In awe of the light and dark clouds at East Head

Never before have I witnessed such a dramatic scene – fortunately I was in the right place at the right time.

At the end of last month I visited East Head at West Wittering, a place I have photographed and written about many times before on this site. But this time the conditions were very different and they couldn’t have been more atmospheric, moody or in one word spectacular. It was early evening as the drama unfolded before my eyes.

As I walked on the sand I noticed a line of fence posts which roped off a section of the dunes. After all East Head is owned by the National Trust and they are keen to protect this important habitat for wildlife and in particular nesting birds. This was a minimalist image (above) but as I turned round to look in the opposite direction I saw dark clouds gathering fast.

Wherever I looked the sky was so dramatic there were numerous compositions to be seen in the viewfinder, but I knew I would have to work quite quickly as the clouds would soon obscure the sun and the stark contrast of light and dark would probably be lost for the remainder of the day. Although there were a few other people around I was careful to leave them out of the frame.

I walked away from the shoreline and headed back towards the car, still not quite believing the scene I was witnessing. I was tempted to just sit and watch in awe of the quite sublime lighting and cloud formations. The lone bench was empty and the view looking back towards the dunes with the South Downs on the horizon was really rather special.

I found time for one final dramatic capture – the last streak of light on the dunes, already featured at the head of this post.

Rain which I had expected never fell, and the dark clouds started to lift to reveal brighter skies to the west. In the space of less than an hour the beauty of this landscape was at its very best and I count myself very fortunate to have been there at just the right time with a camera in my hand.

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