From where they were on the beach, they’d be able to get some great shots and it would be a brilliant place from which to do their star shots. However, remembering the steepness and difficulty of the steps down to the beach, neither of them fancied making the return journey to the car in pitch-black darkness – with or without torches. They decided to take some photos while they could, and agreed to return to the clifftop where they could head back towards Man O’War Beach in time for sunset.
Carrie’s hopes were fulfilled. There were just enough clouds that were underlit in gold but turning to shades of purple, as the Sun sank below the horizon, to create a beautiful sunset scene.
By the time they got back to the car to collect their things for the night, the sky was turning a beautiful shade of blue and the clouds were disappearing. They went, westwards again, to where they’d stood before, assessing the view towards Durdle Door’s arch. They knew by then that they’d still be able to get some great photos and it would also be much less dangerous returning to the car park.
Carrie had been correct, there were quite a few other photographers there, but almost all of them were spread along the beach below. Only a few had, like themselves, opted for safety. They used the time and opportunity to take, what Carrie described as Blue Hour shots. She explained to Charlotte how, from now on, they would definitely need to use their tripods. Because there was less light, they’d need to use slower shutter speeds and, on its own, that would require changes to other settings to get a bright enough and sharp enough photo.
Carrie explained how the earth’s rotation meant that all the stars would appear to be moving across the sky as they took their photos. This movement meant that they’d only be able to keep their shutters open for a few seconds. Otherwise the stars would appear as short streaks rather than as clear, round points of light.
There was a breeze getting up, and it was beginning to get chilly, so they donned their warm clothing and hats and put gloves on while they waited. Every now and then, another photographer or photographers would come over to them to talk about things like camera types and settings – or about using torches to illuminate the arch below. Charlotte was fascinated. Photography clearly was a devoted – perhaps even obsessive – sub-culture.
The spectacle of the stars as they appeared, first singly then as constellations, lastly as a gorgeous canopy, amazed Charlotte. She had never seen so many stars in her life. Nevertheless, when they started taking photographs of the Milky Way, she was disappointed because it didn’t seem as bright to her as she’d hoped or expected. Carrie explained that their cameras, using the settings she’d explained earlier, would collect a lot more light than her eyes could see. By this time, the warmth of the day had departed and, despite the additional layers of clothing that she’d brought and put on, Charlotte was shivering. Her camera and tripod were now almost icy cold and her cold fingers found it increasingly difficult to operate the settings.
They compared their images on their preview screens and Carrie said that she’d show Charlotte, the following day. how to process them to show off their full glory.
By eleven they were making their way back to the car, having checked that they’d not left anything behind. As Carrie had warned, in the moonless darkness, without their headtorches they’d have had great difficulty finding their way back to the car. Having each other to talk to eased the eeriness of their walk back.
The drive back to Lyme was uneventful. Even with the car’s temperature control set high, it took some time for them to stop shivering. Charlotte offered to take over the driving if Carrie were tired but she seemed wide awake – their minds were still buzzing with memories of what they’d seen.
She used the key she’d been given to unlock the hotel door. There was still someone manning the reception desk and she returned the key to him. He asked her about her day and she showed him some of the images on her phone.
In her room she looked at the text messages she’d received but decided not to reply until the morning.
I took this photo a a little more than a week ago (21/02/2021) while I was out for a walk. I’d gone to take my daily exercise a couple of miles further from home than usual. I began near the Ship Inn at Blackbrook, St Helens, Merseyside. I parked near the Ranger’s Hut and walked, initially along the Canal and then beside the stream along the woodland path to its junction with Garswood Old Road at Happy Valley, Carr Mill. I’d taken my camera and took lots of photos to show you over the next several episodes of this story. Most of them will show the path and the water beside it.
This next photograph is of the railway viaduct at Happy Valley at Carr Mill. The viaduct carries trains from Liverpool to Wigan and to stations beyond.
I used my Pentax KP 24 MP cropped sensor camera with a 35 mm f/2 full-frame prime lens attached. The shutter speed was 1/250s at f/5 and the ISO was 200. The shot was handheld and I post-processed my shot in Lightroom Classic.