The Twilight Boathouse


If you head over to Studland on the chain ferry, you’ll find that most of the foot passengers turn left and head straight onto the huge expand of golden sand. It’s beautiful over there.

However, if you turn right, you’re faced with a unique stretch of beach which is less suited to laying down your towel, but an excellent location to find some real solitude in the heart of nature for some serious rambling or photography.

As well as a WWII tank trap, the place is home to a row of houseboats lined up on the shore, and as the last of the tourists made their way home on this Bank Holiday Sunday, I had the privilege of making this spot my own home for the evening.

I know I talk a lot about races against time and having to leg it before the light goes or the moon moves or suchlike, but along with these times of blind panic are moments of beautiful solitude and stillness, and it’s these moments which keep me hooked on landscape photography.

I think that modern life has become so fast and pressured that we find little time to stop and just be, to just experience the experience of what’s going on around us – to be fully present to it, a part of it observing itself – and I think that this is damaging for us, mentally, physically and spiritually.

I’m at my absolute happiest away from the noise and the rush, and so I found myself this night with the opportunity to sit watching the sun set into the sea and the tide roll in without another human being in sight.

This is a two-minute exposure, long enough to get the glass-like effect in the sea which contributes so heavily to the sense of tranquillity, whilst capturing a soft, gentle quality in the clouds. The boathouse itself was silhouetted in my first attempt, which was easy to rectify using a technique known as “painting by light.” Sounds arty, but in reality it just means sticking a head torch on and moving one’s head this way and that to illuminate the foreground object. Not only did it work a treat but I’m sure I looked awesome.

What’s most special to me about this shot is that it was my first real photographic adventure following my travels in Australia, and it reassured me that, far from being over, the adventure was only just beginning.

It wasn’t till the morning that I realised I’d actually fractured my foot on the trek back in the darkness, and it still gives me grief from time to time, but it was well worth it!


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

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