The instructions were to meet in the car park at 10.00 am prompt, and the participants were all duly present… trying to make each other heard in the 40 mph wind gusting considerably more that was blowing over the headland. But the sun was shining and it wasn’t cold, such has been the extraordinary weather this year. Our workshop leader Robert Harvey arrived and gave us a clear briefing for the day that lay ahead. We also learned how these remarkable parallel rock ridges particularly at Welcombe Beach were created, being the result of geological folding during the Devonian period. Robert made helpful suggestions how we might consider photographing the rocks, taking advantage of the stormy windy weather. This was by using a variety of long exposures and faster action shots capturing wave motion.
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Welcombe Beach © Suzy Braye
Welcombe Beach, participants in action © Chris McIntosh
Hartland Quay © Graham Fone
Hartland Quay © Suzy Braye
We didn’t have to walk too far to the first location, the headland view point looking down on to the sea crashing over the rocks below. Robert had meticulously planned the workshop to coincide with the height of the tide and date of the course to give us the best opportunities to photograph these locations. Long exposures from the headland were challenging due to the buffeting of the wind (sturdy tripods needed), but the seas were powerful and gave for some magnificent waves for us to capture. Robert gave individual tuition to us in turn, offering advice on how to improve our photography skills, enhanced compositions and suggesting ways to take alternative views. You knew it was getting serious when Robert put on his specs to check the sharpness of images! We spent the rest of the morning working our way around the headland and down the beach slipway taking advantage of the varying view points and changing seascape as the tide fell. In the continuing sunshine, this was an excellent vantage point for Robert to show us the way to use graduated and ND filters.
Hartland Quay © Stephen Roberts
Hartland Quay © Elizabeth Roberts
Late morning we moved down the coast to Welcombe Beach, again with perfect planning with the tide at mid levels revealing the structure of the unusual bedrock. Before the shoot, we had time for a picnic lunch in a sheltered spot and much enjoyable time to get to know each other. This beach again gave Robert the opportunity to spend time with each of us, reviewing images we had taken and offering guidance and suggestions for potential improvements. There’s nothing like a challenge!
Blackchurch Rock © Graham Fone
Then it was back to the cars for the final cavalcade to the last viewpoint of the day, Blackchurch Rock at Mouthmill Beach. This was a bit of a walk but scenic through the National Trust woodlands and well worth the effort for the outstanding rock structure that revealed itself as we rounded the final corner of the path and onto the beach. As we were now used to, Robert’s planning was perfect and we each had the opportunity to photograph this exceptional structure, albeit a daring scramble over the slippery rocks, using a small rock pool as foreground whilst enjoying the golden rays from the setting sun. After shooting the rock, there was time to photograph the textures and formations of the rocks on the beach in gentle diffused light.
Milmouth Beach © Chris McIntosh
The workshop was a great success, and thanks again to Robert for his pre-planning, organisation and clear instructions to the participants. Apart from the new technical and creative skills we learned, it was equally enjoyable to have the opportunity to meet like minded photographers, enjoying each other’s company sharing stories and experiences.
Welcombe Beach © Suzy Braye
Hartland Quay is a bit off the beaten track for most photographers, but anybody considering venturing to North Devon will not be disappointed. The Hartland Quay Hotel, and its adjoining Wreckers bar and restaurant provide a comfortable stay with good pub grub. Photographers staying here can take advantage of capturing sunrises and sunsets just outside of your room.
Future RPS Landscape group events can be found here