In these staycation days more and more holidaymakers are rediscovering the fun of the Great British Seaside resort. It’s true that many of these are a little shabby and down at heel in places, but they are also iconic features of the the British coast, and still have beautiful beaches and stunning views. Even the weather worn buildings lend a certain charm. I confess that I prefer cloudy skies to bright blue expanses – it just adds to the atmosphere (literally too).
This photo was taken when I had a few days in Weymouth, Dorset, on the South Coast of England. The beach was sandy and smooth, the bay was calm enough for pedalos, and there was coffee on the beach – what more could you ask for?
For many photographers our horizons have been severely reduced. And yet, it’s strange that in being limited to a much smaller radius of travel, how much more we see that in other times we would have just driven past. One such spot is this stile, set on an old Roman road, just south of High Street in Hurstpierpoint.
The very first time we found this on one of our isolation exercise walks I knew it would make for a lovely sunset photograph, and so, we’ve revisited, aiming for dusk in the hope of seeing just this sort of sunset. So, the moral is, even when your horizons are restricted, keep an eye out for that new viewpoint that is just around the next corner, or field.
One of the things that I try to do with my landscapes is to reduce the image to a minimal set of components – sky, sea, land. Sometimes I go to great lengths to hide the clutter that surrounds most of our beautiful views. It seems a rather logical progression from that to attempt to produce that minimal set of elements in a graphical way – essentially only placing into the image that which is a strong self contained element. Here’s an image that I produced from a ‘drive by’ photo of Rathlin Island, off the coast of Northern Ireland. I hope you like it 🙂
There’s a wonderful soft light to the South Downs, and there are spectacular views from the top of the Downs all the way to the coast, and along the spine of the chalk hills that comprise the South Downs.
One of the enchanting aspects of walking the Downs is the sense of layers that are laid out before you. Ditchling Beacon is my nearest viewpoint, and it’s the perfect place to capture these layers. First of all there’s the grass along the paths, and the wildflowers along the fences. Then there are the fields of every shade and colour in the middle distance. And topping it off are big skies.
The town of Hastings, nestled between two hills on the South Coast of England is one of those archetypal British resorts. There’s the old town, with all its quirkiness, and the new town alongside, stretching the promenade all the way along the coast. The pier has been subject to a recent modernisation project, but from a distance looks just the same as many UK piers.
The beach huts are ubiquitous all along this coast. For most resorts the choice of paint is up to the individual, resulting in many colours, and much fading and flaking. When I saw this set of beach huts by Hastings Pier I loved the uniformity of colour as well as the freshness of the paint. They make a wonderful foreground contrast to the pier and the setting sun.
For anyone who follows this blog this image will be no surprise. I’m constantly looking for the archetypal unfocal image, one that doesn’t draw the eye to a particular spot, but is restful to look at and enduring in its appeal. When the light is right, the light is all you need. In this case the sliver of sand and sea give sufficient context to take the image out of the abstract while still being soft and unfocal.
The Donegal coast of Ireland really is a must see. From Malin Head to Fanad Lighthouse to Downings and the Atlantic Drive, and on round to Portnblagh the views are to die for, whether it’s sunny or shady. My personal favourite is the Atlantic Drive starting from Downings. Round every turn of the road another vista opens itself up to the eye. The northern light casts a beauty that envelops beaches, houses, roads with a quality that is hard to capture. You’ve got to be there!
But if you can’t, a photograph catches something of that light, of that beauty, of that atmosphere. One of my favourites from our road trip is this image of a couple of donkeys that came to say hello as we stopped to admire the view.
One of my favourite things to see on the coast is marram grass. The North West coast of England is suffused with sand dunes and marram – that’s where the name of my photography business came from. It’s not so common on this side of the Irish Sea, but on a visit to Murlough Bay a few weeks ago I was delighted not only to find acres of marram and gorse, but also to see that the Mourne Mountains still had a dusting of snow on top. Put two of my favourite things to photograph together and you get a wonderful combination of foreground and background, with just a hint of sea in the middle.
If you would like to own a print for yourself please do drop me a line. I can supply framed or unframed. The following print fit very nicely into IKEA’s simple black frames if you’d like to do it yourself. Prices are £55 for 30cm x 22cm, £75 for 40cm x 30cm, both prices are plus delivery. Other sizes are available, please get in touch to enquire.
There was a comment made on Twitter a few days ago in response to the wonderful Secret Britain TV programme on our wee country. The comment was that we need to market ourselves better – a comment with which I wholeheartedly agree. Since coming back this side of the Irish Sea I’ve been surprised by how underdeveloped the tourism industry is. In comparison, one of our favourite spots in the Lake District is Tarn Hows – it’s miles from anywhere, up at the top of a mountain (as Tarns, by definition are), and yet there is still a car park and ‘facilities’. Every village and coastal town worth visiting in England has coffee shops and parking and facilities. Often you have to pay for parking, but the ability to travel knowing you have somewhere to park and somewhere to eat makes it worthwhile.
What is at the same time the beauty of and the frustration of Northern Ireland’s many wonderful locations is that we don’t do tourism very well. I love the fact that I can visit an unspoilt cover, or a huge beach (such as Murlough above) and not have to pay for parking or be overwhelmed by other tourists. I hate the fact that large areas are inaccessible (how much of Lough Neagh can you get to?) and most are underdeveloped.
As an avid consumer of our coast and countryside I would love to see it consumed my more of our local population and visited by more UK visitors as well as those from beyond our isles. What would be nicer than to have car parks with cafes and helpful staff at all our major attractions?
But before we get to that we need to let people know what we have got! We live in one of the most beautiful parts of the British Isles, but we don’t let people know. I for one believe that in this case at least, pictures speak louder than words. So, the picture above is just another encouragement to discover Northern Ireland for yourself.