Suffolk Coast Workshop with Justin Minns by Patrick Smith
This was part three of the trilogy of workshops that I had been fortunate enough to attend during the Autumn of 2021 and this location was in stark contrast to the autumnal woodland settings of the first two workshops. We were gathering at Southwold pier in Suffolk to spend the day visiting 3 locations on the coast – with hardly a tree in view!
Meeting at first light by the entrance to the pier – originally built in 1900 and re-built after severe storm damage in 1934 – the design is unusual having much of its length taken up with wooden buildings rather than the usual open promenades. There are good vantage points for taking photographs from either side of the pier and we set up tripods and cameras at different points to take advantage of the early morning light. With a very calm sea the opportunity to flatten the water with long exposure shots seemed an ideal option.
The sun eventually came into view above a band of cloud on the horizon and afforded some good reflections off the pier and on the sea. Justin was of great help in assisting with suggestions as to the best use of graduated filters and shutter speeds. A couple of hours seemed to pass by very quickly and Justin suggested that we moved on up the coast to the dunes at Denes beach - rather than going to the café for breakfast. This proposal was met with some concern – maybe even a hint of revolution in the air! However, Justin quickly quelled this and reassured us that there was a great café by the dunes - but it did not open until 9.30 - if we could hold out for a little longer!
With the sea breeze picking up, the sand dunes offered the opportunity to compose a shot with some movemaent from the grasses in the foreground contrasted by the brightly coloured row of beach huts. Having explored the possibilities of different compositions on the beach we were ready for refreshment and enjoyed a great breakfast [my choice of eggs benedict was delicious!] at the ‘Sail Loft’. [Put it on your list of destinations when you next visit Suffolk!]
Feeling invigorated we set off to drive south to Sizewell Beach. At one end of the beach is the brutalist architecture of the decommissioned Sizewell A reactor – and just offshore two derelict platforms which at some time in their existence would have had an important part in the pumping of water to cool the reactor. Now they offer a resting place for the seabirds and interesting structures for photography - capturing man’s industrial legacy set against the permanence of the sea surrounding them.
The beach also offered some great opportunities for landscape and abstract photography amongst the fishing boats and equipment which always appears to be jettisoned randomly across the shore by the fishermen. I had enjoyed a great morning with 3 different coastal locations plus the bonus of the good company of Justin and the other RPS members! All that was left was the drive back to Sussex with the hope that no-one had glued themselves to the road at the Dartford Bridge!
All Images © Patrick Smith
This article was first featured in the RPS Landscape Group Newsletter, May 2022.
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