If you've been following my blog at all over the past few weeks you'll know that I've been shooting mostly wildlife and landscapes - with my first wedding not until April this year I'm finding other subjects to photograph to keep my skills sharp.
Whilst photographing a happy couple on the biggest, happiest day is my first love, I also enjoy escaping with the camera to photograph subjects at a much slower, stress-free pace (shooting a wedding is hard work!).
To get the images I was after on this trip though, I was getting out of bed before sunrise each day. On one hand I wanted to sleep in and catch up on my rest. On the other hand this was a great opportunity to get out there and photograph the place my wife and I love so much. This week I've been on a family holiday in the beautiful Dorset harbour town of West Bay:
My wife and I visited West Bay two years ago, before we were married. It was our first little break in the UK together. Back then we fell in love with the place and promised to come back. The picturesque little harbour, the stunning cliff-top views and the calmness and tranquillity of the the little town meant that we felt thoroughly refreshed after our first trip here, and that's exactly what we were after from this trip. Another bonus that we noticed during our first visit was that we were hardly able to get any sort of reception on our phones and there was no internet access - Starbucks, Costa & McDonalds had still not moved into the area by that point. (many apologies to those people who have contacted me. It seems I've seldom been in a place to send and receive mails.) There is now a Costa on the high street and we seem to pick up reception in most places. There was still a spot here and there where our phones were disconnected from the world. For the record the addition of the new Costa on the high street seems to be about the only thing that has changed in the last two years!
A Hidden Gem
As I mention above; West Bay and the surrounding area of Bridport so far seems to have rejected many of the trends that have swept across other area's perhaps a little more inland. I'm not suggesting that the place is old or dated - I actually prefer this - but there are no signs of super sized shopping centres, only a select few shops on the high street that are occupied by large chains; most of the high street remains dominated by local business and unique one-off shops. This seems to suit the area very well, and the residents too. There is very much a feel that the locals keep their business and trade close to home to support their local community. This is perhaps something missing from where I live in Berkshire. For me, this gives Bridport, and West Bay in particular, the character it has to this day. It's a hidden gem.
Classic with a Modern Twist
A few years back there were a few new buildings put up in the harbour area. Some of them were retail units, including a fantastic little coffee shop called Ellipse. Some of the other buildings were residential. I'm not too sure how well these new buildings were received by the locals, but, seeing that many of the apartments are still vacant, I'd say that they are either over-priced or just not wanted by local people. I'd hazard it's a guess at a combination of the two.
In my opinion the new buildings don't necessarily compliment the existing ones, but they do show that there is a little space for some modernisation of the immediate harbour area. If there were more well-paid jobs in the area I'd move to West Bay in a heartbeat.
Early Morning Long Exposure Photography
I'm a massive fan of a photography technique called Long Exposure. The idea being that the shutter is open for a period of time usually considered too long for most subjects, such as people or wildlife. The reason being is that the longer the shutter is open, the more blur you introduce into an image - with moving subjects you don't want blur! So, for example when I'm photographing a bride walking down the aisle I like a nice fast shutter speed to capture the moment in crisp, beautiful sharpness.
However, when you're photographing certain things, such as clouds or water, the effect that a long, or extended exposure can have can be very dramatic: (click an image in the gallery to view at a larger size)
Fishing Still a Staple Trade at West Bay
On my travels around the UK, to various parts of the South Coast, I've found that a number of Harbours are no longer focussed on their heritage of trading and fishing. After all it's what they were initially built for years ago. Nowadays many harbours seemed to be home to pleasure boats and expensive yachts and have become a place where people can hire a jet ski or go on a boat tour around the area. The harbours seem to be less working harbours as it were. This is not so with West Bay.
Whist you can go on a speedboat ride from West Bay if you like, it's clear that the Harbour itself is still very much home to a few local fisherman and seaman, not offering their boats for thrills and fun. Now, I do enjoy water sports as much as anyone - but it pleases me to see a little harbour such as West bay going strong and staying true. If for nothing the local restaurants are provided with some of the best and freshest fish I've had. That, and some good photo opportunities.:
I took the above image of what appear to be crab cages, all stacked up. I lik that you can see that the cages have all clearly been well used. They're rusty beyond belief and many of them have things clinging to them that I imagine can only be found at sea. The smell was also very potent - the smell of salt and fish. Even though these cages had not moved an inch all week, the smell remained. It must be that they've collectively been submerged in the sea for such a long time that the smell has become permanent! This was another image taken in relative darkness. I set the camera up on the tripod and set the exposure to 30 seconds to let in plenty of light. Again, you can see that this image was a long exposure as there is a small, blurry rag tied to the bar, top right of the image.
One thing I remember thinking when taking this shot was that the fisherman are clearly very messy guys. Look at the state of the place - all those tools just lying around!
In the gallery of images you can see above, you may have noticed in the first of the three images (the only colour image of the the three) that there is a blurry light travelling through the image. You can click that for a closer look if you missed it...Well, that blurry light you see is actually 'Charisma' - a fishing boat that I'd shot just 20 minutes earlier as it sat moored up. It turns out I was at the boat before the fisherman! It was actually very dark that time of the morning (6am!) but there was some ambient light coming from a white street lamp and a little light breaking through the clouds. I say the camera on the tripod again and went for another longer exposure. This one wasn't as long as the images above, but just enough to let the light in to expose the image. You can see in the blue rope in the foreground (right hand side hanging from the winch) that the image isn't a super fast exposure because the rope was blowing in the wind so appears a little blurred. I like this shot so much as the boat has character; it's aged, it's a little rusty and it's features more than a few colours. It's a likeable boat. The name 'Charisma' is quite apt.
Another blog - No Wedding Images to Share
And so, another blog post goes by with no wedding related images to share. I'm starting to think I should just start an entirely new site for my non-wedding photography work! I'd imagine I'd end up using one site for 4 months of the year and the wedding photography site for the other 8 during wedding season though!
For now at least I hope you enjoyed the images from my little family break. At the time of writing I'm actually still down here in Bridport - I've just managed to get myself connected to the WiFi from the cottage next door for a short while to get this out to you. It will be published at 8.30 on Friday 1st March.
Looks like those new buildings down in West Bay were recently used for filming some scenes for a new ITV Drama - Broadchurch, starring David Tennant! Keep an eye out for that one and see if you recognise any of the scenes in the series from my images!
Thanks to Neil Graham at NeilGrahamPhotography for the loan of the Wide Angle lens for this holiday. It's not a typical wedding photographer's lens, but is something almost all good landscape photographers will have in their camera bags. I'll get one soon, but weddings come first...If you have a moment go and admire Neil's work. Some stunning nature and wildlife photo's can be found in Neil's extensive galleries as well as images of motor racing, football and street life! A great way to kill a few hours.