Blog - The lure of the Mount

03rd August 2010
With my young family keeping me on my toes this year, I’ve had to be more selective with the time I can dedicate to photography. I also have not been able to keep as up to date with the blog as I would have liked. So to redress the balance, here is a story I wanted to catch up with from earlier in the year:

St Michael’s Mount. Does it need an introduction? It’s located at Marizion, just off the A30 near Penzance, and it’s fabulous!

The imposing building atop the island has seen use as both a castle and a monastery through the years. Although they could not have made a more photogenic building if they tried. Now it’s run by the National Trust.

The life of a landscape photographer means I stay plugged into the weather forecast, ready to set the alarm clock to some ungodly hour whenever a vague chance of good light presents itself. Most people look forward to a nice sleep in on January 1st, but not me when the BBC says conditions look good. They can’t always be wrong can they?

The original plan was to head to the coastline further west, but as I drove past Panzance, I saw the clouds in position. With a low tide too, the lure of the Mount was just too great.

I have had good shots here from all times of day, but dawn is unquestionably my favourite. With the short days in January, the sun rises over the sea to the left of the Mount, and if you're lucky, then for one glorious moment, the near side of the Mount is bathed in stunning golden light.

I have long wanted to photograph the causeway in this light, but always been thwarted before. Either the tide has been wrong, or the sky overcast, or raining, or all three! As I arrived on the beach, I thought I was to be denied again. It was supposed to be low tide, but it seems no one told the sea. The causeway was still hidden below the water. Fortunately the tide was still going out, and at quite a pace, but it was still a nervous wait to see if the path appeared before the sun cleared the horizon.

As the water receded, the causeway was not the only thing to emerge from the sea. All around me, where once had been water, was now an expanse of sand ripples, rocks, pools of water and reflections. This I just could not resist, so hopping off the causeway for a moment, I found a good viewpoint where the sand was rippled into a microscopic landscape of hills and valleys – edged by a pool of water, perfectly still with a brilliant reflection of the sky. The sand was fresh from the sea and pristine, so I needed to be careful not to put my footprints where I wanted to place the photograph.

With the sun finally shining, I took a series of shots – including a wonderful panoramic built up from 4 separate exposures. The light was as good as I hoped for. I even had time to hop back onto the causeway to get the shot I had wanted, with the cobbles filling the foreground and picking up the warm colours from the low sun.

All too soon the dawn light faded into the cooler daylight tones, and it was time to head home. What a way to see in the new year!


Comments

Photo comment By David: Two fabulous shots Matt. Makes all those previous attempts to get these shots worthwhile.
Photo comment By carol french: absolutely love your work matt. most talented photographer in the west country.

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