A weekend Castles & Coastlines workshop in Northumberland proved to be a tougher photoshoot than I had expected. You’d think that visiting iconic locations such as Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh Castles the images would be in the bag before setting off. Well, I had to think again! Thankfully I was on one of Doug Chinnery’s workshops again and he was there ready to offer guidance when the going got tough.
The weather proved to be a very mixed bag starting with nice cloud cover and the odd light shower which slowly dissipated into clear blue skies for sunset – not ideal at all. Anyway, i pressed on regardless but feeling a little deflated by the conditions. I had to be more creative and make images from what I had, using the Lee filters 10 stop “Big Stopper” filter proved helpful in some situations but even this had its limitations in these condition.
Using the “Big Stopper” while contending with a rising tide can be a hazardous combination too! I was shooting a series of images of Dunstanburgh Castle while balancing on some large boulders with water already lapping around my feet. Engrossed in the setup and waiting for the exposures, some over 100 secs, I soon discovered that my route back to dry land was now awash, thank goodness for welly boots! It certainly shows how easy and quickly you could be caught out by a rising tide so always be aware of your surroundings. Those rocks were “Slippery When Wet” too – Bon Jovi song in my head now!!
There was a beautiful sunset looking over the boulders to the West but so little cloud to give the sky some drama. Never mind there was always tomorrow i thought. Well, after just 3 hours sleep, tomorrow was here and so was a sky full of cloud, a thick blanket of the stuff, damn, more difficult conditions.
Down on the beach at Bamburgh Castle it was drizzle, still cloudy and misty. Sunrise never happened, well, it happened but I never saw it! This morning marvel was happening somewhere else behind all that cloud. I managed to get a few images in the diffused lighting but the drizzle was getting heavier and it became a constant battle to keep my lens and filter clean. I lost the battle!
Beaten by the rain we all headed back to the B&B to dry off and then get a welcome full cooked breakfast. The B&B, by-the-way, was fantastic, very comfortable, clean and run by a very helpful friendly couple. Here’s a link, I thoroughly recommend it if you are planning a stay at Seahouses.
On the way home we stopped off at a few locations taking in views at West Burton Falls, where Doug introduced me to shooting panoramas, and other locations in the Yorkshire Dales. Another stunning area that I must visit again sometime.
Well, that was my third workshop with Doug and it proved to be the hardest. Blessed with fantastic light and conditions on the other two I suppose I got a little complacent thinking that the images would be in the bag. Doug passed on many tips and techniques again but my biggest lesson learned was not to rely on the weather. Knowing how to be creative when the conditions are not at their best certainly takes a lot of practice, so, I’ll be out in all conditions now trying to hone those skills.