Back in winter 2013, I visited Bamburgh in Northumberland with a friend. We had both been to the area quite a few times and we had high hopes for our trip. As we made our way down to the beach for what we were sure would be an amazing sunrise, our expectations were sky high. As it turned out, there was some faint colour in the otherwise stormy sky and we found ourselves battered by the wind and rain.
The following day was equally disappointing but for different reasons. We went down to the beach again and readied ourselves for the sunrise. It was already raining hard and the wind was making it very difficult to shoot, even with a sturdy tripod. We sat in the car wondering what to do, waiting for the last moment when, if the sun broke through we would run down and catch the scene.
What happened next was amazing. The sun did break through and lasted only a few minutes, but the sunrise was like nothing I have never seen before. It was as if a weeks’ worth of amazing sunrises were compressed into a few minutes. If I described the scene as nuclear it would not be an understatement. But I’m not going to show the shots from that sunrise. They simply look unreal. The best word I can use to describe the images now is vulgar. Even the unprocessed RAW files look fake.
What I am sharing though is one of the many “failed” images from the first morning. I happened across this image looking for examples to use in my Nik Silver Efex book (I decided the original needs an update).
But here’s the interesting things. There were dozens of great images from that first morning and I had been blind to them. I suspect the disappointment of the trip lingered long in my memory
when it failed to meet expectations. It’s only now when I come to work on the image, having separated myself from the shooting, that I can really see the beauty of the morning.
I’m sat here this evening searching my images to find a Friday image to share. As I do so, the overwhelming feeling I have is that all the images are too “in your face”. They are all competing too hard for my attention and as a result none of them hold it.
But with Yin there must be Yang (my Tai Chi teacher would be impressed) and this image has subtly held my attention. I remember at the time the vivid, sunset light falling onto this grass as I walked through the dunes. I decided to make the grass and consequently light the centre of attention. To retain a sense of place I included the sea in the background but deliberately threw it out of focus. You know it’s a beach at sunset but if I didn’t tell you it was Bamburgh, you wouldn’t known.
Ultimately, the more I look at this image, the greater the feeling and sense of place it evokes. That’s very odd for a generic beach scene at sunset. Then again, perhaps it’s because I was there and it doesn’t do anything for you.
Apologies for my ramblings. I hope you have a great weekend.
I know this view has been shot a million times but I still love it. There is something quite magical about standing on a beach, in front of a castle, waiting for the sun to come up. Judging by the huddle of photographers around me at the time, I’m not the only person who thinks this.
Hopefully I can shoot some more images with less well known scenes this weekend.
Last weekend I was up in Northumberland, staying at Bamburgh. As you would expect of any landscape photographer, I took the opportunity to shoot the castle at both sunrise (wonderful) and sunset (challenging).
The image above is from one of the rather challenging “sunsets” (there wasn’t any sun) but I still like something about it. I have experimented quite a bit with the processing, even producing the black and white version below. Despite this, I don’t think I have hit on quite what I wanted (although the B&W is my favorite) so I think it will be back to Bamburgh at some point. I will share a few of the better images in the future.