Happisburgh shoot - WDIL

A couple of weeks ago I went out with the Fuji to a little village called Happisburgh. This is one of my most favourite locations I have ever found! I’ll give you guys a brief description of why I love this place; The cliffs are constantly eroding and pulling clay and silt from the cliffs, the road that was present is also eroding with house parts (walls etc) constantly being washed up on the beach, there’s a cool ass lighthouse! There’s a tonne more reasons but there are a few for you.

I had planned on shooting at sunrise, but I couldn’t get out of bed! (I was tired that day!) So I decided to go down late afternoon instead. How this location sits is sunrise comes up over the sea and the sun sets behind the lighthouse. That sounds great doesn’t it! The problem with this is the lighthouse sits in the middle of a field, a field that is dead at the moment. When wheat (I don’t know what grows there), is growing, this place is great. Photographers flock here for an epic sunset shot. But with bare ground and dirt, the shots are a little meh in comparison. That made my look for a different composition.

In short, I walked 20 minutes down the cliff to where the path splits to a residential pathway where some houses are sitting. Straight away I saw this little spot had potential. An awesome wooden fence, a field with long grass an the lighthouse in the background. I tried working the composition but I wasn’t feeling it. The fence lead from the bottom right of the frame to the middle left and there was a huge sign on one of the more interesting fence posts. Basically the line lead the view point straight out of the frame before the eye could explore it, and the only way the sign could dissapear was to physically pull it off the post. So I didn’t take the shot. And I regret it!

If I’d have taken it and decided it sucked, then no harm done. I could have just forgotten about it. But, I didn’t. What an idiot.

Walking back to the car, something told me to walk further the other way and explore a little. I didn’t want to as it was cold and dark, and I just wanted to get home. But I ignored that and explored. What I found was there was no other way down to the beach, the holiday park was getting moved, and a couple of awesome spots to shoot in in the future. That may seem mundane to some, but I now know not to waste time on a portrait shoot trying to find an alternative way down to the beach, and some go to locations for awesome looking backgrounds.

I always tell myself to try something different on a shoot. I had just taken a few shots of the moon light hitting the ocean which looked OK, nothing special, just OK. This became a perfect candidate for a quick bit of experimentation. I shot a 15 second exposure with a lens zoom after around 7 seconds. Not a great series of shots, but they were different, kind of ghostly feeling. Panos, let alone vertical panos, are things I never shoot. So I tried a series of each. The standard pano sucked. My position and lens choice wouldn’t allow the beach and moon to both fit into the shot. But, the vertical pano did. Initially I thought it was also a throw away series, but after stitching and editing, it was my favourite shot of the day.

Take away points

  • Take the shot, even when you’re unsure

  • Explore areas even if you think you know them

  • Stay out longer

  • Try different things. You may like them