Slaughden Quay

The last time I came to Slaughden Quay it was to eat fish & chips from one of the two great chippies in Aldeburgh, fending off the seagulls as I devoured the fruits of the sea!

This visit was different.  The chippies were closed and the sun was fading in the sky at the end of the day.  The East Coast is normally associated with the start of the day as the sun rises over the sea.  But I was looking for a classic sunset reflected in the River Alde looking back towards Snape.  A little cloud in the sky and I was ready.  The sun fell below the distant horizon and the sky lit up.

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I got back to the car by the beach as the stars started to shine and I looked out to sea – The Plough, Orion and more started to appear as I sat and watched the waves rolling onto the beach below.

Why not, let’s have a go.  I picked a spot, set up and started to take pictures.  Each one needing a longer and longer exposure as  the light faded.  I thought that the sea would merge into a uniform colour after a while but no.  Even at 8 minutes there were patterns emerging in the deep blue of the ocean.  I could hardly see what was going on, I couldn’t see anything in my camera’s viewfinder but it could see for me.

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I’m rather glad I stopped to watch the stars.  I think I’ll do it again some time…

My time on Slaughden Quay 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, recording what I find and then sharing.  You can follow me on my journey by adding my blog to your feed, liking my Facebook page, circling me on Google+ or following me on Twitter.

Eclipsed by the clouds…

Blog lr_Z4A1847We were lucky enough to have a partial eclipse of the sun here in the UK this morning, though because of the heavy cloud if you weren’t paying attention you’d have missed the slowly changing light levels.  No sight of the sun just a gentle darkening of the sky.

Nonetheless I took the opportunity to do a little low(er) light photography in the middle of the morning down at Languard Point, the southernmost tip of Felixstowe.  Moody skies, bit of a swell on the sea and a camera.  What more would I need?

Is it a painting?

Blog _Z4A1482I sometimes get asked if some of of the images that I create are either paintings or if they’ve been photoshopped.  The answer is an absolute no to the first question and a 99% chance of a no to the second.  I’d rather be out in the landscape than sat in front of a computer spending time in Photoshop.

Those who follow Hennell James Photography on Facebook will have seen that I often post an image taken on my phone when I’m on location.  It’s often a little later that I follow up a blog post and an image from my camera, taken at the same time, but with quite a different look.

Here is an image taken with my phone a moment after the one above that was taken with my DSLR camera.

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The image from my phone is just a snapshot of what is in front of me, just a quick edit, nothing complicated.  The image from my camera is much more how I see what is in front of me.  Again very little editing, just a few tweaks to contrast and saturation in Adobe Lightroom.

The images were made at Iken Cliffs on the River Alde between Snape and Aldeburgh.  Similar composition, similar colours but to me a subtle but different feeling to each.

The morning was quiet, no traffic, a few birds in the dawn chorus and only the slightest breeze.  Calm and tranquil and that’s the feeling I wanted to convey in my final image.  How did I do it?  Taking advantage of the darkness and with a neutral density filter (if you’re not sure what that is think of the effect of a pair of sunglasses) I used a longer shutter speed on my DSLR to give the clouds and the ripples on the river surface time to move and blur whilst everything else was still.

Small things can make a big difference…

My time at Iken Cliffs 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, recording what I find and then sharing.  You can follow me on my journey by adding my blog to your feed, Liking my Facebook page, Circling me on Google+ or following me on Twitter.

Orford Lighthouse

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One of the prominent features on Orford Ness, for now at least, is the lighthouse that stands on the beach overlooking the North Sea.  The current lighthouse has stood there protecting shipping since 1792, but its days are numbered.  Decommissioned in 2013, the beach protecting it from the sea is disappearing with each winter storm that passes and soon it may fall, like the town of Dunwich, into the sea.

Viewed from further south the lighthouse stands tall between buildings with a more sinister past.  Further north along the River Ore, somewhere close to where it becomes the River Alde, the lighthouse is almost alone in the barren open space of Orford Ness.  From a distance across the river and the shingle landscape, even a long lens would not have brought the lighthouse close enough.  Being closer  would have shown it to be large and strong.  The wider view, setting it in open the landscape of brooding clouds shows a more fragile perspective, even a large building of rock and stone will succumb to the power of the sea!

My time opposite the lighthouse on Orford Ness 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, recording what I find and then sharing.  You can follow me on my journey by adding my blog to your feed, Liking my Facebook page, Circling me on Google+ or following me on Twitter.

Orford Ness

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Orford Ness is a place like few others.  From a distance it appears to be a barren landscape, the largest shingle spit in Europe.  Shifted and moulded by the sea as the seasons and the years pass by.  Access is difficult: you either need to swim or take a boat across the river.  The ness is part of a National Nature Reserve and access is restricted.  You could of course walk down the shingle beach from Aldeburgh, it’s a few miles and hard work on the shingle beach.  Never mind the risk of stepping on something nasty left from the past!

From a distance you can see the the remains of buildings left to decay.  There’s an old listening post, a lighthouse which may soon be swallowed by the sea, a black watch tower and some other old buildings.  Then finally some strange structures standing as a testament to the past.

Orford Ness was use in the last century as a testing ground for British ordinance.  It was used for live firing tests as well as vibration tests of triggers for early atomic bombs.  The strange buildings, appearing as a mix between a pagoda and a Greek temple, were used to put the triggers through the rigours that they’d face in flight.  If one exploded the roofs would fall in and smother the blast.

Now the buildings are left to decay and the flora and fauna are left to their own devices.

I arrived well before the sunrise, the moon and stars shining bright against the black sky.  Bitterly cold I settled down in the one spot on the river Alde close to the northern end of Havergate Island and watched the scene develop.  The moon was just a quarter full and not bright enough to use as a light, maybe next time.  Broken cloud started to drift across the sky and as the sky got lighter there was no sign of the sun behind the bank of cloud out to sea.  Normally I love to move around but today the sky did the work for me.  Finally, the sun showed itself streaming thorough the cloud.  Every time I thought of heading off to a warm cafe the sky would change and persuade me to stay for just one more shot.  After 3 hours I finally headed back along the river bank to the warm, a hot coffee and breakfast!

My time opposite Orford Ness 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.

Shingle Street

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Shingle Street is hard to describe.  It rests at the end of a narrow lane, the only buildings are a line of cottages and a Martello Tower.  Looking inland are fields and out to sea mostly empty space.  Banks of shingle come and go with the tide and change shape with the storms that rage in the North Sea.

With all this nothing what could there be to photograph?  We’re so used to being fed information and stimulus we sometimes forget that we can sit, watch and discover for ourselves.  Often it takes too long and we have other things to get on with rather than invest the time in ourselves.

On a cold dreary winter morning before the sun had risen I stood on the beach and watched the waves breaking on the shingle.  I listened to the sound of the pebbles being dragged back into the sea as the waves retreated.  A grating sound that’s hard to describe.  The tide was falling and in its wake the shingle banks emerged, all the time changing the pattern of the waves.  Gulls settled on the banks before lifting once more into the air.

While all this happened the sky lightened as the sun continued its journey to meet the horizon.  Textures started to form in the cloud and colours morphed in the sky, changing all the time.

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The sun finally rose above the horizon and Shingle Street greeted another day.  The waves, the shingle and the gulls carried on as before but somehow the ambiance changed from soft and gentle to bright and glaring.  Another day had begun, Shingle Street returned to the isolated beach you’d expect.

Shingle Streets haunting beauty under wraps for another day.

My time on the pebbles at Shingle Street 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.

Waymarker at Felixstowe Ferry

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It can be frustrating when you know there is something to photograph in a place but you just can’t find it.  This is just what happened to me at Felixstowe Ferry.  I think the Ferry comes from the small boat that takes passengers (and sometimes their bikes) across the River Deben, a different kind of ferry to the ones that have taken passengers across the North Sea to Europe over the years.  The Coast here is constantly being shaped by the North Sea and the shingle banks both on and near the shore move with the tides and the storms that come and go.

I arrived before dawn and took a look along the river where the small yachts are moored, protected from the sea.  It was quiet but for the sea birds and the wind rattling the halyards on the yachts against their masts.

I wandered around for a while but didn’t find any inspiration until I came round the corner where the Deben heads into the sea between the shifting shingle banks.  Posts and buoys mark the safe channel toward the North Sea.

Curves started to emerge in the shingle, shaped by the tides.  I found symmetry in the shingle banks on the horizon, the single post standing tall and even the horizon splitting the frame equally the sea reflecting the sky.

It’s what I’d been seeking for a while. A combination of tide, weather and light all coming together at the right time.

My time on the shingle at Felixstowe Ferry 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.

The Orwell Bridge Standing Tall In The Mist

Orwell Bridge in the mist

 

Orwell Bridge in the mist
Orwell Bridge in the mist

Misty mornings change the way we see familiar scenes.  It’s the difference between harsh sunlight and the soft glow from the moon, a familiar object literally in a different light.  Heading into autumn mists rise more and more, lifting as the warmth of the sun burns them away.  The mist hides buildings and mountains, softens normally graphic structures and muffles sounds all around.

The Orwell bridge is a mass of concrete and steel which carries lorries and cars over the river from which it takes its name.  Drivers thunder across in a hurry whilst down below the River Orwell quietly flows.

Far below the sounds are muffled, it’s quiet and still.  Mist comes and goes carried on the gentle breeze.  The bridge’s gentle curves disappear into the mist on the other side of the river.  But underneath the bridge the curves disappear allowing converging uprights and sharp angles to take over.  Walls of concrete rise from the river to support the road above; the mist softens even these.

I knew when I decided to take a look at the bridge on a misty morning it would look different and I played around looking at the curves of the bridge and their reflections in the river below but they seemed too familiar.  As I walked underneath to take a look from the other side the view struck me a familiar place, a different view.