Friday, 20 April 2012

Westward Ho! Pier - Nature's Last Word

Unless you happen to visit at low tide, the fact that the seaside village of Westward Ho! in Devon once had it's very own pier is easily missed. Designed as a promenade and landing stage, construction commenced in August 1870 and the first seafaring passengers landed the following July. However the power of the North Atlantic had been rather underestimated (or was the strength of their then current construction methods overestimated?) and by October that same year a 150 foot length of the pier had been lost to the sea.

The Pier At Westward Ho!, Devon
The Pier At Westward Ho!, Devon

Repairs were duly undertaken and the pier reopened in July 1873 but nature was to have the last word though. In 1880 further damage was sustained at the hand of the sea during a storm and the pier subsequently had to be demolished. All that remains today are the supports you see here which are visible at low tide.

As some readers will know, I am a regular visitor to Westward Ho! and the remains of the pier has been something I have always planned to photograph but surprisingly the right combination of low tide, time of day, weather and lighting etc. for the image I had planned has never coincided with me being there to observe it. One gloomy day during the summer before last I decided the time for waiting was over and took a walk down to the rocks overlooking the pier at low tide. My intention was to make a photograph no matter what the conditions.

The Pier At Westward Ho!, Devon
The Pier At Westward Ho!, Devon

As it happens the conditions that day, while not meeting my long standing requirements, turned out to be far from dull and I am quite pleased with the moody result. I had to compromise with my first composition above due to a group of divers bobbing around in the sea just out of frame to the right. I gave up waiting for them to move on and exposed one sheet before packing up and heading off. Needless to say not long after I had walked away they all swam ashore!

By now though I was exploring alternative viewpoints so rather than return to my initial spot I proceeded to set-up for the second image you see here and I was rewarded with some great storm clouds blowing in from the south west.

In case you are wondering what the pier once looked like:

Westward Ho! Pier
Westward Ho! Pier (Circa 1870)

Tuesday, 3 April 2012


Well winter came and went here in Somerset with only the lack of leaves on the trees as the give away of the season. I'm not entirely sure it even rained, certainly all the talk of hosepipe bans suggests if it did, it was easily missed!

So, with the leaves now returning and the landscape starting to shift towards a lush green my thoughts are now turning to new subjects to photograph in the coming weeks. Whenever I think of spring I am invariably drawn to woodland Bluebells - a lingering childhood memory of walks in the forest and the delight at finding carpets of blue amongst the trees no doubt the cause. Hmm, that's just triggered a memory of unwittingly stomping though a wood ant's nest wearing indecently short shorts (this was the '70's after all) and the inevitable attack from thousands of angry ants as they defended their home!

It won't be long before these lovely flowers are once again carpeting the woodlands of Britain so, I thought I would share a slideshow of my favourite bluebell images to get you in the mood.

On a slightly different topic, I've just taken delivery of a little Panasonic Lumix GX1. Initial impressions are it's every bit as lovely to use as the old GF1 I am also lucky enough to own. After fearing the worst when the much smaller GF2 and GF3 models came out (the removal of most of the manual controls) the GX1 was a pleasant surprise. Despite a slightly smaller size, the GX1 has retained most of the controls that made the GF1 so great but with a few improvements (eg a larger and rubberised hand grip meaning it's less likely to be dropped).

I am not one to keep upgrading kit unnecessarily and while the GF1 has easily paid for it's self from the fine images it has produced, I had no intention of replacing it. However I was in need of an extra reasonable quality HD video camera body and the GX1 made sense. I am keeping the GF1 but which one will find a permanent place in my large format kit bag I wonder? Time will tell.

You may have noticed my blog and website have had a slight makeover this week. I decided that a pure white background was not the ideal way to view images and I also took the opportunity to spring clean and tidy-up a few things that have been annoying me for a while. Hope you like it.