I got it! Finally! This shot is following my 3rd attempt and is the result of some 720 miles driving back and forth, and several different methods which failed. Here’s how: –
It all started when I was looking at lighthouses in the UK to shoot and landed on perhaps the most synonymously ‘lighthouse’ looking light – the red and white striped Beachy Head Light. I was researching and found that a lot of the shots looked very similar, taken from the shore or from atop the cliff.
What I wanted to do to be different was to shoot the lighthouse from the sea, looking back and showing the enormous, imposing chalk cliffs towering behind the lighthouse and tapering off at the edges towards Birling Gap to the west and Eastbourne to the east where they slope down to sea level.
I tried a few different ways to do this, opting to first try and use my wide angle lens on my Nikon D810. This meant getting onto the water, and the first option I tried was an inflatable kayak. I arrived in the very early hours and parked near the top of the cliff, carrying the heavy kayak and the rest of my gear down a slope to the water. I slipped, slid, scratched myself up, got covered in mud and scratched myself on rocks, and when I finally got down to the waters edge (having already plotted the wave and tide charts) it was just too rough to go in so I was forced to turn around and walk all the way back up again.
The failure only spurred me on so, encouraged to get this elusive and clearly quite difficult shot, I went and bought a proper kayak. I made my way back down to the south coast again through the night and arrived in time to hit sunrise when the cliffs would be illuminated by the dawn light. It all went wrong again and this time the breakers at my new launch point, Burling Gap, were just huge. I tried to launch three times and got capsized each time, once nearly losing my dry bag containing all my gear which floated off while I was upside down in the water!
Those breakers were just too much to risk while I was there all alone – Mother Nature is no fair opponent. Soaked to the skin I got back to my car, got changed, and (via Starbucks) got myself back home.
It was all getting a bit silly, but I had to get the shot I wanted! I headed down again for a third time, and I got it! This time I opted to stay high and dry up on the clifftop, sending the drone out to capture a series of images from which I would stitch a panorama. I took 8 shots from left to right, and this is the result: –
I got it! Sunrise at Beachy Head was finally mine, and the shot I wanted was made real!
The perspective still doesn’t quite show the scale of the cliff versus the lighthouse properly, but it’s exactly the shot I had in mind.
A little idea made real is a great feeling! And this one is all for me!