I suppose, at that young age, I was at the beginning of a learning curve that has been travelled by humans and our fellow creatures for millennia, the learning curve that leads us to water. After all, it is where we have found most of our food, whether that food resides in the water or comes to drink or to graze the fodder that grows with the waters help. And now, I am back in Poldhu Cove, with my camera, experiencing water through my photography more often these days, standing back and watching it more than that little boy who needed to be immersed in it as often as possible.
Having captured coastal images in many places over the years, I find the light in Poldhu Cove has a character all of its own. Around those golden hours in the morning and at dusk the light can be an intriguing mix of warm and cooler colours and as the coastal shelf into the cove has a shallow gradient, the beach can, at times, hold a layer of water that reflects the sky's canopy of light beautifully. This enables me to photograph in the cove later into the evening, even after sunset, as the wet beach acts as an extra source of light that helps to extend the amount of available light and help to balance the contrast of the scene.
In the next article, I will list the equipment we would use to capture these light qualities. As my photography has developed (if you will pardon the pun), I have learned more about exposure and light and now prefer to capture as much of the scene naturally, within the camera itself, relying on post-production editing only in order to tweak the finish. Although I do sometimes produce images using many layers and effects, I prefer to make it obvious when I do this. My most recent collection of images and Limited Edition Prints cover Poldhu Cove in Cornwall and also several “On The Water Front” exhibitions staged over the last few years, and it is a celebration of the ocean, its water, beauty, subtlety, power and fragility - and the qualities of light needed to capture this beauty with our cameras.
Whilst I enjoy being by the water's edge anywhere, the coast is my particular love, whether the ocean is lapping the coast gently with that soft hiss of water onto shale, or the curling caress of small waves, or especially when thundering onto a beach, bay or harbour. I am lost in wonder at the forces driving those thousand white horses to crash onto the shores, the remnants of winds and storms from, sometimes, thousands of miles away finally throwing the last of their energy at our feet – the Moon’s effect from an even greater distance.
One last comment before we start.
Seascape photography can be a dangerous art. In my earlier photo trips to the coast, I have, on occasion, been close to being washed into the sea, tripod, camera and all. I have developed a respect for the sea and have learned that she is a fickle element, oblivious to our presence, unpredictable and, in a way, unknowable. Many sailors of experience have lost their wager with the sea. If you are close to crashing sea waves, don't think it will do you any good to count the waves, or to measure just how far they are reaching today. You can do this for as long as you like, but there will always be that one wave that comes from nowhere, higher, wider, faster, altogether different from those you’ve counted. Take care - this beautiful changeling will not notice you as she delivers the final surge of energy onto your little piece of the coast.
Oh, but how she lifts the spirit...