My guide to Saltwick Bay

The three Icons of Saltwick Bay

Saltwick bay is a little gem of a location on the North Yorkshire coast, situated just south of the fishing port of Whitby.  It offers an abundance of photographic opportunities that are all compacted into a relatively small area.

The bay consists of a small sandy beach surrounded by high cliffs and flanked on either side by flat shale shelves. These shelves hold two local icons, ‘Saltwick Nab’ and the probably more well known, ‘Black Nab’.

Black Nab viewed from the beach

The ‘Black Nab’ is situated on the southern shelf.  It has a distinctive shape similar to that of a submarine coning tower and close to the base of this can be found the remains of the ‘Admiral Von Tromp’, a Scarborough based fishing trawler that ran aground in 1976 with the sad loss of two lives.  There is an abundance of rocks in this area that offer interesting abstract compositions and you may also find ammonite fossils which this area is also famous for.

The 'Whale shaped' Saltwick Nab

On the northern shelf you will find ‘Saltwick Nab’, a somewhat ‘breeching whale’ shaped rock prominence again surrounded by a shale shelf offering similar textured rocks, some of which have very bizarre patterns and deep grooves that seem almost unreal.

One of many abstract composition opportunities

The Bay has another trump card up its sleeve though.  The fact that it is North East facing makes it a very unique location because in the height of summer you can capture the sun rising and setting over the sea, quite novel considering you are on the east coast.

So, you could literaly spend all day here from dawn to dusk, tide permitting.  Talking of which the location really need to be photographed with a falling tide, there is little beach available at high tide, and to get close to the ‘Back Nab’ and wreck site you need the tide to be almost at low water.  Do not photograph the shelves or nabs on a rising tide, there is a real danger of being cut off by the tide.  I use the tide tables here http://www.pol.ac.uk/ntslf/tides/?port=0174 but always consult your usual reliable tidal references.

Now, how to get there.  The bay is located from Hawksker Lane which is the road that takes you to Whitby Abbey.  From there turn left up the lane to Whitby Holiday Park and then park in the layby by the park entrance.  To get down to the bay walk along the cliff top towards the holiday park and you will come across the path that leads down to the bay.  This path can be quite muddy and slippery in places especially after wet weather so take care and wear good suitable footware.

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LPOTY 2010 Entries

Well, after much thought and deliberation I finally decided to place some images in this years Landscape Photographer of the Year competition.  It’s very difficult to know, or preempt, what the judges will be looking for and looking at the previous years winners it seems there is a mixed bag. 

So, I sat with my wife and agonised for some time which to enter and came up with a group of 5 images.  Yes, I like them and so do many other people judging by the comments I have received on them, but what will the judges make of them? 

Well, it’s my first ever photographic competition entry so I’m hoping for some beginners luck for starters.  Now I’ve submitted them though I kind of feel that I’m way short of the mark, in a self doubting kind of way.   Have I applied enough thought into which images to upload?  Are they exposed and processed correctly?  Do they stand out from the others?  Are they just run-of-the-mill images?  These are very difficult questions to answer.  Anyway, it’s out of my hands now and into those of the judges.  For now though, I’m treating this as a learning experience.  If I get some recognition of my efforts then BONUS!!  For me that’s a win!!  Yes, it would be nice to be crowned ‘Landscape Photographer of the Year 2010’  but I know for sure that’s well our of my reach – maybe one day!!

Northumberland

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.

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