The weather fascinates me, especially extreme weather, so when the weather forums started making noises about a potential ‘big storm’ rolling across the Atlantic and likely to hit South West England I started to pay attention. The timing coincided with a quite spell at work and I had a spare days holiday available so made the decision to head to Cornwall. Before heading down there I did some research on locations to shoot as I had not visited the area with the camera before and also the state of the tides. No point in getting down there to find it’s a low tide! Nowhere near as dramatic if the waves don’t even reach the cliffs.
With the research done and the forecasters firming up the details I headed West from Dorset stopping off briefly in Lyme Regis to capture the Cobb in the storm. While the waves were crashing over the Cobb the light was poor in heavy rain so I left there and headed towards Lands End.
I was around a mile outside of Sennen Cove when I first started to notice salt spray landing on the windscreen and whilst I knew the sea wasn’t that far away I had still not seen the North Coast swell. The moment of glimpsing that first sight of the waves rolling in at Sennen will last long with me… they were huge!
I parked up at Lands End car park and waited for the latest shower to clear over before getting my gear together and heading off to see what I could find. With the rain now clear for the moment I walked past the hotel to the small hut which looked out to the ‘Longships Lighthouse’. First place on my list to shoot. In truth I could have probably done with a slightly longer lens and was a bit split between shooting at 200mm and just getting the lighthouse or shooting slightly shorter and capturing the bigger picture with the nearby rocks. I opted for the latter and whilst it wasn’t pin sharp I think it gives a good reflection of the conditions on scene.
The next shot was from Lands End looking to Sennen Cove. The waves were smashing into the cliff with a small bay inbetween myself and the main point of impact. From here you could not only see the force of the waves against the cliff face but also in the bay as they relentlessly rolled in.
I headed back to the car and after clearing off what seemed to be inches of sea salt from the windscreen I headed off to Sennen Cove. I was planning on heading down to one of the lower car parks but then saw someone stopped at the top of the road looking down into the village with a camera so decided to stop in and see what he could see…… and wow, what a sight! This was the shot looking down into the village with the wave engulfing the cliff and subsequently the village was showered in spray. I stopped and chatted with the guy who was shooting it who was a local chap who I later found out had his shot published on the front page of various national papers. Initially I was a bit annoyed that I hadn’t got back in time to submit my pictures but then it came to me that if he wasn’t there then I wouldn’t have stopped. He was a nice chap and only too willing to offer local advice of where to go and where not to go!
I popped down into the village and captured a few shots from low down but there was so much sea spray around capturing anything clearly was becoming a challenge! One mistake I made was not taking enough lens cloths with me, they soon became useless!
Last spot on my agenda was to Porthleven, a village on the south coast of Cornwall which is now fairly famous in the photography world and as a result when I got there it was BUSY! Busy with photographers. I took up a vantage point on high ground to capture the church and coastline behind it and somewhere safe too! Sadly the light was fading fast but there was still some great action and sights to see. Sadly there were also some idiots getting too close to the sea who nearly got swept in!
So summing up it was an amazing experience to witness and chase. The first view of the waves will last long with me, the noise and witnessing the power was amazing. Sadly as at Porthleven, there was an idiot who thought it was a good idea to jump over the guide rope at Lands End to take pictures right on the edge of the cliff!! Why? What is the point of taking that risk? The power of the mother nature should never be underestimated and you should always respect it.
If I get the opportunity again to do this I certainly will and would happily take some company down there with me. It took quite a bit of planning, routes, times, tides, locations etc. As for lessons learned, well I’ve bought more lens cloths already! I also found I was taking so many pictures that when it came to sorting through them it was a long process! Perhaps I’ll be less trigger happy next time………