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On Location in Suffolk by Paul Byrne
26th February 2023
In this companion piece to our tour leader Ed Rumble’s musings on ‘Waterland’, Paul Byrnereflects on a successful few days of photography with Light & Land on the Suffolk coast.
A recent weekend trip to Suffolk offered a great opportunity to shoot many locations thatwere suited to my minimalist style of photography. The east coast of England from Sizewell to Felixstowe offered many varied subjects for landscape photography. The trip took placein early November. We were blessed with dry weather although on some occasions some ofmy fellow photographers felt that the sky was boring as it was blue and relatively cloudless.I do not consider this to be a problem as I think a featureless sky is a bonus for some of my compositions.
Sizewell was the first location, visited in the early afternoon. There are several unique interesting subjects at this location. The two water cooling platforms that are a few hundred yards off shore make interesting subjects.I am one of those photographers who can’t resist structures in water. I photographed the platforms from a variety of angles, both individually and as a pair.The almost cloudless sky was a bonus as it allowed me to accentuate the minimal look of the images. The other dramatic subject at this location is the domed roof ofthe Sizewell B nuclear power station. The sunlight created an interesting shadow on the right side of the dome which added to the interest. I opted for a closer crop of the power station so that I could accentuate the dramatic appearance of the dome.
Shingle Street was a location that offered so many possibilities for simple minimal compositions.Two hours were spent there mid-morning. However, the location offered somany possibilities that I would have been happy to stay there all day!.This location is best photographed at low tide. As the water rises with the incoming tide, there is a constant shifting of the banks of shingle that gradually become covered by the sea.The clean curved lines of the shingle contrasted perfectly with the water and the sky. Two lone cottages reflecting in a saltwater pool offered a nice focal point. There were numerous possibilities for compositions that allowed me to experiment with the curved shoreline ofthe shingle contrasting with the sea which was quite calm. Most of my exposures at this location were between 30 seconds and one minute.
The estuary of the Rive Alde offered countless possibilities for interesting compositions.There were several half-submerged old boats close to the shore that satisfied my need for structures in water. This location needs a high tide so that the old boats are in the water. At low tide they would be sitting on mud and would not be quite so photogenic. I chose to isolate the boats against the water and eliminate the sky and any background detail. Apart from the old boats, there were many other options at this location, but I was happy to give my undivided attention to these beautiful textured structures that contrasted nicely with the smooth water. Exposures at this location were for 30 seconds. The boats remained still as they were embedded in the mud of the estuary.
Cobbolds Point was another location that satisfied my incessant need to photograph structures in water.There are two beautifully curved sea defences, each with a triangular green marker at the distal end. The combination of the curved structures, the repeating pattern of the concrete blocks and the marker at the end were perfect for more minimalist photography. Anexposure of 60 seconds smoothed the water and softened the clouds which enhanced the composition.
A sunrise shoot on Southwold Beach at high tide gave an opportunity to shoot the full length of the Victorian pier in water. Once again, I opted for the minimalist approach usingan exposure of 60 seconds to smooth the water and the clouds. I prefer a relatively featureless sky with just a hint of cloud, softened by a long exposure. I feel that this helps to emphasise the graphic structure of the pier. When I had satisfied myself that I had areas on able shot of the pier, I walked underneath it and tried a classic shot looking down along the underside of the pier. This turned out to be my favourite shot at this location.
Most of the locations were by the sea. The only shot without water taken during trip was this one of a dead tree. I feel that the texture of the wood and the reeds contrasts nicely with the sky. I think that a cloudy back drop would have detracted from the impact of the tree which stands out in stark contrast to the almost featureless sky.
This was my first visit, but definitively not my last, to the east coast of England. It is an arearich in natural beauty with numerous locations that will not fail to satisfy the landscape photographer
Taken during a Light & Land Photography Tour Suffolk 2023.