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January 15th 2022 - Hengistbury Head

My bonus Saturday session from the last blog had done nothing to satisfy my photography craving, so on the 15th January (Sunday) I set an early alarm to make the trek across to Hengistbury head to try and catch a sunrise and some seascapes.


Hengistbury Head is favourite Shaw family walk location, so I bribed my photofriend Simon with a fried breakfast in return for a lift, and then I would meet up with my wife and boys later on. Photofriend Simon could fend for himself at that point as he was not welcome around my wife and family after that incident on the camping trip.


The forecast was mostly cloudy and grey, but there was a chance of a break. However, as we arrived the only thing that was clear was that not much was going to happen; the 70% cloud cover we were promised was at least 120%. I thought that might lead to some interesting minimalist shots from the lagoons and beaches facing the beach huts, but nope - flat and boring, adjectives that would have accurately described the wave action on the seafront too. So despite setting out at 5 in the morning and driving an hour and a half to shoot seascapes, I went and sulked in the woods instead!

In the absence of light the beach huts just look flat and boring. I could have pushed the edit I guess but that's not really me...a turd dressed in an Armani suit is still a turd (for clarity that's a phrase i'm using to describe the photo, not me in a suit)

Long exposure shots of boats are a great idea in theory, untill you remember that even moored boats are moving. Blurry boats (when they're the main focus of a scene) don't really work that well. Paddle boarders who linger in frame for just long enough for it to seem unaccidental also disrupt the creative process a little!


There wasn't a great deal of light or atmosphere in the woods, but I did think the deep orange of the bracken had photographic potential. I experimented with the Lichen in this shot to see if that could add some interesting colour contrast. It looked ok but I couldn't get a good composition in all that mess.




Simpflifying things improved the composition a little, but took away a lot of the interest - a bit of side light would have worked wonders at this point.....





I kept finding potential compositions amongst the tangle, and there were some really nice colour combinations to be found, but everything was looking a bit samey samey...




Lather rinse repeat.....









After a little while there was a small patch of brightness, so I decided to shoot towards that a little bit more. This resulted in the image below, my favourite shot from this little section, and the first photo from the morning that I'd consider adding to my social media feed (note the change in hue on the ferns - I'd added my polariser at this point on account of the 'light')

With at least one shot in the bag I decided to continue exploring and came across the Game of Throneseqsue tree you'll see in the images below - it looked great on the day, but I can imagine it looking even more impressive with some proper misty light...one to bookmark for a future visit.


Although it was an impressive specimen, it was quite tricky to frame. Knowing I'd likely get it better in the future I took a couple of half hearted compositions - the second of which I actually like!

I thought the trees in the foreground might look like they're guarding the main tree, but in reality they probably just serve to block it and nothing more!

A tighter pano on the main tree itself removed the obstacles. I really would have loved to have got more of the tree in the frame, but the sky between the branches was too dsitracting. Some mist should sort that out...


Spinning the camera around revealed a few more scenes that I quite liked, although I would say they're more in the category of the earlier shots from the day (same old same old) than the pano...

I'm hoping it will be possible to revisit this area later in the year however there were signs warning that there had been vandals taking drugs and taking part in 'tree felling activity', so there's every chance this section will have been ruined (or have been blocked off) by then. Now it's been a while since I was young and fun, but even at my most ignorant I can't ever imagine thinking it was a lark to get high and uproot some ancient oaks - convince me I'm wrong I guess?

There might be merit in revisiting some of these images and converting them to black and white, based on my feelings about the photo below..

At that point the phone rang and the family had arrived, so the camera was stowed.


In the end we were all winners - I'd expected a day of beach photography but came away with some nice woodland shots, Photofriend Simon had come expecting a big breakfast but ended up with a bacon roll because breakfast stopped at 10:30, and my wife got to parade me around in public in my full photography clobber (sh*tty wellies and all) like a prize at the poor wives fair.

Until next time..

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