alan frost photography

in monochrome with occasional colour lapses

Posts from the ‘Dorset’ category

Three very different views of the Jurassic Coast

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Charmouth – Reflections of Light

Apart from my home county of West Sussex there are two other places I most like to visit. Top of the list is Scotland. Unfortunately it’s the best part of 400 miles just to cross the border, let alone reach the Highlands; not to mention the journey time by car of at least 6 hours and that doesn’t include hold ups or any stops. It’s therefore not very practical to go there on a regular basis.

Much closer to home is the county of Dorset and my wife and I are regular visitors. It offers a wonderful combination of varied countryside and a truly majestic coastline – or in other words The Jurassic Coast, which has been a World Heritage Site since 2001.

Photographic opportunities are in abundance. Here are just three images from our most recent visit to the area.

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Charmouth – Towards Golden Cap

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Jurassic Clifftops from White Nothe

Spectacular scenery and in many ways a more than adequate substitute for Scotland……and I can get there and back in one day, very comfortably!

Here are links to a few other posts which feature Dorset.

Portland Bill Lighthouse with the Leica M9-P

Colour of light on The Jurassic Coast

Alone on The Cobb

St Catherine’s Chapel – from picture postcard to a more dramatic view

In this post I thought it might interest those who read my blog to illustrate my approach to capturing a well known landmark and how I come to make a few images which become my take on a much photographed location.

One such famous landmark is St Catherine’s Chapel on the outskirts of Abbotsbury in Dorset. Perched high on a hill overlooking the Jurassic coastline it is very visible from the surrounding hills. The colour image is arguably the ‘straight’ picture postcard shot. A perfectly pleasing image, technically sound, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Convert the same image into black and white, and after a little processing in Lightroom and Silver Efex (my go to software for mono work) and the Chapel instantly has a more dramatic appearance. In my opinion still nothing special, but the sky is more a feature of the shot.

The third shot and a very different composition, this time a portrait. The wispy clouds above the chapel are all important but somehow I still don’t think it is the best shot in this sequence.

Finally, I moved in much closer to the chapel using a wide angle lens. As a consequence the building now dominates the frame and the converging lines of the buttresses give a sense of height and mass. This is complemented by the clouds which are a wonderful backdrop to the harsh lines and solid golden buff limestone structure of the chapel itself. The surrounding landscape has been excluded, so this image no longer provides a sense of place, but as a photograph it’s my favourite of the four. Would it be your choice as well? Certainly the most dramatic, and no longer the picture postcard view which I am always keen to avoid if at all possible.

The chapel is thought to have been built in the late 14th Century by the monks of nearby Abbotsbury Abbey. It was used as a place of pilgrimage; its isolated setting allowing monks to withdraw from the monastery during Lent for private prayer and meditation. As it can be seen from the sea it would also have served as a beacon after the Dissolution.

 

Do click on any of the images to view a larger version.

Portland Bill Lighthouse with the Leica M9-P

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Although we are frequent visitors to Dorset we have never visited the Isle of Portland before, well until this week. Portland is approached from the town of Weymouth and strictly speaking it’s not an island, as it can be reached by road over a causeway from Chesil Beach. Only four miles long by one and a half miles wide, Portland juts out into the English channel and is very exposed to the elements.

At its southern most point lies Portland Bill with its prominent lighthouse which is virtually surrounded by old quarry workings of Portland Stone. This famous building material has been mined since Roman times, and from the early 17th Century was shipped to London for the construction of many buildings. St Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, The Tower of London and The Bank of England to name but a few.

Portland has three lighthouses but only the one pictured in this post is operational. Built by Trinity House in 1906, it stands 41m tall and was automated in 1996.

As an aside and for those who like reading about cameras and processing etc, this shot was taken with a Leica M9-P and 50mm f1.4 Summilux lens. The M9 was Leica’s first full frame digital rangefinder camera and was introduced back in 2009, so is now some 8 years old. Superceded by the M240 in 2013, which only this week has been replaced by the new Leica M10. A remarkable camera I’m sure and whilst technology has moved on considerably since the M9 first appeared on the scene, it still performs extremely well. Of course it is not as advanced and has its limitations in use, but the image quality is still outstanding. The image was processed in Lightroom and Silver Efex.

Colour of light on The Jurassic Coast

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Clavell Tower at Kimmeridge Bay at the end of the day

 

The Jurassic Coast in Dorset is a World Heritage site, famous for its cliffs, beaches and fossils. Together they reveal the history of the earth over a period of 185 million years. Just jaw dropping.  The area is also a rich source of photographic subjects and whilst it’s a challenge to take anything that hasn’t already been taken many times before, it’s no less appealing simply because of its popularity, particularly when the colour of the light is at its most favourable.

My wife and I have just returned from a short break in the area, staying at West Lane Cottage in Piddlehinton which is about 20 to 25 minutes drive from various parts of the coast. We chose to visit a number of different locations, mainly towards the end of the day and we were blessed with some fine weather and on one day in particular, a superb sunset.

By way of a change from my usual monochrome work, here are a selection of photographs captured on our trips to the coast.

Perhaps, just perhaps, maybe I should do a little more colour work in the future? Only time will tell.

 

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Morning light on East Cliff near West Bay

 

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Towards Golden Cap from West Bay

 

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The cliffs at Hive Beach near Burton Bradstock

 

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Looking east from Swyre as the sun starts to set

 

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Sunset at Swyre – looking towards Golden Cap

 

 

Churches Project no. 15 – St Andrew, Winterborne Tomson, Dorset

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For such a small and simple church, there is so much to admire and enjoy here. For starters the very location of St Andrew in the tiny hamlet of Winterborne Tomson is a delight. Rural and unspoilt, the church backs onto a dairy farm and I like the way the farm building behind the church echoes the shape of the church itself. There is a manor house on the other side of the narrow road which leads down to the church plus a thatched cottage for neighbours.

 

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It’s not until you enter through the west door that the simple beauty of this church reveals itself. Built of flint and stone in the 12th Century, this single cell church has a most unusual apsidal east end with a plastered wagon roof of slender beams and decorative bosses. All the bleached oak furnishings which include box pews, the pulpit and sounding board above, the screen and altar rail, have turned silver grey over the years. They date from the 18th Century and were provided by William Wake, the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1716 to 1737. He would worship in this church when staying with his family who lived nearby. Apparently he loved the simplicity of the church compared to the grandeur and opulence of the cathedrals. I can empathise with his feelings and for me this place reminded me of another church in Warminghurst in West Sussex which you can read about here.

 

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It’s hard to believe that less than 100 years ago the church was used by the local farm for pigs, fowl and other animals, but very fortunately was saved from complete ruin in 1931. Money was raised from the sale of some Thomas Hardy manuscripts by the The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and this was used to pay for much needed repairs. The work was overseen by the architect A R Powys, who was Secretary to the Society. On his death he was buried in the churchyard and a plaque can be seen inside the church, commemorating his work. Given its history it’s perhaps no surprise that this church is now cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust, and whilst still consecrated, is only used on a handful of occasions during the year.

 

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Lastly and to put this church in the context of its setting I have included an image taken just yards form the church itself.

 

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Dorset is providing a rich source of lovely churches, so I will certainly be back there in the future so that I can add to my ‘Churches Project’ collection.

Do click on any of the images to view a larger version in a new window.