Another full day off with no plans. I had a late one after a social last night, so don’t rise early. January is nearly over, though it’s still putting up a fight — gifting us with rain and cloud, but the weather forecast says it will clear up after noon. I crack on with a load of odd jobs in the morning, and when the sun actually does come out in the early afternoon, I’m running over the whole ‘should I, shouldn’t I’ routine when it comes to the question of venturing out.
I’m thinking of visiting Crychan Forest pretty soon, but with few hours of daylight left today, I figure that’s not a great idea. I enjoyed my coastal photography session earlier last week so much, I consider another coastal visit, and choose Burry Port — a village outside Llanelli with views across the Loughor estuary towards Gower. I visited it when I first relocated to Wales in 2015, though it was a grey, gloomy day. I check several forecasts as well as the tide charts. It should remain sunny, and it will nearly be high tide when I get there. I make the decision to go and pack hastily.
It’s golden hour when I get on the beach at Burry Port harbour. The clouds are sparse — none of the high-level clouds that I really need for a good sunset, so it’s not going to be the best. I snap a few reference shots which tell me I’m going to have to wait for the sun itself to drop behind the seawall before I can start trying to capture what I’m looking for. Today I’m going to try some long exposure shots to capture the swell of the tide in smoky wisps. Sat on a rock at the edge of the concrete boat launch, I pour a coffee and begin the wait for the light. I’m surprised there aren’t more people out this evening considering how miserable it’s been this week. I see maybe 15 people at most.
I greet a lady walking her dog and we get chatting. It’s high tide and there is limited access to the beach. Her poor dog whom she says has loved the beach since he was a puppy, looks visibly frustrated at the high tide, tail wagging sporadically. She asks if I put my photos in the paper. I tell her that I don’t, but I do have a website. I’m pleased I remembered to put my business cards. It’s been a fair while since handing out business cards was a reflex action.
The sun drops behind the seawall and the sky begins to saturate. With the waves coming right up to the edge of the beach, I’m limited as to the sort composition I can achieve. As the tide recedes a little, I have a more room for manoeuvre, but not much, as the daylight is quickly fading. Taking shots becomes a game of waiting for the ‘right’ scene with the waves, depressing the shutter release, and then running back up the beach to stay dry. I figure now would be a good time to use the interval feature on my shutter release to take a photo every 10 seconds or so while I stay dry away from the tripod — if I can just figure out how it works. While I’m absorbed in trying to figure out how to use this function, a rogue wave crashes in towards me. In the panic, I’m stuck about what to do: if I drop the shutter release and run, it will fall into the water, if I don’t drop it, I will pull the tripod over. The shin-deep wave washes over my feet. Amazingly, my toes are still dry! In hindsight, I suppose I could have grabbed the tripod, but thinking about it, it would have been risky. I’m not concerned about having wet feet. I’ll be headed home soon anyway.
I think I’ve got what I wanted now. I hang around anyway, trying different angles and to see if anything else happens with the light. The twilight sky is an incredibly deep, rich shade of blue. Combined with the dry day we’ve had, it gives me what I call my ‘spring vibes’ — a phenomenon I’ve noticed over the years. In the early months of the year, at twilight after a dry, clear day, I get this sort of ‘premonition’ or a feeling of the approach of spring. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a really pleasant feeling, and in some ways is a milestone signifying longer days and milder weather.
So with another coastal landscape to add to my collection, learning that it’s probably best to wear my fully waterproof boots and gaiters when shooting at high tide, a possible new visitor to my website, and experiencing my spring vibes, today has been a success. It makes me wonder why I procrastinate so much when it comes to deciding whether or not to.