Timelapse Photography (1)

(Click on a thumbnail picture to open the gallery and see larger images)

Hello again to all my readers, this week I have something new for you.

I will still be pursuing the Tower Clocks in the weeks that lie ahead, however an opportunity arose that I had to grab with both hands!

While looking for Tower Clocks last week I photographed the Clock Tower in the waterfront. While there we saw a ship in a dry dock. Curious I asked one of the dock workers about it and he told me that in a weeks time they would be flooding the dock and towing the vessel out after it’s refit was completed.

I contacted the Dockmaster, a certain Mr Gouws, who it now turns out is the Chief Dockmaster. He gave me permission to take photographs of the operation – I should just remain in touch to find out when exactly it would happen.

So on Fri 27th, my wife and I traipsed into the dockyard area ready for the shoot. I went to look for Mr Gouws to find out about the time and met instead the Dockmaster for that area, Mr. Ricardo Jacobs. After taking my details and verifying my story he also gave me permission to do the photoshoot.

The day was a fantastic summers day in Cape Town. It was hot, and not even the slightest  of breezes was present to cool the air. It was about 08:00 and as they would only be starting the process of moving the ship at around 10:00, we were too early for the job, so of course we had to use up some time.

We had breakfast at Mugg & Bean. We were forced to do this. It was not our original intention at all. I offer no apologies for our actions in this regard…but needless to say it was great!

Ten ‘o clock arrives, and we are back at the dock. Standing on the cassion – the bridge that also acts as a gate to the dock and keeps the seawater out of the dry dock – is my wife and a few tourists that were captivated by the activity in the dockyard area.

I was inside the enclosure being shown where I could safely set up my equipment by Dock master Ricardo.

The  ship is resting on chocks – huge  logs of heavy railway sleeper-like wood. Scaffolding surrounds it and painters are performing last-minute touch ups.

Cranes on both sides of the dock are moving backward and forward on rails, lifting and placing equipment into strategic places. Thick ropes are being uncoiled and placed in readiness. Capstans are turning, gears are shifting ropes are sliding along the dockyard area.

It is very dangerous. If you are in the wrong spot at the wrong time your legs could be swept from under you and you could end up in hospital or worse.

It is not a quick process to flood a dry dock. First, they (the dockyard crew) have to remove scaffolding around the ship. Get the entire area around the ship clean of anything that could be a danger to shipping when floated out of the dock.

Next they open the valve that lets in sea water. The Dockmaster checks to make sure the flow is correct and the water rushes in. When I say rushes in I mean that there is 1 sluice open. Water pours in through the sluice – which, I guess,  is about half a meter in diameter. This is not enough to make a massive impact on the dry dock. Filling the dock is going to take another 2 – 2½ hours.

When the dock is filled the Cassion is emptied of water. This causes the bridge to rise approximately 1½ meters in the water. It can then be towed away leaving the dock open for the ships to be towed out as well.

The actual moving of the Cassion and the ship is all done with ropes and capstans, with supervisors giving commands as to when capstans take up slack in ropes and when to stop.

Photographing any process for a timelapse sequence is a matter of taking many photographs in quick succession. Using a tripod, and keeping the camera’s focus fixed on a spot. Pre-focussing, and then switch off the auto-focus function. The time delay between each photograph taken depends on the subject matter. Fast moving subject – shorter delay.

During the sequence I switched from a 6 second delay while the scaffolds were being removed – to a 30 sec delay during the actual flooding – and back to a 3 sec delay when the ship was being moved.

Click on this link to see the Timelapse video:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/66954226@N02/?saved=1

All this was photographed in the space of 4 hours and 860 photographs.

I thoroughly enjoyed this experience.

Thank you Portnet!

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