Open Water Swimming, Photography and ….

by Anthony Wood.

Cold Water Mornings is my black and white film photography project.  It’s a kind of portrait of the Serpentine Swimming Club in Hyde Park, London. Mostly  I’ll be writing about the photography project and about swimming at the Serpentine.

I’ve been a Serpentine Swimming Club member and regular swimmer since April 2017 and the photography project began on 1st January 2020.

It was important to me to be a swimmer taking photographs not the other way round. The swimming compromises the photography at times and the photography compromises the swimming and I live with that.  The photography project will continue through 2021.

Photos on Insta: @coldwatermornings add another page.

I live in West London with Sally, we’re married and have two adult sons ( …and we’re soon to be empty nesters). I started taking photographs over 40 years ago when I was 15. I’m not a professional photographer but my job as a freelance lighting camera person has a fair bit of cross over. I like portraiture and a wide range of styles but most of what I shoot is documentary in essence. If I had to pick one photographer who’s influenced me it would be Sebastio Salgado. I love the poetic quality of his work especially the book “An Uncertain Grace”.

Although I’ll be writing about photography, it’s worth saying that I’m not so much of a camera geek. If your interest is in the relative merits of the focusing system on the A9 Mk111 or if a Nikon is better than Canon for portraiture  – I’m probably the wrong person to ask. I’ll write about camera equipment and f stops a bit though and hopefully in plain language.

I admire people with lots of technical knowledge and often consult them. I just can’t remember stuff.

To further define myself by things I’m not; I’m not someone who thinks film is better than digital or that this camera is “better” than that one.  I can equally love a photo taken on a phone as on the best of cameras.

The reason for shooting on film was decided on a whim and is pretty straight forward.  I didn’t wish to visit the Serpentine, have a swim, shoot 300 or 400 hundred frames then spend several hours hunched over a computer sorting them all out. I didn’t want to end up with a stack of hard drives with thousands of photos and for the post production work at a computer to be the greater part of the experience.

Shooting film slows me down, forces me to think, to plan, to consider and in some cases miss things. There is an element of craft to it that I enjoy and I happen to own a few old film cameras and lenses collected over the years.  I’d been meaning to blow the dust off  them for some time and this project brings them  back to life.

If it’s of interest the cameras are Mamaiya RZ67, Leica M6, Nikon FM2 and a recently purchased second hand Nikonos V  – but not all at the same time. Yes I’ll admit to being a bit in love with the Nikonos …so maybe skip that blog post when it comes up.

As consistency has never been a strong point I take some pleasure in having reached the one year mark with the photography project. I pat myself on the back.

In 2021 I’ll be shooting less but swimming more.

Much as I love swimming and the deep connection with nature I feel whilst swimming outdoors …I’m not very good at it. Slow awkward, a bit clumsy and not very stream lined.

Wish me luck …

…and thank you for reading the blog.

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