Most years we are lucky enough to have some really calm weather over the summer while allows the sediment to drop out of the water resulting in great visibility for snorkelling on the North Norfolk coast.
This week has been one of those times and I’ve tried to get out there at low tide as much as I can to take in the beauty of the ecosystem that is the unique North Norfolk Chalk Reef. As you can see from the short film and photos below it is a really magical place, teeming with marine life across the whole spectrum of colours.
The reef stretches approx 20 miles along the North Norfolk coast, dubbed ‘The Great Barrier Reef of Britain’, it is the longest chalk reef in the world and a designated Marine Conservation Zone.
People are always amazed to see the variety of life only a stone’s throw away from the sandy beach, the safe waters off our coast at this time of year mean that the reef is accessible to anyone with a mask & snorkel.
The still photos below were shot on the new Olympus TG-6 – an incredible compact underwater camera. Most of the wider video footage was filmed on a GoPro Hero 7 Black – the stabilisation on this little camera is just amazing although the picture quality underwater doesn’t compare to the TG-6.
Saturday morning saw me getting up at 6am to go out in a small boat. With 40mph NW winds and hail slamming against the windows I have to admit I did wonder what the heck I was heading out into!
The event I was photographing and filming was the Coastal Exploration Company’s 30 foot wooden whelker sailing up the River Glaven from Blakeney Pit to Cley Harbour (next to the wonderful Cley Mill). Salford was to be the largest commercial vessel to enter Cley Harbour in 60 years. The Cley Harbour Committee have been working hard since 2014 to clear the harbour after it had become silted up & overgrown to the point of being more of a stream over the last few decades.
A few hardy souls met in the watery dawn light to brave the elements and head out in Simon Read’s boat – Hesperus to meet Laura & Dom who had spent overnight on Salford anchored in Blakeney Pit ready for the final leg up the river into Cley Harbour. Luckily the rain held off for the journey and we met Dom & Laura and jumped on board. Below are few of my shots from the morning plus a short video I made from some footage I grabbed between stills. The light was pretty awful so apologies for the video but I think it captures the atmosphere and it was a pleasure to be able to record this historic event for Cley.
Below, the cherry on the top was seeing the Cley Harbour Committee receiving the NNDC Environment Award 2018, here they are with the Coastal Exploration Co. Team and their plaque…
Below is the short film I made of the event…
The story & photos have been really well received even making the front cover of today’s Eastern Daily Press and a full page on page 3. Plus a national news agency has been in touch this morning and will be pushing the story out to the national press so watch this space!
• Norfolk photographer • Photographers in Cley • North Norfolk Photography • Marine photographers Norfolk • Aquavisuals •
Yesterday I headed along the coast road to film an important day for local surfers to remember legendary East Anglian surfer, photographer & filmmaker Neil Watson and a number of other members of the local surf community who are sadly no longer with us.
Ideally we would have had some waves and I could have been posting a video chock full of surf action but unfortunately with virtually zero swell in the water we had to make do with paddling competitions but it was still a great day, a really chilled, friendly vibe and the chance for old friends to get together & have some fun.
I was honoured to be presented with a cheque for Sheringham Lifeboat from the proceeds of last year’s event by the organisers Darren Veal, Dan Watson (Neil’s son) and Paul Nicker. The lifeboat came along to demonstrate the speed & handling of the RNLI’s Atlantic 85 B-Class lifeboat, expertly helmed by Steve Banks. Thank you all once again for your support.
With the speeches completed it was time to get in the water so the contestants received their trusty steed for the afternoon from Darren’s incredible collection of vintage surfboards (thought to be the largest privately owned collection in the UK) and got paddling!
For information on future events please check their page on Facebook – ‘Neils Event’.
• surf films • norfolk filmmaker • norfolk surf films • surf photography •
I got back last night from a fantastic few days photographing the action at Lendy Cowes Week 2018.
The aim was to get a good range of sailing photos and yachting photography for some magazine features so I booked a few days out in my diary earlier this year and made the trip down south. I had found a fantastic AirBnB place literally a stones throw from the quayside and about as central to the action as I could possibly get.
I arrived on the Monday evening, Day 3 of Lendy Cowes Week and got straight to work catching some shots of some of the yachts crossing the finish line with their beautiful spinnakers bulging in the evening breeze, backlit by the setting sun…
While on the quayside I overheard someone saying that these boats had all their pennants up because the Princess Royal, Princess Anne, was in Cowes for the sailing. I then suddenly realised there were quite a few police around and some black cars parked behind me, seconds later I saw a small boat come into the marina and sure enough Princess Anne was on board. She disembarked the boat and walked straight up the jetty towards me…
Watching the finish line…
For the rest of the week I had managed to secure a place on the Lendy Media boat which was fantastic, although the weather on Cowes Week day 4 wasn’t ideal initially with torrential downpours…
…but it soon brightened up and the sailors all seemed to be enjoying themselves on what was Cowes Ladies Day…
Cowes Week, Day 5 brought some great weather, sunshine, 25 knot gusts of wind and some good clouds in the blue sky to add some interest to the images. By far the best day for photography of the time I was there…
Fever Tree were handing out goodie bags to the yachts as they came back into the marina after a day’s sailing. Sadly they didn’t give any to us on the media boat!
RNLI Cowes Lifeboat were busy on the Wednesday with three shouts, this one made me smile – the Pig has gone belly up so who do you call? Cowes Lifeboat obviously!
Not a happy sight…
Cowes lifeboat off on their next shout…
So to my final day at Cowes Week, sadly another overcast day so I concentrated mostly on getting close ups of the action, trying to eliminate as much of the drab sky from the shots although I couldn’t resist still getting plenty of wider shots showing these beautiful boats in action…
Oops, slight touch there as some of the yachts struggled against a strong tide & little wind to get round one of the course markers…
Hauling in the spinnaker!
Joy at finally getting round the bouy after a tense few minutes of drifting the wrong way with the strong ebbing tide…
So there’s my favourite shots of this years Lendy Cowes Week, I’m already looking forward to heading back for next year plus a few other major yachting events in the diary.
I am open to commissions to any yachting events so please drop me a line or see my Aquavisuals site, aimed specifically at maritime & boating photography here.
For the full gallery of my 2018 Cowes week photos click here.
• yachting photography • yacht photographer • sailing photographer • sailing photos • marine photographer •
Last week with the fine weather and calm seas I decided to make a short film showing some of the beauty that lies beneath the waves just off our beach here at Sheringham.
In 2016 the unique chalk reef ecosystem stretching from Weybourne to Happisburgh was designated to be an official Marine Conservation Zone. The MCZ covers an area of 321 square kilometres and is home to a vast and rich diversity of sealife. The MCZ is apparently home to over 30 species of Sea Slug, I haven’t spotted any yet but I’ll keep looking!
The problem is that for much of the year the sea is stirred up so much that the water resembles a muddy gravy which is no good for snorkelling or scuba diving. Most years we have a few weeks in the summer when the sea is calm enough for the sediment to drop out and the water clears up providing some great visibility for underwater exploring. Last week was one of them and with the beautiful sunshine beaming down on us I couldn’t resist a venture into the water, I wasn’t disappointed. I don’t recall the water ever being quite this clear, the visibility was great!
Below is a short film I made using the drone for some aerial footage and a GoPro Hero6 for some 4K underwater shots. I think the results have surpised a lot of people as to just how clear the water can get and also how beautiful this environment is, just under our noses but often totally unexplored by the vast majority. At the time of writing the FB video has had over 30,000 views & 500+ shares on my Facebook page, plus an edited version appearing on the BBC East of England social media pages (another 33,000+ views) and stills/clips of it being used by the EDP & BBC in other areas. I’m due to be interviewed for a piece about the chalk reef for BBC Look East next week too. Jacques Cousteau was always my hero as a kid so this is my chance to emulate him!
Below are some still shots I took while down there, not as sharp as I’d like but not bad for a little GoPro I guess!
Norfolk legend and Wells-Next-The-Sea RNLI Coxswain Allen Frary retired from service last week after 42 years of serving the RNLI. As his flank station to the East we took Sheringham Lifeboat along and Cromer’s All-weather Tamar Lifeboat came too.
It was great to see the Wells, Cromer & Sheringham lifeboats all alongside. Also a really useful exercise for those of us on the Sheringham ILB to be shown the bouyage & channels into Wells harbour as it’s further west than we tend to venture with our Atlantic 85 so many of us hadn’t taken the boat into the outer harbour before.
Here’s a few shots from a great morning out on the water…
Last week I headed off to Barton Broad to spend a morning with a dedicated team of rowers on one of their winter training sessions. The group is called Coastal Rowing Association Blakeney (CRAB) and comprises an enthusiastic (and fit!) group of mostly retired folk who just love to get out on the water and row. I believe the club has around 30 members in total and they take it in turns to take their two handmade St Ayles skiffs out on the water throughout the year.
In the winter they use the more sheltered waters of the Norfolk Broads, launching at Barton Turf but their true home (and spring/summer/autumn rowing ground) is North Norfolk and the stunning area known as Blakeney Pit, a sheltered area of water protected by the National Trust owned Blakeney Point. I plan to head to Blakeney with them in the spring & summer to capture more photos and footage of them doing their thing but couldn’t resist an invitation to come along with them on one of their winter training days.
We arrived on a cracking January morning with light winds and plenty of sunshine. As the skiff was prepared I donned my lifejacket and was given a comfy spot in the bow and we were off. It takes some skill to manoeuvre a boat out of a tight staithe with only paddlepower and these are some long & quite delicate looking oars. Before long we were out in the open water and the rowers had found their pace, with the hypnotic rhythm of the oars dipping in & out of the water. After about half an hour they offered me a go at the rowing so we switched places and I was shown the basics – keep in time with the stroke oar, don’t dip the oar too deep or come out too high, how to use arms, legs & back for maximum power. Doesn’t sound much but it’s quite a lot to get right and I think I’d need a while to get the hang of it! I rowed for about 15 minutes and I have to say it was quite hard work, must be amazing for core fitness.
After about 45 minutes of rowing through these peaceful waters we were at How Hill with a couple of lovely old windmills nestling amongst the reeds to complete the scene. I hopped off and got some shots of them rowing up & down this section. I also put the drone up for some aerial shots. While above the rowers I panned down & captured some video to allow them to see their timing & technique from above. Looks pretty good to me! The short video of this is a bit further down in this post.
Here’s the short film I made from the air…
A huge thank you to the lovely ladies and gentlemen of the CRAB rowing club, I had a really great time out on the water and look forward to seeing them again later this year out at Blakeney Point for some shots of them in their summer habitat!
• Norfolk broads photography • Rowing photography • Marine photographers • Norfolk Broads Boating Photography •
So far 2018 is shaping up to be a good year with lots of projects and plans in the pipeline. Cowes Week is booked in my diary and plans are afoot for media passes and access to a photographer’s rib for what should be some great photographic opportunities so cover the various sailing races and events.
This week I am meeting North Norfolk boat builder Neil Thompson to discuss a photo study of their boat-building process. Neil’s business is nationally famous for their Norfolk Oyster yachts and have introduced some new models in recent years including the Urchin, Gypsy, Smuggler and Explorer. I’ve also been in contact with the production company that makes the BBC programme ‘Saving Lives at Sea‘ regarding providing aerial footage for the 2018 series which follows the exploits of various RNLI crews around the country.
On Thursday next week I am heading out to the Norfolk Broads with the Coastal Rowing Association Blakeney, a rowing club based in Blakeney who make their own boats and can often been seen rowing around Blakeney Pit. In the winter they keep up fitness and training on the Norfolk Broads and I’m looking forward to spending a morning with them to photograph and film them on the water.
I have plenty of other events planned for the year and various marine-based shoots which figured would benefit from a longer reach on the camera so I recently decided to take the leap and get a superzoom. The Canon 100-400mm F4.5-5.6L IS MKII is a stunning lens for the money. Super sharp right to the edges, fast to focus and not ridiculously heavy or large and with breathtaking image stabilisation. Combined with the Canon 1.4x extender MKIII on the Canon 5D MKIII’s I have nearly 600mm of zoom available and it can still autofocus which is going to be perfect for close-up shots of the sailing action this year.
Yesterday I took the lens out for a trial on the cliffs here at Sheringham and was really impressed with the results. The first shot below was of the Canon 24-70mm F2.8L lens at 70mm, pretty much what the eye sees, you can just make out the little white dot of a small trawler in the middle of the frame. With the 100-400mm plus 1.4x extender and a bit of fairly heavy cropping in post process you can actually read the boat’s number (in the second shot) and the image is still relatively sharp considering how much it’s been cropped. Really impressed with this set up and looking forward to trying it out at the various regattas and sailing events I will be attending this year.
• Sailing photographers UK • Sailing photographers in Norfolk • Norfolk boat photography • Marine photographers UK •
A few weeks ago I completed a short film made here on the North Norfolk coast at Sheringham & Cromer. The film shows how quickly the weather can change from calm beauty to rugged rough seas. I was also pleased to be able to slot in an excerpt from the Shipping Forecast for the segway between calm and storm. The Shipping Forecast has to be my favourite thing on the radio. I have a number of books about the shipping forecast and listen to it whenever I can, I just can’t put my finger on what makes it so special but it is a unique slice of Britishness which captures the imagination of our island nation.
Last week we took a trip down to the 2018 British Marine London Boat Show at the ExCel Centre. It was a fantastic day meeting like-minded boat lovers, drooling over yachts and superyachts we’ll never be able to afford and buying lots of books, gadgets & trinkets we don’t need but definitely want!
In order to travel light I didn’t take my dslr cameras and instead took the little Panasonic Lumix GH4. Considering the size and price it’s not a bad little camera but not quite up to the quality of sensor & glass as my usual cameras so please excuse the image quality of the below shots.
I was really impressed by these incredible all-wooden surfboards made by Lignum Surfboards. They truly are a thing of beauty and as pleasing to touch as they are to look at. I’m sure they are pretty amazing to ride too. They also had a prototype wooden stand up paddleboard commissioned by the TV presenter Ben Fogle, ecologically sound and beautiful, what more could you want?
While at the boat show I met up with Tom Foy of British Marine to have a chat about the benefits of membership, as a result of that chat I have submitted my application for membership and look forward to being able to announce some good news on that front in the next few weeks.
Some other highlights of the show for me were chatting with Simon Temlett, publisher of some of the most respected boating magazines including Classic Boat and Yachts & Yachting. I hope to be photographing some sailing action for various magazines later this year so watch this space.
We stuck around for the Yachts & Yachting magazine awards, (might have had something to do with the free champagne 😉 ), and saw some big names in the sailing world accepting these coveted awards. Below is the silhouette of legendary Vendée Globe sailor Alex Thomson receiving his award for Pro Sailor of the year. Congratulations to all of the winners, worthy recognition indeed.
Many thanks to British Marine for laying on such a magnificent show, roll on September and the Southampton Boat Show (also organised by British Marine), looking forward to it already!
• London boat show photography • Yachting photographers • UK boat photographers • Marine photography UK •