I was at the Robert Canis workshop in Reculver in December when my Leica was very new and I was struggling to work out how to kick in the slow shutter speeds. So much so that I I could only take the post sunset shots by cranking up the ISO. On the train back into Victoria I pored over the user guide that thankfully I'd uploaded to my iPad and fathomed out the issue. I like to have my camera utterly quiet, no revealing clicking noises. It seems that the silent mode on my shiny new Leica, forces on the electronic shutter which then deprives you of the slow shutter speeds. So the answer was simply to have a louder camera.
The opportunity came up to visit the same spot again, but this time in the summer. For and L(a) had already signed up and when another spot became available, I snapped it up. In the end F had another more arduous cycling commitment, so L(a) and I reverted back to a journey by train. The only slight fly in the ointment was the last train from Herne Bay back into London Victoria departs at just past 10pm all year round. Back just before Christmas, we were shooting in the inky darkness before 5pm, over six months later the sun will just have set 5 hours later. Definitely no light painting of Reculver Tower this time.
But we hoped they'd be plenty of fine photo ops before we had to high tail it out of there.
When we arrived the conditions looked very positive and we each found a spot to set up the tripod and aim for a not too cluttered photograph. This North Kent coast beach gives us a few possibilities. At one end the Reculver Tower provides a distant focal point and behind us are some orangey cliffs. The sky seems to be going on endlessly and in front of us, the waves are breaking softly over the rock pool strewn beach, with the wind farm on the horizon. And above it, an ever-changing sky. It's almost an embarrassment of riches.
I start of by training my camera at the Tower, the sky is a soft cornflower and reflected in the rock pools.
After spinning around 90 degrees, the sky appears so much more dramatic, with a large triangular cloud above me. The dying sun is reflected in the deep ridges in the sand adding a welcome texture.
Turning around again, a trio of woman walking their dog seem to be perfectly coordinated with the blue of the sky and the warm terracotta of the cliffs. And even the white if the dog is echoed in the reflected pools. I loved the fact that in less than twenty minutes the sky is dotted with tiny fluffy clouds that I suspect has been applied by a painter with a dry paintbrush.
Then again I returning as my attention is caught by another dog walker pausing to admire the setting sun. Though I don't seem to caught his dog sniffing around the beach.
I'm now getting dizzy. I decide to find a fine spot to capture the reflection of the cliffs behind me in the pools on the sand. As the sun dips lower the oranges of the cliff walls are accentuated, vibrantly mirrored in the pooling water.
The is getting darker blue streaking with orange, and we've just over an hour before we have to leave. And I really don't want to leave all this.
As the sky gets more dramatic I want to capture more and more of it. I get as far back as I can, and as low as I can and try to record this fabulous multicoloured canopy above us.
Every minute the situation changes, the pink and purple clouds appear, the oranges get hotter and the sand darker. I am twirling around firing off dozens and dozens of photographs in awe of the scene evolving above and around me. The time is ticking and the gorgeous pinks are intoxicating, but I mustn't get too distracted and miss the taxi to the station.
The scene alters again, the sky has deepening reds, drawn by a thick pastel crayon. It doesn't look real but there it is in front of me or perhaps it should be behind me as I should be heading back to pub to meet the taxi. But it's so alluring! I pack up and try not to look back but I just have to and wish I could stay longer. Those who've driven here are planning to get some shots from the other side of the Tower capturing the last vestiges of the sunset through the ruined windows. Bit I just can't!
We make the station in great time and peel off our waterproof trousers and new waterproof skirt respectively. The long journey home means in my case the opportunity to upload a serious number of photos to peruse. It's been an amazing evening, I feel positively drunk on sunsets. I could never have imagined quite so diverse photography ftom my last visit. What a difference six months and a stunner of a sunset makes.