On the Edge of Exmoor – workshop May 2023
Dramatic cliffs, far reaching views and some stunning scenery can all be expected from the beautiful North Somerset and Devon Coasts, but blue sky days are slightly less common. Having lived in the West Country for 14 years I can vouch for the fact that it rains quite a lot! However this years workshop was characterised by blue sky days and cloudless sunsets (mostly) – difficult conditions for photography but I think we all rose to the challenge.
Meeting new people is one of the best parts of running workshops and this year we had a lovely group of 4 who came from Essex, Suffolk and Switzerland to explore the wonders of the West Country.
The workshop this year was based in Lynmouth in the Rising Sun Hotel which gave us a comfortable base from which to explore and an excellent breakfast every morning.
The workshop began at Porlock exploring the marsh with its characterful dead trees. We went on to explore Watersmeet which is one of my favourite locations to photograph. Here the sunshine and blue skies were not quite so problematic as the river stays quite shady for most of the morning. Just spending time next to the river under a canopy of green as the water rushes past is enjoyable and good for your soul but it was nice that everyone came away with some shots they were happy with. We rounded our time off here with tea and cake in the old Hunting lodge which is now owned by the National Trust – perfect after a good morning of photography.
From Watersmeet we drove along the coast and spent some time at Combesgate beach before heading over to Croyde beach for sunset – via the Rock Inn at Georgeham for some well earned dinner.
Croyde is a lovely sandy bay popular with surfers, but at either end it has some fantastic rock formations which we used for our sunset photography. As good as the rocks were I found more interest in the light on the wet sand left behind by the falling tide. There were fantastic areas where rivulets off water cascaded down the beach creating snake like patterns which reflected the light. So although we had no clouds for a colourful sunset we did have a beach full of the most amazing light.
For our third day we headed over to North Somerset and Kilve beach and the Quantocks where a wild garlic wood by a stream was our afternoon shoot. After a lovely meal in the Plough Inn, Holford we headed to Kilve beach for sunset. Finally the weather gods we smiling on us and we had some moody cloud cover for our evening shoot with a hint of golden light beneath.
The beach at Kilve is Jurassic in age and is made up of bands of Limestone and shales. It is a popular place for fossil hunters and is great for photography on a falling tide. Having said that it is a complicated place so you need the water to simplify things. Watching the tide ebb is fascinating as the bands of limestone and blue Lias stone are revealed. These contain some great textures and some really interesting compositions are possible.
The workshop finished off on Thursday morning with a trip to the Valley of the Rocks which affords some of the best views along this stretch of the Exmoor coastline. It is also home to numerous feral goats who wander the valley floor and make easy work negotiating the steep sided cliff faces. There were plenty of cute babies this year too so the long lenses had to come out just for a moment!
It is always sad to say goodbye to workshop clients especially such a lovely group and we rounded the session off with tea and cake in the sunshine from our camper van. Blue sky days are definitely not all bad!
I will be running another Exmoor workshop next May – provisional dates are 13th – 16th May 2024. More details will be coming soon but please do get in touch if you are interested in joining us.
Below are a few images taken on and before this years workshop.