This content is 14 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

I recently spent a couple of weeks on holiday in Dorset with my family. Being August, the weather was best described as “variable” (May, June and September are the best months for good weather in England) but we had a few sunny days and, the on last couple of evenings, I managed to get out and take some pictures.

We were staying in Swanage, which is a pleasant seaside town (a bit run down but not too spoilt) but, because Swanage Bay faces east, it’s not the best place to take sunsets (and I’m not too great at getting out of bed for the dawn shift). I decided to try and catch the last of the golden hour, as the low sun reflected off buildings and boats but it wasn’t really working out – there wasn’t even any cloud interest (although the clear sky was great for our holiday, it’s not very interesting photographically!). I did, however, bump into a fellow photographer on the beach (Scott Howse), who provided me with some inspiration for a return visit the following evening.

Once the children were in bed, I sneaked out and dashed around trying to find a suitable location, snapping some quick shots as I pulled up on double yellow lines across the town but I was struggling to find the right location. As a last resort, I headed for a point half way around the bay, where I thought I might at least get some beach shots. As I pulled into a side road to park, an SUV approached from the opposite direction and headed for the same space. I could have nipped in front but I chose not to, shrugging my shoulders to indicate that the other driver could have the space, before driving on to find somewhere else to park.

As I walked back down the hill, I considered that perhaps giving up the space might result in some positive benefit to me – call it Karma if you like but I really didn’t expect to get large chunks of beach and a pier to myself for a whole 10 minutes or so! Admittedly, it was the evening on a bank holiday Monday, so lots of people would have been heading home, but I consider myself incredibly lucky to have captured the shots below with no-one else on the pier.

I settled down with my tripod and, taking Scott’s advice from the previous evening, I knocked down the ISO to my camera’s lowest calibrated setting, as well as making use of my Lee Filters ND grad to balance the bright sky with the foreground. A few minor tweaks in Lightroom (cropping, removing dust spots) and these are the resulting images.

Banjo Pier 2
Banjo Pier 3

Later this month I’m off to the Lake District for a long weekend dedicated to photography and, if I manage to capture images like these, I’ll be a very happy punter.

(The images in this post are ©2010 Mark Wilson, all rights reserved and are therefore excluded from the Creative Commons license used for the rest of this site.)

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