I have been asked to talk about photography in Cornwall on BBC Radio Cornwall and thought I’d share some of my favourite pictures I have taken.
Here are some things you might want to consider to make the best of your photography opportunities in Cornwall
For me, I like to find some peace and solitude so I seek out places that are perhaps a little less busy than the main tourist hotspots. You can find these by walking half a mile along the coast from most villages and you’ll usually find you have the location to yourself. Also if you want to shoot the most photographed locations, go either early or late. Remember some of the best light is before the sunrise or around 20 minutes after sunset.
Here are some of my favourite places
Land’s End (Half a mile in the opposite direction to Sennen)
St Ives (esp. Porthmeor and Porthgwidden)
The mines at Chapel Porth and at Botallack
Marazion (St Michael’s Mount)
I love the old fishing villages of Mevagissey, Port Issac, Polperro, Padstowe, and, of course, St Ives. Go early to capture fewer people and better light.
Capturing the scene
Virtually all cameras and most phones these days are capable of taking outstanding images. Here are some ideas to think about.
The best light (and therefore best images) is usually at the beginning and the end of the day. Blue skies are wonderful to enjoy but blue skies in the middle of the day can make for somewhat harsh images.
A sunrise/sunset doesn’t make a great picture in and of itself. Think about some foreground interest
Check the tide times on an app like “My Tide Times” and if you not sure about how to find a location/parking area, look at Google Earth.
Sometimes the best light and views are behind you. If you are looking at a sunset, the light from the falling sun will be making beautiful golden light on the things behind you.
In addition to taking big vistas, take pictures of small details that give the flavour and tell the story of your visit to a location (doorways, fliower pots, cobbles, steps, sand, shop windows, people).
Remember to capture your group – you’ll be pleased you have a picture of your granny in years to come.
A tripod can be useful if you want to capture moving water (waves – a 0.5 second exposure can be very pleasing). You might need to adjust your camera to make this happen.
Try using a wide aperture (the lower the “f-stop” number the wider the aperture to make backgrounds out of focus to make your subject stand out)
Move about (up/down/left/right) to find the best composition – small changes in where you shoot from can make big differences to the image
Using filters/editing software to bring the best out of your image
Phone apps like Snapseed and VSCO and even Instagram have some great features to edit and improve your image. Be careful as a little editing goes a long way. I prefer to edit carefully so the final image looks natural.
I set an early alarm for a drive to the coast last weekend and tried to shoot some new views of the beach at Felixstowe, getting some nice shots of a groyne as the sun rose and some pictures at the pier. Felixstowe continues to offer new photography challenges to me and is nearest coastline to where I live, and I needed a coastal fix.
In this video I use my Fujifilm X-T3 with a 10-24mm and an 18-55mm zoom lens to shoot minimal seascape photographs of a seawater inlet/outlet for the nuclear power-station at Sizewell, Suffolk, UK. For longer exposures I use a Lee Filters 6 Stop ND filter on my wider lens and a K&F Concept variable ND filter on the 18-55mm lens which is the only ND filter I have for the that lens. There is very little on the beach to create compositions so the seawater inlet/outlet sanction is serves as a simple focus for some minimal images.
During August I was lucky enough to spend some time in Cornwall, and used a sunrise shoot to take some wave movement shots. For some I used a long lens, got down low to capture the rising son on the waves, pre-focused and shot at a fast aperture. For another set, I chose a wide lens, set the aperture to half a second and moved the camera as I shot for these evocations of the beach.
Can a single body, a single lens and a single film simulation drive your creativity? In this video I picked my FUJIFILM X-T20, a single FUJINON 27mm f2.8 lens and the MONOCHROME+R film simulation to tell the story of a day out in London at the end of June 2021 as the city began to come out of lockdown and personal restrictions were beginning to be lifted. The choice to restrict my gear meant that only choices I had to make were those of subject, composition, and aperture (I was shooting in aperture priority with ISO set at 400).
Last week I had a holiday in South Wales and Cornwall with my lovely wife, and new puppy. Most of the time was spent chasing the puppy around, visiting friends and relations, and strolling on the beach and there was not much time for photography. However, on the advice of a taxi driver that the evening was going to be exceptionally clear, that there would be no moonlight (which stymies astrophotography), I went out for a sunset shoot at Cape Cornwall (I’ll post separately), and then moved onto the Crown Mines at Botallack. Now, given that I went out on this shoot on a whim, I didn’t have a torch and my phone was nearly dead, so when I got to the base of the cliffs to set up a shot of the mines on the cliff face, I realised that the 300 ft drop I had struggled to make my way down would be in total darkness on the way back up. I was not confident that I could make the climb in the dark and felt I might fall, so I packed up and climbed back up the cliff in last light. Walking back towards the car, fairly disgruntled, I saw the pump house and mine chimney silhouetted against the darkening night sky filled with stars. Confident that I could now get back to the car safely, I set up and took this shot. I hope you think it was worth it. Best, Keith
I got up ridiculously early to head down to Porthcurno to capture sunrise. I got there early enough that I caught some stars before the sun rose. Below is some of the images I captured on a beautiful morning of photography, peace and tranquility.
At the beginning of April 2021, as UK lockdown#3 began to lift, I headed for the nearest coastline from my home for a grey, pre-dawn photoshoot, with my FujiFilm X-T3, and shooting b-roll with my brand new DJI Pocket 2. I made some long exposures of Cobbold’s Point at high tide, some ICM (Intentional Camera Movement) studies of the beach, and some beach hut “street” photography.