• Mark Wylie

Rangefinder diaries #1

One of the nice things about using a rangefinder camera is that they make for a small and unobtrusive system. People don’t often take too much notice of it, and when they do they are often mostly intrigued by an 'old' looking camera.


I thought that I would do a series about some of the images that I have taken with a rangefinder camera. Each time, I will take one image and talk about the context around the image and why I think it works for me. I thought that I would start with this recent image taken during the last few weeks in Bournemouth.


I came across this scene whilst working on my recent project that documents the life in south coast towns out of the main summer season. When I arrived in Bournemouth it was foggy and damp. I usually head down to the pier before deciding which way to walk along the coast. On this occasion I spotted the man swimming in the sea and I thought that he would make an interesting image. People will often swim in the sea during the winter months when the water is not too rough.


As I headed down to the beach to compose an image, two men arrived on the scene. They were just walking and talking on the coast and the man in the middle stated taking a few photos of the misty pier on his phone. Whilst I thought that they also might make an interesting subject, my main focus was still the swimmer. However, soon afterwards the swimmer started to come out of the sea. As the water is shallow, it took him some time to exit the water, meaning that I had a reasonable amount of time to compose this image.


I decided that I wanted the two men to be at the centre of the image, with the swimmer emerging from the water. I used the groyne to balance out the image and provide an additional piece of information about the nature of the beach that we were all standing on.

I like this image as it hints at a potential relationship between the three men. The swimmer is seemingly heading towards them and the men look like they are waiting for him. This could then beg the question as to why they would be waiting for him to come out of the water. Of course, as the image has an ambivalence, they could equally not know each other at all.

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