A Day in Suffolk

October 12, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

My recent trip to Suffolk had been a few weeks in the making but was hastened by fog and mist which was becoming fairly widespread. A trip to Dunwich affords me a number of contrasting opportunities within a localised area; cliffs for dawn, the heath for misty shots, the beach for some mood and the nearby forest for some foliage and perhaps a bit of ICM(Intentional Camera Movement).

Having selected a day I kept my eye on the forecast; 24 hours prior it became obvious that with an increasing wind my hope for mist was blown away but undeterred I set off in order to be on the cliffs at Dunwich about 45 minutes before sunrise. The forecast suggested cloudy skies but as I neared Dunwich the first signs of light suggested broken cloud over the coast. On arrival at a deserted Dunwich Cliffs I was not disappointed. For the next hour I was overjoyed to experience one of those kaleidoscopic dawns; the light ever changing particularly 180 degrees from the horizon, often overlooked because people become transfixed on the eastern sky.

I find subtlety of the delicate colours fascinating and tend to concentrate my shooting on this part of the sky. My hunch that the forecast would be wrong was based on many such similar experiences, trust your instincts not the forecast!

With cloud rolling in from the north west I moved across to Dunwich Heath to make the most of what remained of the very directional light; no mist & the heather was way past its best but I still had the time for a few compositions for next time.

By now the best of the light had gone so after a coffee and sandwich on top of the cliffs I drove to Dunwich itself to spend some time on the large shingle beach. Isolated and desolate beneath the ever increasing cloud it was ideal for composing some moody images. If I had one disappointment it was that the wind was off-shore with very little tidal movement. Still landscape photographers have to adapt and make the most of natural conditions. A couple of beached fishing boats and the distant horizon along with the moving cloud was enough for me to work with.

Dunwich is a great destination because it offers at least 4 very different locations in a small area and it is within a reasonable distance of home so I moved from the beach to Dunwich Forest, again only a short drive away. It was too early in Autumn for me to expect much colour other than green but an hour spent wandering through the deserted Forest proved fruitful. All too often one considers the bigger picture but there are times, this particular morning in point, when it is the detail that can lead to interesting compositions.


I had had a very satisfying morning and was pleased with what I had captured but until I could see my images at 100% I could not be sure I had succeeded. The LED screen on a camera is fine for judging composition and to some extent sharpness but it is the camera histogram which tells me whether or not I have captured enough digital data to form the basis of a strong image. I think I mentioned a bit of ICM; well I am rather pleased with a couple of images created in this way, one of which is shown below.


To conclude my trip I had one final image to capture, namely the Orwell Bridge just south of Ipswich. I wanted to shoot it from a low position on the south east side. Of course I picked the most awkward place to get to but get to it I did although I was almost thwarted by a clump of trees. Fortunately the tide was ebbing so I was able to clamber down on to the foreshore. I used my 70 - 200mm lens to foreshorten the perspective of the concrete structure enabling the slight but sinuous curve to become the focus of my composition. I knew that my final output would be in monochrome, something about concrete structures that scream out for black and white.

Just a brief description of a typical day on location preceeded by planning and visualisation. These things are in my hands, others such as the light are out of my control but when given such a great palette to work with it is up to me to use my skills and vision to create images that will be admired and ultimately purchased. Much as I love what I do and am fortunate to have the opportunity to fulfil my dream the harsh reality kicks in when producing art to sell. Impossible to know what people will like and be prepared to buy so I try to have an eclectic output for this very reason. Only time will tell.


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