Caledonian MacBrayne ferry Loch Ranza slides down the slipway at RIchard Dunston shipyard in Hessle, East Yorkshire, on a dark wet evening in the late 1980s.
I have quite a few of these ship launch photographs in my archive, this ones not as dramatic as the side launch images I blogged a few months ago, but this is photography at the raw end of things. When ships are launched into a tidal river they are usually timed to hit the water on the turn of a high tide, so the launch could take place at any time of the day, in this case a very dark wet and windy evening. I had to position myself at the end of the slipway, the ship was launched by breaking a bottle on the bow, a trigger then released to allow the vessel to slide into the water, great for spectators!
As the photographer I had one chance to fire the camera at the appropriate moment. The equipment in this case being a Hasselblad 500c with 50mm lens mounted to a Metz 402 flashgun set to full power, film would have been Kodak VR400, exposure f4 @ 1/30s. As you can imagine on this particular evening the rain was soaking the camera and if water sneaked into the electrical connections the flash wouldn’t fire, happily it did and I got the picture!