Sometimes you just make a snap decision that turns out rather well. It was last Sunday and I was heading down the A16 after photographing one of my English Civil War re-enactments at Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire. While the weekend seemed to be almost over, it was a nice afternoon with lovely wispy clouds as well as sun, and a likely 7pm sunset seemed worth hanging around for. I was trying my hardest to tell myself not to carry on and drive straight back down to London. But where to go?
Usually before any re-enactment weekend I look up possible locations for other photography but I’d already ticked off one side-trip to Skegness on Saturday evening and another, into Boston, on Sunday morning. Maybe I should simply get off the main road and drive around looking for isolated trees, water-filled dykes and big skies? At least, that’s what the enormous flatness of that part of Lincolnshire seemed to offer, and I wasn’t too enthused. So as I came to the A17 junction I was heading straight ahead and thinking I’d be back home before dark. It was right for Sleaford, which I didn’t want, straight ahead for Spalding and London, and King’s Lynn was the left turn.
And that’s when plans changed. My weekend’s shortlist had almost included Hunstanton since I’d once seen a photograph of rounded boulders and cliffs on its beach (I don’t actually remember the picture itself or where I saw it). But once I’d seen where it was on the map, Hunstanton had quickly fallen back into the limbo of all those locations in Norfolk that I always put off for another day. Nothing against the county, but I never have a reason to go, it’s such a trek to get there, and it’s then an even longer trek to anywhere in Norfolk once you are there. This afternoon, though, I signalled left and Hunstanton was where I was heading. London could wait.
Bits of luck then seemed to tumble one after another. When I reached Hunstanton it looked like there were some cliffs at one end, and so that’s where I chose to park. For all I knew, it could have been the wrong spot, but I found my way down to the beach and was right by these wonderful striped cliffs. Maybe they are well-known, at least among geologists, but I had no idea they would be so spectacular. The red and white strata looked amazing in the setting sun.
Keeping the camera level seemed far less important than keeping my feet dry as the tide came in, and all I really needed to do to the picture afterwards was straighten my horizon and correct its white balance (it was taken with the Big Stopper and neutral grad).
The problem is, I can’t quite see how to make it black and white. Yes, that is the way I look at most photos!