It seems to me that there is often a bit of tension between walking and photography! By that I mean that sometimes photography spoils a good walk. Why? Simply because you can become so engrossed in trying to capture the ultimate competition winning shot and almost miss what is going on around you. And then when you get home and you haven’t got the prize picture you were hoping for, the day seems fruitless.
At some point I decided that I would either walk and focus on the countryside and surroundings, just taking the compact camera to capture memories of the day or I would go out specifically to take photographs and take the DSLR. That way I enjoy walking or I enjoy taking ‘real’ pictures rather than trying to do both on the same day and getting neither. In reality it rarely works and I often end up trying to do both because I find it difficult to switch off from thinking ‘photography’ and there is always that nagging feeling that today just might the day when the light, the scene and the conditions are perfect……..and you haven’t got your camera!
Well on this day I did go out specifically to capture pictures……although I still managed to walk nearly 10 miles!
I was heading for the coast as I really wanted to capture something of the ruggedness of the Dorset coastal quarries and the somewhat grey, overcast and even stormy day was perfect for the purpose. My outward route started in a small village and then followed an inland path known as The Priests Way, so called because in olden times it was the route taken by the priest as he covered the two villages at each end. On the way I passed the rather strange tiny bus stop below – clearly meant for little people ;)!
Near the end of the track I turned south and headed towards the Dorset Coast Path, passing the rather unusual wall below.
Having reached the coast, I first headed for my favourite quarry. I think the reason I like it is that it is tiny and little known, in fact you could easily walk past it and not even realise it is there. But climb down into it and you find yourself half way up the cliff face, all alone and with just a sheer drop below you – the picture below was taken on an earlier visit.
Sat on that ledge is a great place to eat lunch whilst watching the waves crashing onto the rocks below. I wanted to get a picture that illustrated a quarryman’s view so I set up the camera and tripod to do some long exposure pictures to bring out the contrast between rocks and water. At the processing stage I turned the image into a sepia toned picture as it seemed to suit the subject and my intention. The result is below.
From this point, my route took me along the coast path, passing numerous quarries of varying size along the way. Rather than stop at each quarry, I chose the ones that I wanted to capture, each time setting up my camera, tripod, filters etc…….which of course I had to pack away again before moving on.
At the next quarry, I stood looking out at the sheer vastness of the sea and sky and the perpetual motion of the waves and clouds, ever moving and ever changing. In a feeble effort to record what I felt, I set up the camera again for another long exposure shot to give the feeling of movement and the ever changing scene.
Looking down, it was again the constant action of the waves pounding the coastal rocks below that spoke to me of the hard conditions that the quarrymen must have endured as they transported the rocks away from the cliffs in small boats before delivering them to the larger barges waiting further out to sea. This must have been a seriously hazardous occupation and I cannot imagine what it must have been like manoeuvring huge rocks between vessels whilst both were being pounded by waves.
And the waves are just relentless, like a giant perpetual motion machine, they never stop, never tire, but continue to pound the coast, gradually eroding the land. Minute by minute, hour after hour, day after day, year after year, the waves come and the tide ebbs and flows, sometimes gently and sometimes powerfully but never ceasing. It is a wonderful thing to watch….and frustrating to try to capture in a single image!
Eventually I left the quarry and headed up to another of my favourite locations, a barren and exposed headland with just a few stark buildings, buildings with a history. And again, I wanted to capture the feeling of the barrenness, the exposure to the elements, rather than just the scene itself. This is what I call the fourth dimension in a picture. Not an easy task as the wind was whipping across the headland and the light was going fast. I set up the tripod and shot the pictures below which I later converted to black and white as this really does help to bring out the mood well. The first was taken using a wide angle lens to bring out the huge expanse of the sky whereas in the second I focussed more on the cottages them selves.
The row of cottages is in fact a group of old coastguard cottages built in 1895. The coastguards and their families were originally housed at Chapman’s Pool, far below but moved to the top of the headland when these cottages were built. These in turn were vacated in 1950 following complaints about the remoteness of the site and difficulties getting children to school. The building to the left originally housed the cart that contained all the life saving equipment.
I decided that I would do another long exposure shot which I gave a dated feel to in the processing. The streaks are the movement of the clouds.
In addition to the cottages, there is a Norman chapel on the headland. This square, squat building in fact contains features that indicate it may not have been built originally as a chapel and there are suggestions that it might have been erected as a watchtower for the nearby Corfe Castle allowing for early sightings of enemy ships.
However, it is built in the centre of a low earthwork of Christian origin and records show that there was a paid chaplain in the time of King Henry III which tends to contradict the earlier suggestion. I guess we will never know for certain but either way, it is a wonderfully bleak and open place.
With the light fading and with it my hopes for a glorious sunset, it was time to pack up and continue on my journey back to the starting point of my walk. Walking along the cliff top in the gathering gloom is always special with the gusting wind in my face and the storm clouds overhead. It was a fitting end to a glorious day out with the camera.
Thanks for reading.
Until next time,
The Dorset Rambler.
If you would like to contact me, my details are on my website which is http://www.yarrowphotography.com – comments and feedback are welcomed.
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