Big Seas in the North East of England

October 28, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

I imagine I'm like many Landscape photographers. When you settle down for the evening my thoughts turn to my next trip. I think of the photos and photographers I admire and want to get images that live up to those high standards. Hours are spent looking at The Photographer's Ephemeris to see where the golden rays will shine and the colour will be in the sky. More pages are virtually thumbed as BBC Weather, Accuweather, Clear Outside and other websites and apps are scrutinised to see what the likely cloud and overhead conditions will be like. Will it be windy and ruin those reflection shots or windy and aid those big sea shots. Then there is the consideration of how far and how much cost compared to the likely chances of success. No-one likes wasting money on fuel and that is before the environmental impacts of travelling for your own enjoyment.

There are lots of shots that an average Tog like me wants to bag. They are the building blocks of a portfolio and experience. Yes they are cliches but they are common because they work so well. The waves engulfing a lighthouse is such an image and I dearly wanted to have a shot of my own that I was proud of. So with all that in mind I planned a trip that was in my head for a couple of years. Tynemouth was the venue and a big sea, high tide and wild weather forecast was literally the perfect storm required to get me waking up at 5.00 am to start the adventure.

The first part of the day wasn't to plant. It was frozen cold, blowing a hoolie and persisting down with rain when I arrived at Bamburgh for my sunrise shoot. I got out of the car but that was the limit for me as the scene didn't justify the efforts required and with such a long day planned a soaking at first light was not the way to start proceedings. I decided to get a couple of hours kip and see what transpired thereafter. Next stop was McDonalds and a well earned breakfast and then off to Amble for a very windy hour or so. Nothing special image wise but another venue scouted and put in the memory banks.

Amble BeachAmble BeachBlowing a gale down on Amble Beach
I had a wee drive down the coast and stopped off at St Marys but nothing was really catching my eye so the camera stayed in the bag. At that point the clock had ticked round to 2pm and looking over from St Marys you could see the swell already battering into the breakwater at Tynemouth. Decision made to get there early to get parked and have a good scout about. Parking was free which was a bonus and a short walk found two or three likely compositions. The main one was always going to be to the far side of the pier on a small platform. I made camp there with my giant photo bag but as it turned out all that was needed was a single camera and lens along with some willpower to stand in the cold.

For the first hour the surf built gradually with only the odd wave over the pier and lighthouse. Photographers and tourists came and went and the biggest drama was cleaning the filters from the foam which was getting blown about like giant snowflakes. Once the tide had risen though, the local photographers increased in number and nature really put on a show. Wave after wave crashed over the pier with some clearing the lighthouse top by quite a margin. The sea had built to a stage where the platform was getting the odd soaking from the bigger waves and camera and lens required regular wipe downs. Glad I had my thermals and a big jacket on but in true Geordie fashion I was stood next to a chap in flip flops!

As you looked through a viewfinder and a 200mm lens the action was like a particularly dramatic flick book movie from Blackpool Pier. It really was an incredibly pleasant few hours and the humour and chat from the locals kept everyone's spirits up despite the cold. Normally a 64gb memory card would do me for two months but I quickly went through two 64gb cards and nearly filled a 32gb too. Lots of images to search through and the odd one I am delighted with. As I walked back to the car I had that warm glow of anticipation wondering if I had got the shot I came for. The security guard was moaning that there were boys fishing at the lighthouse and I can make them out in the earlier images. I thought they moved but seemingly they were there through the worst of the waves. Hope they got home safe and have a look at themselves in the mirror for being so stupid.

Delighted with a few of my Tynemouth shots

As a wee bonus I decided to stop at St Marys as it was on the way home. Luck was again on my side with the crashing waves hitting the steps at just the right spot and the mixture of ambient light and artificial lights on the island pretty much as good as it gets. A wee bonus from a venue I have visited 5 times and the first time I have a shot that I have liked.

The end of amazing week with the camera and came home to my Gore Glen image of leave swirls being explored on Flickr and becoming my most successful image on that platform. Back to work now so the trips will be fewer and further between. 

Thanks for reading



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