Hasselblad 501c | 80mm Zeiss Lens | Ilford Delta ISO 100 | Exposure f22 @ 60 Seconds | © James Gray
In the 1900s Welsh coal was known throughout the world, it was considered the best of the best. Ships from all over the world would come to Cardiff to fill their holds with the stuff. Roll forward a hundred years, more or less, and things have moved on. This area of Cardiff became known worldwide as Tiger Bay. The area is in ruins, and the coal is gone, and the ships retired. All that is left is the murky mud flats visible twice a day at low tide, and the old wooden remains of what used to be the quays that the ships loaded up alongside.
To regenerate the area in the 1990s, the UK Government pumped money to transform from the industrial past into a vibrant future based on shopping, tourism, restaurants and bars. One part of this major plan that has seen Cardiff rise in the ranks to become one of the top cities to live and work in the UK was the building of a barrage across the mouth of the River Taff to form Cardiff Bay.
At the same time, I was doing a City & Guilds photography course on Black and White Landscape.
I wanted to take pictures before the flooding of the mudflats for posterity. I wanted to contrast the old with the new. A new hotel by the Rocco Forte Hotel group was in the process of building Cardiff’s first 5-star hotel, and the mudflats were in the foreground, making a great composition. I took the photograph of the Norwegian Church at the same time, and a few others that I’ve still yet to scan and upload…but I will, in time.
I took this with a Hasselblad camera mounted on a tripod for a long exposure of around one minute at f16/f22. I wanted to set the aperture right down to get as many star lights as possible, and luckily the lights on the hotel construction provided just that.
The clouds provide just the right amount of movement, and there’s plenty of drama in the foreground, and the two cranes were in perfect position.
It was always one of my favourite pictures and looking back on it still is..!
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