The Tank Trap


It’s a funny old game, landscape photography. You’re so reliant on the weather but you never know quite what it’s going to do. This can lead either to genuine excitement, or frustrated disappointment.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve sat for literally hours with a cracking shot lined up, waiting for what seemed like an inevitably fantastic sunset, only for it to cloud over and kill the shot literally at the last minute.

More rare is the opposite, when you head out in overcast conditions just in case and the clouds break in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. This is uncommon and exceptional.

Over on Studland, very near to the chain ferry, lies a tank trap, a series of concrete blocks erected during the Second World War to prevent enemy tanks from advancing inland and invading. Aside from being a pretty nifty land defence in the case of an enemy attack, they’re also a photographer’s dream. Anything that progresses into the sea creates real visual interest and the opportunity to examine and capture the relationship and interplay between the solid and fluid.

The tank trap has all the ingredients for a cracking shot, but for some reason, after several visits, I’d struggled to come away with anything I was happy with. So I wasn’t overly hopeful when I headed out on a Sunday evening to an overcast, dull sky.

I love Sunday evening shots – it’s a time of the week when most people are heading home and thinking about the pending week at work, so to be out trekking in what feels like the middle of nowhere with all the time in the world always makes me feel excited and privileged.

Having set up just in case, there’s no better feeling for a landscape photographer than to see the light break and flood your viewfinder with colour, and this is exactly what happened exactly as the sun began to disappear into the horizon. What had been dull, flat greys exploded into soft pinks, yellows and oranges, with the sun igniting both the water below, and the sky above.

I finished the evening with a long walk along the shore line as the tide rolled in and the light rolled out. That time of night is amazing to be walking by the coast, whether you’re taking photos or not.

I think the best feeling in the world for any photographer is walking away knowing you’ve got a shot you’re happy with.

Part of the Sandbanks, Studland, Purbecks and Poole collection.

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