Jun 12, 2015 - by Robert Rhead
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The time in my diary had been penciled in for a while and was the first chance in some weeks where other commitments were not going to slow my photographic activities, all that remained to be decided was the location. I?d been watching the weather closely prior to making my final decision. The shortlist was another return to the Isle of Skye including Glencoe or a first time journey in the opposite direction down to the southern Jurassic Coast. Skye is renowned for it?s poor weather and the forecast promised nothing different with multiple days of constant rain. Memories of my previous very wet three week tour around Scotland came to mind, the damp still lurking in the corners of my camper van, and probably my camera bag. Dorset on the other hand was ready to be bathed in days of sun, which while not my perfect photography weather forecast sounded more enticing than a damp camper.

The Jurassic Coast in Dorset has for many years been a magnet for landscape photographers and geologists alike. With a good selection of coastal locations close to each other and a beautiful countryside as a bonus, Dorset is the perfect place to spend a couple of days touring and exploring what the area had to offer the landscape photographer.

My first port of call would be the infamous Durdle Door, renowned from many landscape photographs. The road trip proved to be eventless and painless, thanks to a good selection of photography podcasts and audiobooks loaded onto my iPhone. Arriving quite late in the day about two hours before sunset I made my way down from the car park to take my first view of the door. The light wasn?t great so I decided to make my way back down after dark to get some night shots, hoping for a chance to get a milky way shot. The car park at Durdle Door closes at 10pm and parking the camper at the camping ground would be expensive enough to make a northerners eyes water. So I parked at the top of the road and walked down at about 11pm. It always amuses me when you venture out to a location in the middle of the night, expecting to be alone, only to find a bunch of other photographers and even fishermen dotted around. Additionally the moon was up, large and bright, producing way too much ambient light to to see the milky way.

The tide was receding leaving the wet pebbles of the beach glinting in the moonlight, making them look like stars themselves, almost as if the sky and the ground had been reversed.

After a few shots and a chat with the fisherman ..who was also a photographer, I walked back to the camper to get some sleep before sunrise. Waking at first light I walked back down to the now deserted Durdle Door to get some shots in daylight. Again, not the perfect lighting conditions but an enjoyable moment regardless ?and that is really what it is all about.

Durdle Door Dorset
ISO100 - 19mm - f/13 - 1/20 sec - 0.6 soft ND grad

My plan was to work my way east along the Dorset coast, visiting popular landscape photography locations in geographical order, but I soon realised that Mupe Bay is only accessible by footpaths through Lulworth Gunnery Range which is strictly closed to the public on week days. I decided to skip that area and move on to Kimmeridge Bay, planning to circle back to Lulworth on Saturday.

Kimmeridge Bay
ISO200 - 16mm - f/18 - 25 sec - Lee Big Stopper
Kimmeridge Bay Dorset
ISO200 - 16mm - f/16 - 30 sec - Lee Big Stopper - 0.6 hard ND grad

Arriving at Kimmeridge Bay early morning with the sun shining bright and not a cloud in the sky. Not the best landscape photography weather by far, to top that the tide was in so I decided to catch up on the lost hours of sleep from earlier at Durdle Door. At around three in the afternoon I made my way down into the cove which by now had been laid bare with the receding tide. Large Jurassic limestone ledges stretch out into the sea at Kimmeridge which display an incredible surface texture with ridges and fissures running in all directions, perfect for compositions with rich foreground interest using the wide angle lens.

Kimmeridge Bay
ISO400 - 16mm - f/14 - 30 sec - Lee Big Stopper

Capturing coastal sunsets in Dorset can only really be done during the winter months when the sun sets over the sea. During my June trip the sun sets over land so I moved around to the other end of Kimmeridge Bay in the hope to get at least some golden hour colour in the sky. There were some clouds forming so the chances of reflected light from the set sun under the clouds was good. I captured some shots over the rocks just as the sun breached the horizon, then the colour went. Pics Kimmeridge sunset. Back at the car park I packed my stuff and headed away from the bay to find a place to park my camper for the night. Tomorrow would be a day discovering the hidden gem of Seacombe.

Read Part 2

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