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?

The River Alde in the moonlight

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Snape Maltings is known as a major concert venue in Suffolk but part of its appeal to me is what lays behind the old buildings heading along the river towards the sea.  The reed beds along the Alde wind away from the Maltings past Iken and on towards Aldeburgh.

The reeds change with the breeze, the time of day and the hue of the light.  Changing light morphs the reeds from almost grey under a cloudy sky to a golden orange in the low sun at the beginning and end of the day.  But in the hour after the sun has set, lit by the glow of the moon high in the sky, they look different again, taking on a ghostly appearance as they sway in the breeze.

I didn’t notice to start with.  I’d been further along the river capturing a more conventional sunset but on my way back to the Maltings I spotted a curved stand of reeds in the river standing above the river at high tide.  I stopped for a moment and watched.  Stars and planets coming out of the clear sky and the moon glowing brightly above me.  Time to unpack the camera once more.  Long exposures as night took hold once again.

I’m glad I stopped and looked…

My time amongst the reeds on the River Alde 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.

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.

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.

Mud, glorious mud!

Photograph mud

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.

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.