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June 2011    Photographers Resource - Monthly    Edition 90

Coastal Walks and Coastal Photography

Worms Head Island off the Gower Peninsula in South Wales.

It is accessible at low tides, but watch the tides as they come in quite quickly here.

Image taken with Nikon D70, with 18-70mm lens at 34mm, ISO 400, 1/160th, F25
In This Issue:-
  • Editorial

  • Feature - Coastal Walks

  • Photographic Feature - Coastal Photography

  • Photographers Diary

  • June Wildlife Diary

June for me is the start of summer, when the days get longer, warmer and have more going on. This is not only the case in the human world, but also in the animal world as well. As you can see from this months Wildlife Diary towards the bottom of this page, many birds and animals are busy, not only feeding themselves but also this years new offspring. In the human world there is also a lot more going on, as we come out of winter hibernation to take full advantage of the longer, and hopefully sunnier days, at the time of writing this it is raining outside, but by mid July when the schools have broken up for their summer breaks, the sun hopefully will be in full bloom and giving us longer days and lots of heat to keep us warm as we visit our countryside and our coasts.

This leads nicely into this months feature of Coastal Walks. We are lucky in Britain in that we are an island, in fact we are a collection of a 1,000+ islands, large and small. Of these islands many are uninhabited, some are nature reserves and only 129, including what we call the mainland, have people living on them. So we have a lot of coast, how much is debateable as different sources have differing figures. On a TV programme I watched recently it said we had around 6,000 miles of coastline, however on Wikipedia and other websites they quote the figures put together by Ordnance Survey, which says we have 11,073 miles and in 2008 the CIA World Factbook quoted the UK as having 7,723 miles of coastline. Another web source quoted 'around 6,000 miles of which 5,000 miles is around the mainland'. Which is correct is difficult to say, and as there is such a large variation my question is, how are they measuring it, they are obviously using different methods. One thing I haven't been able to find is anybody who has walked and measured the whole coastline and therefore there appears to be no definitive answer. How much we have is not important but as no one in the UK lives more than 70 miles from the coast it should be something we can all get to and enjoy, soak up the sun and photograph is many varied landscapes and structures. Our main feature articles this month takes a look at coastal walks, and the sorts of things you might see as you hike along some of them, and we also take a look at coastal photography, giving you ideas of what you can photograph, how to use filters and other devices to enhance your photos, photographing sea water, and how to protect your gear.

Whether you visit the coast or not this summer there are many things that you could see and do throughout the UK and our diary highlights below points out some of the events you should look out for.

We have also updated the Online Dealers page within the Reference Section removing some of those dealers that have ceased trading since 2009, a scene of our current economic climes. Although things might be tight don't forget you can use our Controlling Costs section to find different ways you can save money while out and about during the summer months.


Coastal Walks

With the walking season upon us and there being many Walking Festivals around the UK over the coming months (see the diary for those we have identified this month), we thought we would take a look at Coastal Walks and what you can photograph while you are out walking them.

The UK is a collection of Islands and some estimates say that there are 1,000+, so we have a lot of coastline. Much of our coastline is beautiful, rugged, full of wildlife and nature and there are many other items and structures such as Lighthouses, Castles, rock formations, wrecks, harbours, piers, bridges, coastal resorts etc that we can photograph when visiting them, whether by car or on foot.

Thirty three percent of our coastline has

Walking on Skomer Island

been protected and 32 designated areas have been classed as Heritage Coasts. This protection means they are managed for their natural beauty and where appropriate to allow access to visitors. However they are not protected by any specific law, although as many are in either one of our National Parks or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty an agreement between these and the relevant authorities exists to offer this protection. Around 700 miles of the coastline is owned and cared for by the National Trust and we have produced a list of National Trust Coastal Walks that covers some of this.

A very large percentage of the coastline around the UK has dedicated coastal paths along it, some small short walks, like the Bournemouth Coast Path, a 37 mile walk travelling from Swanage in Dorset to Lymington in Hampshire, or are a lot longer like the South West Coastal Path at 630 miles, from Minehead in Somerset, around the tip of Cornwall, taking in both the north and south coasts of Devon, before ending up at Poole Harbour in Dorset. There are also circular island walks, such as the Anglesey Coastal Path   and the Isle of Wight Coastal Path.   In our List of Long Distance Coastal Paths we cover 32 of these larger walks including those already mentioned here. In the UK we also have 15 National Trails and 3 of these are Long Distance Coastal Paths.

Many of these walks are scenic and contain a wealth of heritage through rock formations, buildings such as lighthouses and other structures. Two such paths along the southern coast are the Dorset Coast Path, which covers the  Jurassic coastline, where you have the rock formations of Old Harry Rock Stacks and Durdle Door near Lulworth, and further along the coast at Lymington you have the start of the Solent Way   which takes in such sights as Hurst Castle, one of Henry VIII's artillery forts and Portsmouth Historic Dock home of the wreck of the Mary Rose (King Henry VIII's ship), and HMS Victory Lord Nelsons battleship. Portsmouth is one place where you get the heritage of our past sitting alongside the new structures of today, with it being home to a modern day Royal Navy base and also home to a modern structure, the Spinnaker. There are also many castles and forts along our coastline, such as Criccieth Castle in Caernarfonshire and Dunstanburgh Castle on a headland in Northumberland.

Criccieth Castle Caernarfonshire 

Of course any coastal walk is going to involve a beach, whether it be sand, shingle or rock all types can be found around our coastline. Sandy beaches can be golden yellow or like at the Silver Sands of Morar in Scotland, where you have white sandy beaches leading into a clear turquoise sea water and looking out towards the Small Isles of Eigg and Rum. These different beach structures provide different habitats for all sorts of wildlife, whether it be wading birds needing to feed at the tide line, or gulls feeding off our fish and chip remains on the promenades, going down to the waters edge may also bring up other wildlife opportunities such as microscopic creatures in rock pools, or washed up jelly fish on the tide line amongst many others.

Jellyfish washed up on the beach at the water line

Much of our coastline is also made up of estuaries, where the sea comes to meet the rivers which travel across the country. Our estuaries are full of wildlife during the summer and winter months with large numbers of wading birds using them as feeding grounds. If you have a chance to be within the Moray Firth in Scotland then you may also catch a glimpse of Bottlenose Dolphins riding the waves alongside the boats as they come into the harbour. But some estuaries are not only teeming with wildlife, others like that on the River Severn at Purton in Gloucestershire, are scattered with many shipwrecks, some visible at low tide but some are on the shoreline and visible at all times, or on special days of the year have the Severn Bore Phenomenon and on these days you will find surfers and boats riding the wave as it travels up the river to Gloucester.

A coastal walk is never boring, as you can see from this and the many articles you have read, there is a wealth of features, habitats, nature, wildlife, viewpoints   and structures to admire, learn about and photograph and you will need some of the tips in our next section to help you make the most of your coastal photography.

Our first article in this series, Coastal Paths and Heritage Coasts, links all the articles, lists and route guides that we have, and you can also get to them by taking a look at our Walks Section, to help you make the most of your coastal walk experience.

Photographic Feature

Coastal Photography

The photographic opportunities around the UK Coastline is vast, and when taking a walk along the many coastal paths we have within the UK you will be spoilt for choice. What you can photograph/see on coastal paths gives a highlight of the sorts of things you might see and these include coastal features such as cliffs, rock pools, sand dunes, islands and peninsulas. It also includes structures such as piers, tidal mills, wind farms, ruins, lighthouses and more. On the wildlife and nature front it includes micro organisms and small wildlife found in rock pools, to wildlife and nature reserves full of plants and small creatures from the insect world such as butterflies, dragonflies and more, but also larger sea birds such as Puffins and mammals like Seals and Dolphins. As well as the wildlife out at sea there is also potentially a lot of human activity taking place from ships, ferries and working boats anchored up, in ports and yachts and small pleasure craft in harbours and marinas. Some areas such as Lynton and Lynmouth in Devon, and Hastings in West Sussex have cliff railways which get you from the cliff tops down into the town or onto the beach. On the beach and piers there will be fairgrounds, donkey rides and just offshore in the bays you will see people taking part in activities such as wind surfing, or on their jet skis, so much activity you won't know where to look first.

Jet Sking

With so much to explore and potentially photograph there will be a number of techniques you will need to get the best of your photography when out at the coast.

So what can you do, well you could take pictorial landscapes using rock formations like those at Durdle Door in Dorset as a back drop, or take advantage of viewpoints to get a shot out to sea, which may include a bridge or outlying island. If you can be there late in the evening, as the sun is setting, then you could have a go at photographing sunsets. It's not easy getting it right and you have to watch out for lost highlights in the bright sun, so getting the exposure right will be key. There are tools available to help such as a sun compass, or Filters. A useful guide for taking photos in bright sunshine is covered in the sunny 16 rule and the exposure required  article.

Time planning for coastal photography is critical and you will need to work out when is the best time to visit for the photograph you want. If you are wanting to use structures such as bridges, Lighthouses, boats out at sea or in harbour, then you will need to know where the sun is at the time you are wanting to visit, so that it is in the right position. Whether you want it behind you or in a position to create shadows, or for a sunset, using sunset, sunrise and moon links will get you to some useful websites and resources of information to help you work this out. If you're not able to be there at the right point for a sunset, then you could use sunset filters, to give you a sunset effect without needing to be there at the right time. If you take a look at all this prior to your visit and plan your day, this will all help you achieve your desired planned shot.

Being June we are concentrating on what you can get at the coast on a summers day, and with photographing seawater there are a number of techniques you can use to get the movement of the waves as they come ashore, or other effects, such as making the water glisten, then using filters for coastal photography will add to or enhance these effects for you. freezing water in time explains how you need to set up your camera in order to be able to get that effect.

What equipment you need to take with you will depend on what you are planning to do. Coastal Lenses looks at which lenses to consider taking for different types of shot, for instance a wider than normal angle is useful when capturing large scenes like a bay or a cliff. A wide angle lens will also give you a very large depth of field, so if you had a 12mm lens and set it's aperture at f22, you could get a rockpool with some seaweed in the foreground close up and the distant view of an island behind all in focus, as in the image to the right.

For the smaller wildlife in the sand and rock pools then a macro lens would be handy, and taking a look at macro or micro photography techniques will also show you other methods to achieve the same, like using close-up lenses  and tubes & bellows on your existing lens. Of course taking all this kit on the beach or to the coast with you does have it's own problems, not only your ability to be able to carry it all, but also how to keep it all clean.

Changing lenses can allow dirt or sand to get into the camera and onto the sensor

Rock Pools to Islands are all found off the UK coast

and when you get back home you will be disappointed with black spots in your skies, and the large editing task you have to do. You may not be able to guarantee the weather will be right, but by it's very nature a coastal location is sandy and you can guarantee there will be plenty of it around. Whether you're on a cliff top made of chalk or in sand dunes or down on the beach any slight breeze will generate dust. When photographing rock pools, or things going on in the sea which creates splash, this is also not conducive to electronic equipment, but with care and attention there are some precautions you can take, so that your camera can come with you and not stay at home. Take a look at coastal water and sand proofing for some suggestions on how you might protect your photographic equipment while out enjoying our coastline.

The Photographers Diary

The July diary is now in the 'next month' slot with June moved to in the 'this month'. Both months have a lot of opportunities for everyone.  Some highlights that are of particular interest are:-

The long running Appleby Horse Fair in Cumbria from the 2nd to 8th. This is the biggest horse fair of the country. Horses are everywhere on the roads, tied up along the riverbank, trotting horses, people on horseback and not to mention all the tourists who come to watch. Two other horse events with a difference include the Hawick Common Riding on the Scottish borders on the 10th and 11th, where the appointed cornet for the
year, carries a flag, and leads a procession of around 200 horse and riders, who then ride the marches or boundaries of the common land. When they ride around the reservoir the married men take the high road and the unmarried men take the low road. Then back to the racecourse for the ceremonial positioning of the flag, when the Coronet is presented with a riding crop. Or if you want something a bit more unusual but now a regular event in Llanwrtyd Wells in mid Wales then you could visit the Man Versus Horse Marathon, on the 11th, where human runners and mounted horse contestants compete against each other over a 22 mile course taking them down tracks, footpaths, forestry roads and open moorland. At the end of the month, on the weekend of the 24th to 26th you have the Sandringham Horse Driving Trails in Norfolk, a free event where the speed and skill of horses and drivers are put to the test around the Sandringham course. The Driving Society also have their annual show at Windsor Park in Berkshire on the 19th.

Hawick Common Riding by Lesley Middlemass


 Cotswold Airshow 2010 by Andy Leonard

With the longer days and quieter weather conditions it is also now the start of the Balloon Festival season with some taking place this month in Evesham, Worcestershire, Peterborough in Cambridgeshire on the 12th and Southampton on the 18th. Staying in the air, there are also many Air Shows from now until the end of the summer, some are the traditional airfield events such as the Throckmorton Airshow near Pershore in Worcestershire on the 11th, where the emergency and armed services come together for a fun day. While in Gloucestershire you have the two day Cotswold Airshow taking place on Kemble Airfield on the 18th and 19th. While during July there are a number of air shows that take place at our coasts.

It is also now country/county show season with many going on around all over the UK, from one day events such as, the Derby County Show on the 26th to the multi days of the The Royal Bath & West Show in Somerset staring on the 1st, the South of England Show in West Sussex and the Royal Cornwall Show both on the weekend of the 9th and 10th, the East of England Show at Peterborough and the Three Counties Show in Malvern Worcestershire starting on the 17th, or the Royal Highland

Show in Scotland starting on the 23rd. Staying with the farming theme, the 12th is Open Farm Sunday where more than 400 farms across the UK open their gates to the public for one day only, visit their website to find one near you.

Now summer is here and the water around our coasts is getting warmer, and we are attracted to the water on a hot sunny day, there are many water events on offer including, a Gala Weekend at Stoke Bruene in Northamptonshire, where many visiting canal boats, including historic ones and various canal crafts will be on display on the canal. In Weston Super Mare, Somerset the 11th sees the start of their Sand Sculpture Festival, where there will be many displays on the beach throughout the season to 4th September, this years theme being the Jungle.


Sand Sculpture of Shakespeare 2010 by James F Clay

In Devon the 17th to 19th sees the Gold Coast OceanFest where surfing competitions, and other activities take place on the beach during the day and music by night. In London you have the London Hong Kong
Dragon Boat Festival on the 9th, where 40 teams take part in races in the Royal Albert Docks. On the 25th, off the coast of the Isle of Wight, you have the Round the Island Race, a 50 mile race around the island, the largest yacht race of it's kind in the world. While on the 29th it is the start of the Henley Royal Regatta Week at Henley on Thames in Oxfordshire.

For the more unusual event you could visit the World Worm Charming Championships in Willaston, nr Nantwich in Cheshire on the 25th, or if you live at the other end of the country on the same day you could visit the Olney Duck and Raft Race in Buckinghamshire.

The 19th is Father's Day and there are many suitable activities for Dad to visit including, a Classic Car and

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2010 by David Wall

Henley Regatta
by Dave Cross

Transport Show in Staffordshire, the National Transport of Wales Festival at Swansea, the Harley Davidson Rally in Bath Somerset, or Roaming Robots in Surrey. Staying with the man theme throughout the month there are many other transport related shows including Tank Fest at the Tank Museum in Dorset, where the military might is put on display on the 25th, or the 1000 Engine and Vintage Rally at Astle Park in Cheshire on the same day where amongst others steam engines will be on display. Or on the 30th if you have a thing for speed then the Goodwood Festival of Speed in West Sussex is taking place.

Check out all this and more in this months diary page there is something for all tastes and interests and definitely plenty to photograph.

Wildlife Photography In June

Everywhere within the UK is full of wildlife activity this month, now the summer is upon us from our coasts to mountains, birds are busy feeding their young, butterflies and insects are out searching for nectar and therefore doing their bit for the next generation in the plant world, by transporting pollen around the plants, and if you are out and about in heathland at night you may hear the cry of a Nightjar as it captures moths and other nocturnal insects.

In woodlands and in some country gardens look out for the Great Spotted Woodpecker as they feed their young. In our garden a few years back we had a large number of them visit our bird tables, and it was usually the male (with the characteristic red band on the back of it's neck) that would be feeding the young with their red caps. We spent many weeks photographing them as they visited, and as a result have a large collection of images showing different types of behaviour, see the Great Spotted Woodpecker gallery for some of these. In the same year we also had a family of Green Woodpeckers visit. They are ground feeders and are particularly partial to ants, which we had plenty of in our garden, with a number of ant hills. Again we took a large number of images and have a Green Woodpecker Galleryshowcasing some of the images we have. Green woodpeckers are more nervous and don't stay in any one place for too long, they are always looking around, watching the skies as they feed. From the picture below you can see they have a pointed beak and a very long tongue, which allow them to get to their prey.


Green Woodpeckers      Green Woodpecker Gallery

It is also the month when one elusive bird, which we usually all hear but rarely see, is out and about, and in fact last week when visiting Wiltshire I did hear it loud and clear. Yeah it was the Cuckoo, it's distinctive call recognisable but as yet I have never seen one. If you manage to get to photograph one in the UK countryside over the coming months, please do let us have a copy of your image for this site.



Another colourful character in the bird world is the Puffin, and from the middle of this month through to the middle of July it is a good time to visit some of the island hotspots around the UK coastline to see and photograph them. They will be flying in and landing with beaks full of sand eels, scurrying down into their burrows to feed their young. Some good places to see them include Skomer Island, in Pembrokeshire, where 6,000 pairs are usually present, the Farne Islands, off the north coast and Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel as well as a number of places off the Scottish coast, including Bass Rock. Our list of places in the UK where you can see puffins should help you to identify a site you can get to. If you get a chance to visit Skomer, then take a look down at the coastline and you may also see Grey Seals lying on the rocks or swimming in the sea just out to sea, or if you can stay overnight then you could see the Manx Shearwater as Skomer is probably the most important breeding site for them, with an estimated population of 165,000 pairs.

Keeping with the coastal theme, from June to August on many a cliff top walk, in the plant world you will see Sea Pinks and Sea Campions, as well as many others as they start to blossom in the summer sun. Gardens, woodlands, and parks all start to become colourful paradises with a mass of colours from all types of plants.

As you are travelling around the countryside you will also come across a large amount of colour including the Oxeye Daisy found on the road side, under scrubs, open canopy forests and waste places, or the vetches and daisies that grow in

pastures and meadows. Many fields will also be a sea of red as poppies show off their blooms to the insect world to attract the pollinators. In the hedgerows and brambles you will find the Dog Rose flowering, or the Honeysuckle twisting around other shrubs and trees.

On chalk downlands Wild Orchids will be on show while in boggy grasslands you may come across the violet flowers of the Butterworth. A walk along a canal or slow flowing river you will notice amongst the greenery the Yellow and White Waterlilly's or the Yellow Iris standing tall at up to  one metre and in clusters of 2-3 flowers each up to 10cm across.

All of these colourful blooms attract insects, butterflies, snails and long-tongued bee pollinators, all of which like the warmer weather. Damselflies and Dragonflies will be seen flying over Rivers, streams, ponds and canals. All these insects not only attract the birds but also our local bat populations and for the photographer opens up the opportunity for some serious macro photography.

There are many highlights and taking a look at Wildlife Photography in June will give you plenty of ideas of what to look out for, and what you can capture to add to your portfolio.

Wild Flowers including Sea Campion by Dave Rogers

Summary of Articles Included In This Issue

Coastal Paths and Heritage Coasts (Overview)

What you can photograph/see on Coastal Paths

Time planning for coastal photography

Coastal Lenses

Coastal Water and sand proofing

Filters for Coastal Photography

Photographing Seawater

Photographing Water

Pictorial Landscapes

Photographing Sunsets

Sunset Filters

Macro Photography

Macro or micro photography

Close-up Lenses 

Tubes & Bellows

Depth of Field DOF Explained


Wildlife Photography in June


How to photograph puffins

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Green Woodpeckers

Lists Included This Issue

Online Dealers

List of Long Distance Coastal Paths

List of National Trust Coastal Walks

List of Heritage Coasts (32)

List of National Trails (includes 3 LD Coastal Paths)

List of places in the UK where you can see Puffins

Locations Guides Included This Issue

Anglesey Coastal Path 

Bournemouth Coast Path - Swanage-Lymington

Dorset Coast Path – Lyme Regis-Sandbanks

Isle of Wight Coastal Path – circular covering the whole island

Solent Way – Lymington-Emsowrth (Hampshire/Sussex border)

South West Coastal Path – Minehead–Poole Harbour

Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire

Farne Islands, Northumberland

Criccieth Castle,  Caernarfonshire

Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland

Galleries Included This Issue

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Green Woodpecker Gallery


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