Mud and cameras are not really good bedfellows. All the tiny gritty dirt can get everywhere inside and out so it’s best to keep them apart!
Knowing all of that I recently returned to Bawdsey to photograph mud. He’s gone mad you’re thinking, well not quite.
I spotted them about a year ago – big patches of clay emerging from under the eroding cliffs. I also saw it in the surf as the waves broke on the shingle beach and thought it was rock. They looked like the limestone pavements in Yorkshire and had the appearance of being carved by the action of the waves and shingle. When I stood on one my boot left a shallow footprint. The Suffolk Coast is not the classic rugged coastline with towering cliffs and boulders but more gentle, in appearance at least! These ‘rocks’ are in fact London Clay left under the sandstone cliffs millennia in the past, re emerging as the cliffs are pulled into the sea. A good hunting ground for fossils apparently!
The day I returned work had started to shore up the sea defences before winter storms started in earnest. Heavy machinery had churned up the fields on the land side of the sea wall so I waded through a pool of slurry nearly a foot deep, glad I was wearing Wellington boots so I could walk in the surf without worrying!
The weather forecast had suggested broken cloud, not the shady grey cloud above. The sea was almost grey. The mud was grey.
Time to watch for the patterns as the waves broke over the mud. There’s always a temptation to see something and hide behind the camera as you snap away but I find I see so much more by stopping, waiting and watching. Waves have patterns, not just in the flow of water on the beach as they come and go but in the variation in size and direction as they interact with hidden objects under the surface. It can take a few minutes to tune into these and work out when to press the shutter. It’s usually well worth the wait.
My time on the beach at Bawdsey is part of a journey north along the Suffolk coast from Languard Point at the southernmost tip to its border with Norfolk. Along the way I’ll be exploring and recording what I find and then sharing.