Rammell Photography

Surrey Wedding Photographer

27: Westbay, Dorset - A Place to Relax and Unwind

Blogging General, Landscape, Long Exposure, NatureMichael RammellComment

In my previous post I posted some of my favourite shots from my family break in Westbay, Dorset. It's one of my favourite places to go in the UK. It's stunningly beautiful, peaceful and tranquil. Just a great place to go and relax - and as a bonus it's a brilliant place to visit if you're a photographer. I was there in February - at this time of year tourist season hasn't started yet and most things remain shut for much of the week. It may sounds strange, but the idea of going somewhere so quiet, and so out of touch with day-to-day life is the way I enjoy recharging my batteries. I love a hot beach and a pool as much as anyone, but there is something special to me about being somewhere so calm.

The last post actually only contained pictures from the first half of my trip. I'd been out shooting each morning and wrote the blog on Wednesday afternoon -that was then scheduled to publish itself on the Friday morning as I knew I'd be out shooting at the time I wanted it to be released. I was still there until the Saturday so I had 3 more days worth (Thursday - Saturday) of images that have not yet been published. I wasn't actually able to edit these images until Saturday night when we got home as we were so busy unpacking and trying to get ourselves organised again.

Finally, A dramatic sky!

We were very lucky during our time in Westbay that it only rained once the entire week, and even then the rain was overnight. Despite it being February it was fairly dry! Having said that, seeing a patch of blue in the sky was a rarity so the most part the sky was just a large, sheet of grey. Whilst this was the perfect light for shooting subjects such as people and wildlife, it meant that all my landscape images lacked a little bit of depth and an interesting sky.

That was until the Friday afternoon:

Finally, a sky with a little Drama!

As usual I went out shooting in the morning and got some more long exposures that I was really pleased with. I also took a walk along the cliff tops (which I'll come to in a minute), but those images still had a fairly bland and plain sky.

It wasn't until the afternoon however when my wife and I arrived back at our cottage after some dinner that she pointed out that there was finally some blue sky peeking through the clouds. She looked at me when she said that and knew what I was going to say.

"Yes, fine, go on then go out and photograph your sky!" She would say.

I gave her a kiss on her the cheek and jumped back into the car and headed for the harbor. I was surprised when I looked at this image on Saturday night how much purple there was in the sky.

Trying Something Different

All week I'd been getting up and going to the same harbour and then going to one of 3 places along the beach. In my mind I knew the image I wanted to capture and I was so focused on trying to get it that I almost totally forgot the main feature of Westbay - the huge cliffs!

So, one morning after parking up I headed East instead of West and started to walk along Chesil beach. the idea was to get the sun rising above the cliffs. However, that didn't work. The clouds were a blanket again that morning and sunrise just didn't happen, well, it  did happen, but nothing dramatic or worthy of photographing. What I did notice though was that there were quite a few birds that had nested in the nooks and cracks of the cliff, all quite close to the top. So, after 20 minutes of walking I'd reached a point where I could climb up from the beach and start to walk to the top of the cliff's. I did just that and started to make my way back to the car.

I was extremely nervous about going close to the edge as I didn't want to fall off, or, have the cliff collapse underneath me. It happened a few years back. to a young girl (It's also the premise behind the drama series called Broadchurch). As I walked back I found that many of the seagulls were all sitting on the very top, not too far from me at all. I mounted my 70-200 telephoto and started to shoot:

A pair of Seagull's sitting atop the cliffs

I'm not typically known for my nature or wildlife shots, although I have photographed Deer on a number of occasions  but I really enjoyed photographing these birds. I'd see how close I could get before the flew away. it was usually quite close.

Making these images was quite rewarding for me as it meant I had something a little different in my Dorset 2013 library.

A Slower Pace of Life

Due to the cold, the only places my wife would go was from the car to the shop, or from the shop to the restaurant  or from the restaurant to the car, or from the car to the cottage...well, you get the idea...She does not like the cold as much as I do but is willing to face it in short bursts to get somewhere!

After lunch one day though we decided to go for a drive; the roads were so quiet and we wanted to get our daughter off to sleep. She'd been awake since 6am and she was way past her afternoon nap time. As many parents will tell you - a drive in the car normally does quite a good job of getting children to sleep. However, this day Zahra (my daughter) was fighting it - rather than doing her usual of falling asleep momentarily after being put into her car seat she insisted on doing her lion impression for 15 minutes and then practicing her newly-found high pitched scream...what was supposed to be a relaxing drive turned into an ear-piercing nightmare! So, we decided to just head back to the cottage. On the way back, admiring the views, we noticed a small car park on the side of the road and a sign reading 'National Trust'...we pulled in and put an hour on the car and walked down to the shingle beach to see what it was all about. It turns out that there wasn't very much at all except miles of coast-line leading back to Westbay  But after walking so far from the car and lugging all my camera gear down with I was going to be dammed if i didn't get a photo of something:

Though shall have a little fishy...

I could see some small tents in the distance on the beach. I thought that was pretty odd. So I headed in that direction. As I got nearer I could see the fishing rods and realised that the guys were sitting in their little wind shelters waiting to catch something. I walked over with the intention of talking to them, to see what they were hoping to catch, but then this guy got a bite. Rather an troubling him I decided to sit back and just watch what happened.

Turns out he didn't get a bite. He stood there for quite some just watching his line.

I had the 7d on the tripod and was using my 70-200 f2.8 mkII for this shot. I favoured the panoramic-type crop.

That's all for now

For now, that's all of the images I'd like to share from my break in Dorset. After shooting 1200 images over the course of a week I've ended up with around 30 images I'm quite pleased with. I'll be sharing more over on the communities in Google+, posting some to Facebook and tweeting the odd image here and there, so please do Add me to your circles, add me as a friend and follow me and all that other good stuff.

'Til next time - I hope you've enjoyed my images. Please do feel free to share and leave a comment below!

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