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.
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.
I was pleased to get to Cornwall after a busy few weeks or work. I went down to Marazion and tried my hand at intention camera movement for the first time. I also captured some classic St Michael’s Mount images as the sunset over Penzance.
Over the past two weeks I’ve been down at my home in St Ives. Whilst it’s always great to be there, the summer is always full of tourists, and you can spot the locals by their rapid progress along Fore Street (the main shopping street), or along the harbour as they dash into secret short cuts and by pass as many dawdling holidaymakers (they are holiday so why not dawdle?) as possible. This year, the busy areas offer no opportunity to social distance, so my time was spent walking the coast path (more of that in another post), and seeking out places where people were likely to be fewer with more space to spread out.
With a promise of some good cloud cover (some high clouds, but limited coverage), and very little wind, the chance of a good sunset was promised down at Godrevy. I went early, picked a spot to shoot from, and waited. The sunset got better and better, and then after the sun dipped over the horizon, I waited for, what turned out to be quite a lightshow. I hope you enjoy.
We spent the weekend in Suffolk. We couldn’t get on a preferred campsite so we ended up in a budget hotel for a couple of nights. Yesterday I got up at 4am and headed to South Beach in Lowestoft for the sunrise. I was great to feel the sun on my face, the breeze in my hair and listen to the sea as it settled on the beach before retreating once again.
One of the great places along the south west tip of the Cornish penninsular is Porthleven. It gets brutally pummelled by high seas in wintertime as it faces straight at the Atlantic and there is nothing to stop the full forces of the winter storms hitting the village and storm watchers have recorded pictures of waves dwarfing and engulfing the church at the foot of the pier seen here in right of the image. I was here in early Nov last year and spent a day walking along the coast to Mullion before taking a couple of busses back to Porthleven where my car was parked. I arrived in the golden hour and had a chance to shoot some lovely warm images of the harbour, the coast and surfers just beyond the harbour wall. I hope you like them.