Turning Night into Day

On January’s full moon, Mike Bentley and I went down to Clovelly and onto Black Church Rock at Mill Mouth. The night was unbelievably clear with a huge, bright, full moon. We’d brought torches with us but hardly needed to use them. Walking down the track at 9pm was an eerie experience as, without warning, roosting pheasants would fly, startled, out of trees and old misshaped oaks would spread contorted shadows over the path ahead. At one stage we had to traverse a fallen tree, it’s trunks width being equal to our height.

The forest had managed to keep the frost at bay but as we got onto the beach the pebbles were suddenly very slippy. Moving down the beach, ice soon turned to water and still further to dry stone thanks to the breeze. Travelling over a rocky shore is always dangerous and I wouldn’t recommend trying it at night to anyone, the harsh moon light confuses any spacial awareness, the shadows blacker than black.

Black Church Rock was magnificent in this dream world, our photographs describe the colour far better than the rods in our eyes. The landscape format picture above is of me taking the portrait format, by Mike Bentley. I believed I could see well in this light but to give you an idea of the amount of light the photograph above was 400iso, f2.8 and 1 minute exposure; the limits of my camera without my (broken) cable release. It’s noticeable from the image that the horizon isn’t straight – seeing to compose is so difficult and focusing complete guesswork. Even focusing with torchlight or with the camera flash is impossible with this dark rock.The colour in these pictures is amazing though. The reflected daylight and harsh shadow is evocative of a hot, bright, summers day. However the addition of a coloured light in the above photograph and the stars in the sky do much to question this assumption.