often large areas of exposed river bank and the reflections do not quite meant their origins as they are too far away.

Tyne Bridge - Newcastle Gateshead Quayside

The view of the Baltic Arts Centre looking across the Millennium Bridge is a particular favourite of mine; the curves on the bridge look amazing when they are lit up at night. It’s hard to go wrong with photos down here, some nights the conditions are amazing and the light bounces around the quayside. It's difficult to take sharp photo's from the Millennium Bridge as it vibrates with people walking along it so long exposures become difficult, there is a great shot if you stand right in the middle of the bridge looking up the river towards the Tyne Bridge but you will need to take a few exposures and hope one of them is sharp enough.

Gateshead Millennium Bridge & the Baltic Arts Centre - taken with the Fuji S5000

During my time in Newcastle the high level bridge was undergoing refurbishment and so I never had the chance to get up there to photograph the view looking down the River Tyne. The nearest I got was shooting at river level from outside the nightclub looking towards the Swing Bridge with the famous Newcastle Tyne Bridge in the background.

Newcastle Swing Bridge & Tyne Bridge

In the years since leaving Newcastle I have stuck with the Nikon camera brand and upgraded first to a second hand Nikon D200 and at Christmas this year to a Nikon D7000. As technology moves on I have found I can effectively purchase down a level of camera to the more prosumer aimed D7000 but have benefited from all of the features that have been developed in recent years in a less expensive package, the D7000 is far better than my ageing Nikon D200. I also made the decision to thin out my photographic gear and go back to a minimum of bulk which makes things much easier these days, carrying all the gear was getting annoying and put me off photography trips on a couple of occassions. I sold 4 of my lenses and invested in a used Nikon 17-55mm f2.8 to go with the new Nikon D7000, I no longer needed such a big rucksack to carry all of the camera gear so now have a Lowepro Flipside 200 which fits in everything that I need. I now have a lightweight camera gear set up which I can take up hills and carry around without any difficulty. I took the decision to only have one lens partly due to the constant f2.8 capability of the Nikon 17-55 lens but also without the need to change lenses I would no longer need to spend money on sensor cleaning and hours spent removing dirt spots and dust bunnies in Photoshop. Obviously I am not limited to 55mm but in the months since christmas I haven't been in a situation where I have missed a shot, I now use my legs a little more to move position. The files that come out of my camera now only need a few tweaks and they are finished, this change has dramatically reduced the amount of Photoshop hours which gives me more time to write blog posts and enables me to take on other photography work.

About Nick
Nick Cockman is a digital photographer from Sheffield specialising in Landscape, Seascape & Architecture photography.

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