Photography – Twin Sails Bridge – Summer Photography Project


Twin Sails Bridge - Poole Dorset

Twin Sails Bridge – Poole Dorset

In association with the Poole Tourist Board a project to photograph the Twin Sails Bridge was set along with a competition, the prize to see your photograph used in promotional material by the Poole Tourist Board.

As I was unfamiliar with the Bridge my first task was to do some research on the bridge itself, which I began by searching for images of the bridge on the internet. I found literally thousands of images, the bridge, new in construction had attracted the intentions of many photographers both professional and amateur in the short few months that construction had been completed. I quickly realised this was not going to be one of those situations where a unique photograph would be possible.

I then went onto research the bridge itself and discovered the name of the bridge came from its design, when open the bridge clearly appeared to look like the sails and twin masts of a sailing boat. For that reason it was apparent that for the brief to be fulfilled any photograph I took must be when the bridge was open and must be taken from a location where the twin sails were clearly visible.

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My first set of photographs were taken at 12.30pm one very hot and sunny day, I picked 12.30pm as this is one of the bridges scheduled opening times. I set the tripod up with my Canon EOS 60D fitted with the Canon 18mm to 55mm kit lens. Using Aperture Priority I shot off a sequence of images capturing the bridge in its various states as it opened, lifting the road surface up to allow the waiting boats to pass beneath. The using the camera hand-held and now fitted with a 50mm prime lens I fired off another sequence of images, capturing details of the structure, using the depth of field to attract the viewers eye.

I then relocated to RNLI’s headquarters building where they kindly let me shoot another sequence of photographs from an external walkway looking towards one side of the bridge. These photographs I considered to be less successful as even with the Canon EOS 60D fitted with my most powerful zoom lens 55mm to 250mm and this set to its maximum magnification I was too far away for capture the details of the bridge.

As this is a working bridge cars, cyclists and pedestrians were visible in many of the photographs I’d taken. For the purposes of this project I decided these would distract from the central subject of the bridge and so in post production I removed all of these from the photographs using Photoshop CS5. At the same time I removed some of the shoreline details for example Electricity Pylons, Street Lighting poles from the photographs I would put forward.

Just for fun I also dropped into one of the photographs an image of a full moon, added a gradient to simulate night leaving the structure of the bridge in full daylight or in this case simulating moonlight. Although I thought this was my best image I decided not to enter it as it too far from reality.

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Having some time on my hands and being in the area I decided to visit the bridge on another occasion but carrying only my iPhone 4S this time. Sunday morning at 10.30am in time to capture the bridge again at one of its scheduled opening times. This time with permission I positioned myself on private land at one side of the bridge and using the iPhone 4S and the Camera+ App I photographed the bridge as it rose into the Twin Sails position.

I was lucky again on this occasion with excellent weather and the bonus of heavy cloud formations in the distance adding some interest to the sky which had been absent on the previous photographs.


Both sets of photographs have their merits but surprisingly I think the iPhone 4S photographs are my preferred choice. There’s little difference in quality in fact the wider angle of the iPhone 4S lens allowed me to capture much more of the bridge than my Canons EOS 60D could although fitted with it’s 18mm to 55mm kit lens set at its widest angle.

I also felt the cloud formations added much more interest to the sky rather than the unbroken blue sky for the Canons photographs. The filters and presets of the iPhones Camera+ App also allowed for excellent options for editing these photographs adding more interest to the final images.


The next stage was to select which photographs I would submit for printing and for the competition. This was my only mistake I left the printing to the day of the competition picking them up just minutes before submission and unfortunately I submitted them even though I was not happy with the final result. In my opinion the prints were too dark and lacked the fine details of the images I’d reviewed on screen.

Needless to say I was not surprised when they failed to win the overall prize but happy to hear they will be used in the marketing material by the Poole Tourist Board with the artist being identified by name in the description.