Posts tagged ‘East Sussex’

The Coastguards – Escaping the classic view

The Coastguards

This image was captured at Cuckmere Haven in East Sussex  earlier this week. The approach is from Seaford Head Nature Reserve. It’s an extremely well known spot, not only for tourists but also for photographers who wish to add the ‘classic view’ to their collection. By ‘classic view’ I mean the one which is taken from the top of the footpath on the right of this picture. Looking east, the coastguard cottages are in the foreground whilst the majestic view of the cliffs of The Seven Sisters and Beachy Head fill the background. It is a wonderful view but metaphorically speaking there are thousands of tripod holes in the prime spot. Just Google – Coastguard Cottages Seaford – and you will see what I mean.

On my Instagram feed, a fellow Worpress Blogger, Lensscaper by Andy Hooker, rightly pointed out in a comment that the view isn’t as good as it used to be. The brambles are quite overgrown and the view of the cottages is quite obscured.

This didn’t matter to me  as the point of this post is to look for alternative viewpoints and not to follow in the footsteps (or tripod holes) of all the people that have gone before me. The ‘classic view’ might be the one to appear on the picture postcard or a tin of biscuits made for the tourist, but I prefer to explore a popular location and look for an image which is not often seen by the majority.

In case you were wondering I did take the ‘classic view’ about a year ago and here it is. Even then  I still made the focal point an elderly gentleman with his walking stick. I was still resisting a shot of  just the view itself. You can read this post here.


I would argue that even in the most popular locations there are new shots to be found if you take the trouble to look around and not be tempted to repeat the obvious.

Cuckmere Haven alone in the mist

Cuckmere Haven-3

Regular readers will know that I am a great one for projects or bodies of work both large and small. Some last many months, even years and others are achieveable in only a day. They all have merit. Stand out single or what I like to call ‘Hero’ images do have their place but somehow the portrayal of a location and the prevailing conditions can really only be told in a series of pictures.

This selection of images were all taken during one visit to Cuckmere Haven in East Sussex.

I wanted to use my newly acquired Sony RX100 Mk3 compact camera to make a set of monochorme images for the first time and be able to assess the quality of the results.  Very simply I decided beforehand to try and capture the location using no more than a dozen pictures; in fact there are eleven in this post.

Cuckmere Haven

Cuckmere Haven-2

Cuckmere Haven-12

I enjoy being in unfamiliar locations and taking photographs. My mind is fresh to the possibilities of what I might see and capture in camera. Weather plays a big part of course and I was fortunate on this particular occassion to find the area shrouded in low cloud and mist. These conditions are ideal for black and white photography. I can adjust the contrast to suit each image to portray not only what the eye saw but how the scene felt to me.

All the pictures are landscape in format with a 3 x 2 aspect ratio for consistency. I think this is important if a set of images is to be presented as a harmonious panel of work.

Cuckmere Haven-4

Cuckmere Haven-5

Cuckmere Haven-8

As I walked around the lagoon  I found myself being drawn to some minimilist compositions which I rather like.

Cuckmere Haven-6

Cuckmere Haven-9

None more so than the picture below of a single post with the far bank just visible in the distance.

Cuckmere Haven-10

As for the Sony RX100 camera – well I have yet to make prints, but for the purposes of this blog, the quality of the RAW files is excellent.

Water, posts and reflections always have an appeal and these things all came together for my last image, with the added bonus of a sheep in the centre of the frame.

Cuckmere Haven-7

This part of East Sussex is a very popular with tourists visiting not just Cuckmere Haven but also the Seven Sister cliffs (the first image) and further to the east, Beachy Head. Although there were other people around, I felt quite alone here. Alone with nature – the mist largely obscuring my visibility of people or distractions I didn’t want or need to witness. I can easily imagine how this area might look bathed in sunshine with many people to be seen in every direction. Call me melanchonic but give me the mist and solitude any day of the week please.

To enjoy these images at their best, please click on each one to view a larger version.

Reminiscing perhaps?


There are no prizes for guessing where this shot was taken; as anyone familiar with this iconic location will know that it is the view from Seaford Head towards the chalk cliffs of The Seven Sisters, with Beachy Head just visible in the far distance.

This image is less about the view and more about the story it has to tell. The elderly gentleman with white hair sits on his own, his faithful walking stick at his side. Quite possibly a location he has visited many times before, we can only begin to imagine the thoughts that are passing through his mind as he looks over the coastguard cottages and across the bay to The Seven Sisters. Perhaps he is reminiscing about days gone by and the times when walking the landscape in front of him were a little less challenging than they might be today.

Photographically a key ingredient which makes this shot work for me is the careful placement of his head and the horn handle of his stick, so that both share a dark background. As a result your eye is drawn to this part of the picture, which is of course the main point of interest. The view is stunning, but on this occasion it plays second fiddle to why I pressed the shutter. It’s the story within the picture and not the view itself that I was trying to capture.

An Antiquarian bookshop – which harks back to another era


Antiquarian Bookshop

Antiquarian bookshop


A couple of days ago I was in the lovely town of Lewes in East Sussex. My brief visit had nothing to do with photography, but I did have my camera with me. There wasn’t the time to explore the town, but I was struck by the number of secondhand bookshops there were.

This image of ‘A & Y Cumming’ takes me back to another time. This photograph could have been taken many years ago, as so little has changed. The only modern item clearly visible is the alarm box in the top left hand corner, but even this is relatively old if compared with what might be installed today.

In these days of Amazon and ‘online shopping’ etc, it’s rather appealing that a shop like this can still trade and survive. Even its opening hours are hardly 24/7. The sign writing on the door informs you the shop will open at 10am on weekdays and close at 5pm. On Saturday it stays open an extra half an hour until 5.30pm but not surprisingly it’s closed on Sundays. How very civilised.

The sign writing above the door is old fashioned, but befitting of what’s on sale. The telephone number simply says Lewes and does not display the area code, so you would have to know what this is if you wanted to ring the shop from outside the area. It’s all very quaint and says a lot about Lewes as a town. Yes, it has a large Tesco superstore, a Waitrose and other well known shops, plus a number of independents, but none of these has the charm of a Antiquarian and Secondhand bookshop which harks back to another era.

Long may shops such as these continue to exist and thrive in the future, helping to preserve a little bit of history in the process.