A cloudy night in Hurst

Hurst Sea Defence

A slightly disappointing sunset yesterday, although after a completely white sky for much of the day, I was lucky to at least to get some definition in the clouds. This allowed for a spot of improvisation and a last-minute switch of tactics to a black and white long exposure.

Hurst Castle is out at the end of a mile-long shingle spit in Hampshire, close to Southampton. It has a pretty awesome-looking and intriguing sea defence system of groynes and rocks, and if you’re at all familiar with my photography, you’ll know that this is one of my favourite sorts of thing to photograph.

Despite its awesomeness in person, I think it’s actually pretty difficult to photograph; the criss-cross of wood is hard to make photographic order out of, and it’s almost impossible to find an angle which doesn’t lead the eye right out of the frame. The temptation is to try and capture a whopping great chunk of it, but less is more, and experience has taught me that in this sort of situation, despite how cool the entire structure is, you’re much better capturing a smaller, simpler element and being extremely clear about what you’re shooting.

Slightly rushed due to fading light, I was nevertheless determined to take my time and think about what I was doing; it’s too easy in this sort of situation to get so blindsided by a goodish idea that you end up ultimately disappointed.

Eventually, I chose to shoot a small section of the groyne which featured a broken and missing section of fencing, a large rock and some hefty but frayed rope against the backdrop of the English Channel and The Isle of Wight. For me, this is some pretty evocative imagery; how long has this groyne stood here being battered night after night by the sea? How many sea wrecks has it been witness to? Where did that sea rope come from, could it have been a centuries-old galleon? No, I don’t think so, but there’s a definitely a massive element of nostalgic wonder with this sort of imagery, and hey, a bit of imagination is good for the soul, which is probably why I’ll never stop shooting this type of subject.

So this is my attempt from last night, followed by a failed attempt to cook myself some meatballs and pasta on the pebble beach as I ran out of fuel, but I did at least capture an extremely uncharacteristic photo! Sometimes I’m so over-focussed on landscape photography that I forget I can use my camera for other things. A few more lessons for the experience bank last night.