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.
Much has been written in recent times about how the combination of photography and mindfulness can be beneficial to your mental wellbeing. Simply being out in the open, experiencing nature and witnessing the marvel of the created world has to be good for the soul. Most people worry and are anxious from time to time without actually suffering from a mental illness, myself included.
As well as taking regular exercise for your physical fitness, I recognise that doing things which specifically help your mental wellbeing are just as important, perhaps even more so given the world in which we live right now. So whilst stress and anxiety are not really a big issue for me, we can all benefit from being creative in a beautiful location and in so doing capturing a few special moments with a camera.
A few weeks ago I returned to one of my favourite places. East Head at West Wittering on the West Sussex coast. Probably one of the finest stretches of sand along the south coast and often listed in ‘Britain’s Best Beaches’. More often than not I am there with my wife and our dog early in the morning. On this occasion I went there on my own for a couple of hours not to walk but to photograph. I chose one particular spot, and then observed the tide receding and captured the setting sun. Because of the fading light and a desire to smooth the water all of the images you see here were long exposures which of course required the use of a tripod. This in itself forced me to slow down.
With no pressure on my time I could relax and concentrate on what I was doing. Whilst waiting for the light to change I simply stopped and watched the sun work its magic in the sky. Any worrying thoughts I had were lifted; as there was no space in my mind for anything other than photography and the scenery around me. Just ‘being in the moment’ to coin a phrase. Photographing sunsets is something of a cliche, but does that matter? Not in my opinion when the benefits are so tangible.
It has been a while since I last updated this blog and I am pleased to have another three or four entries to compose and publish soon. All of which will feature colour photographs as this seems to be the path I am following for now. I am also aware that I need to spend some time updating this website generally to reflect this change of direction. There are also a number of camera and processing techniques which I have yet to try – for example, focus stacking and exposure blending. Nothing new or original, just something I have never done before, so when I do I will endeavour to write about my experiences and share some images.
For now though I will simply leave you with this summary. If you are a creative (it doesn’t have to be photography), then put aside some time in your diary, head out to a favourite location and turn off your phone. Try and relax and take a few deep breaths, whilst you experience and appreciate the beauty that surrounds you, And perhaps for the time you are there some of your worries will ease, as a feeling of calm and stillness prevails.
Back on the 28th March I posted ‘A Lone Marker Post – a metaphor perhaps’. This was just five days after Lockdown began in the UK on the 23rd of March. Yesterday I returned to this beach for the first time in well over 3 months and subsequently made the above image.
Ever since I acquired my new Fuji X100v I have wanted to experiment, or to use a better expression – play with colour! I have to say the combination of the camera and processing the images in Capture One Pro has been quite liberating.
Don’t get me wrong my first love is monochrome and probably always will be, but exploring the world of colour is another avenue I have always wanted to follow and now I feel in a position to do so.
It’s not just the camera and software combination, but a feeling that in these times of Coronavirus and Lock-down across large parts of the world, including my home country, we all need a little good cheer to brighten our day. I am the first to admit my black and white photographs can be a little sombre, even melancholy. They may reflect the times we are living through but what better than some colour and lovely early morning light to warm the soul.
These three images were taken this morning on our daily walk with the dog. It turned out to be some of the best light of the day. How fortunate we are that we can reach such a beautiful place from our front door, take photographs and then share them with others from the comfort of home.