Lights and Tones Blog

ON LOCATION: 25/11/17 - Southerndown, Wales

The "Holy Trinity" of seascape photography: low tide, sunrise or sunset and weather. They seldom come together. But once they do the photographer is usually well rewarded. That happened to me on last Saturday.

The weather forecast promised sunny intervals and the time of the low tide exactly matched up with the sunset. I knew I shouldn't miss this opportunity. As I could only leave home at 10am, I had to pick a place I'd already been to. That's why I headed to Southerndown in Wales. This is part of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast. It "stretches for 14 miles, from Aberthaw to Porthcawl with plunging cliffs, secluded coves and breathtaking views it is a must for walkers, cyclists or anyone with a love of the countryside" - as described on the internet.
I arrived at around 1pm and walked straight down to the coast. The description is definitely right as this view awaited me from the clifftop.

The breathtaking view of Southerndown beach from the clifftop

Until sunset I wanted to spend my time with finding possible compositions. And I also did a little warm up with a small waterfall. It was a good practise and also helped to check that all my gear were up to the task later.

There is a small stream coming down from the cliffs. It's on the left side of the picture, hardly can be seen.

After an hour and a half the light conditions started to get better so I went back to a location I had identified earlier as a possible composition. I planned the first shot with bigger rocks in the foreground. I was waiting for the Sun to pop out behind the clouds to have a nice sunstar. Unfortunately I found later at home that my Kood polarizer caused some nasty flares. I left it in the filter holder in spite of the fact that it didn't add anything to the photo. Lessons learned, I will never do it again.

You can see the light diagonal line beside the rock and the curve below it caused by the polarizer

You have to know that on the beach everything changes quickly during low tide. Within 10-20 minutes puddles, small streams can disappear ruining your dream composition. So I decided to walk back and stop where I could see a slight chance for a photo. The Sun was behind the clouds I focused on puddles and interesting rock formations covered by mussels and seaweed. 

For the last couple of photos I turned my camera away from the Sun and also included a part of the beautiful cliffs in the frame. Eventually these become my favourites.

After sunset I climbed back to the car park. I felt a bit tired. Although I only spent 3 hours with photography, the permanent and strong cold wind drained my energy. But at least I felt satisfied, I knew I had some photos with me which could fill the last empty pages in my yearly portfolio book.