I?m sometimes blinded into thinking that our beaches are relatively clean. The places I go are exposed to such a punishing surf that little detritus is left. Sometimes there?s a fishing float, tyre or rusting side of a ship lodged permanently into the back wall of a cave but the rocky shoreline can appear scoured clean with every tide. Westward Ho!, my local sandy beach also fools you into thinking that litter is a thing of the past. That is until you see it at the end of a summers day after the holidaymakers have gone. On-shore-drift makes a fine job of moving the crisp packets, beer cans, and discarded beach toys down to Saunton Sands and the fortnightly spring high tide makes a good job of finding the neatly hidden plastic bags and polystyrene cups pushed into holes on the pebble ridge or held under a stone. We?ve learnt to recycle so well now that we even crush up the water containers so they take up less space. I?ve even heard visitors ask why there are no bins on the beach having no comprehension that at high tide there is no beach; but this doesn?t stop piles of rubbish being neatly stacked together as if to say ?We believe this would make a good place for a bin!?

How difficult is it “take your rubbish home with you”? Another question would be “Is anyone ever prosecuted for dropping litter?? I?m sure we could find a few cases but how about ?Has anyone ever been prosecuted for letting a helium balloon fly off, or a lantern for that matter?? I will end up on a beach eventually.

At least this cream bottle served a purpose as a useful floating home. I threw it back into the sea so hopefully these goose barnacles survived!

Last of the Dark Nights

It was great to celebrate the end of the long dark nights of British Winter Time with a ?Playing with Light? workshop on Westward Ho! Beach. Apologies to anyone who, after seeing the centrefold in the North Devon Journal, had come down to Westward Ho! hoping to witness a light spectacular and missing us. I started the workshop in the warmth of the Waterfront pub, over a coffee, discussing the merits of various long exposure photographers and explaining various technical considerations for the camera. We didn?t get onto the beach until about 7.45pm where we made our way away from the lights of the village and far down the beach to the wetter sand near the sea. Even at this remote spot we attracted a couple of groups of teenagers who had been spending the evening playing around the pebble ridge. Both groups were keen to engage in our activities the first group of I think 6 had read the Journal?s feature and had come specially to get involved. The image above was made through a 50 second exposure each of the workshop participants and the teenagers had torches and Mike Bentley and I added some flash into the shot. Any of the people who participated in the making of this image can click on it to get a larger version for printing out.
A couple of weeks ago I ran a similar course at Spacex in Exeter. Here a lot of image making was achieved in one of their gallery spaces. It was designed for video art projection, blacked out with black curtained walls, so it was perfect for light graffiti. The image above was made by Claire Gladstone and describes the process through the 30 second exposure; the running around with torches swinging on string and flash fired from the sides at a low angle. I?ve cropped the image below because that to me is the part so totally full of life and colour.

I?ll be doing more night photography during a Beaford Arts residential over Easter and look out for the Bideford Bay Creatives Night Light Extravaganza which will hopefully be happening at the Westward Ho! Potwalloping Festival for the late May bank-holiday.