I have spent the last two Tuesdays at Birling Gap in the South Downs National Park.
Although I love discovering new locations, there is also a joy in revisiting known places.The light is always different, the seasons and weather change and, at the coast there is always the added variable of tides. The first Tuesday, a low tide revealed sand that reflected the cliffs and interesting sky:On my return this week, the tide was shallow, never uncovering the sand. This created a very different mood:
I grew up in this part of the country so photography trips to the South Downs National Park always feel like a coming home.
The chalk-based landscape is really quite special and, at Birling Gap, I love the way grey rocks sit on the chalky base below the white cliffs…
…and the chalk makes the sea bright against a stormy sky. I am heading down to Sussex again tomorrow. As always, I hope for interesting light. But I know that I will enjoy this beautiful place no matter what the weather brings.
Last week I had the chance to pop down to Selsey and photograph the RNLI’s Lifeboat station. It is an imposing structure, with its long gangway linking it to the shore. I have always been fascinated by the story of lifeboats. Perhaps my interest lies partly in the fact that a good portion of my first twelve years were spent at sea, even encountering a lifeboat on a particularly foggy day off the Devon coast when it was a very welcome sight indeed. The story of the lifeboat service is full of daring deeds and sacrifices. I have often wondered why the BBC, or indeed, Hollywood, has failed to make a drama about it. Still, to this day, the lifeboats are manned by volunteers, people with day jobs who feel it right to offer their service in aid of those in peril on the sea.
If you are interested in maritime history, you might enjoy this blog: Map of Time.
The internet has, mostly, been a marvellous thing for enthusiast photographers, not least because images are readily available for our viewing and educational pleasure. Although there is still nothing quite like seeing an image in print, we no longer need to buy a magazine or go to an exhibition for our daily dose of photo inspiration.
As most of us have realised, however, volume does not equal quality and discernment is a skill we must develop to become better photographers. One of the difficulties in our way is that fact that most photosharing sites, like Flickr and 500px, reward the high-impact, stand-alone image. Often, subtler images, that reward a more lingering gaze, are overlooked in the frenetic world of internet attention spans.
Recently, I have found myself enjoying Adobe’s image-sharing site, Behance, not only because overall the standard of imagery is high, but because Behance is geared towards projects rather than stand-alone images. This is where the professionals hang out and, perhaps because they tend to be working on commissioned projects, the site abounds in sequences of images, connected visually and creatively into cohesive wholes. If you have not yet found Behance, I recommend a visit. Just select photography from the ‘creative fields’ drop down menu and soak up the gorgeousness.
Inspired by what I have been seeing there, I have started to make sets of images, linked by style, subject or even colour. The five images posted here were all taken on the same day last week when I had to be in West Sussex. The weather was stormy, with sudden bursts of bright sunlight in front of heavy skies, so I decided to exploit that changeable feeling, deliberately using a variety of shutter speeds to capture the sea’s mood. By afternoon, the weather had eased but I attempted to carry the morning’s colour palette into the afternoon’s shoot, at Selsey Lifeboat station.
Incidentally, the second image is of a wrecked portion of WW2 mulberry harbour that has been rusting away on Aldwick beach for seventy years. Believe it or not, I grew up literally a stone’s throw from this wreck but have only now bothered to photograph it. Sometimes we overlook the things closest to us.