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Beach Shoot. Planning Is Everything.

I’ve got a wish list of shoots. And a few of them are based around a beach, including the dunes, drift wood, fences and vegetation you can find at typical beaches. And last Friday I managed to organise a trip to Swansea Bay with Tabitha Taya to try and get some of these setups done.

Tabitha Taya

Tabitha Taya

It was a long drive in our rental car, with lots of traffic going into Wales. The sun was out, which was great and we should have had light until 9.30pm, so I wasn’t too worried about arriving a bit later than planned. Langland Bay was our destination and from Google Earth, images online and the webcam it looked perfect: a long curve with a sandy beach going towards the sea for about 100 yards. There is parking near the beach, a restaurant so we could get drinks, food and toilet breaks when we needed them. Very good, in theory. We arrived late and it turned out the whole town had come out to spend time on the beach, the tide was in, so there was about 20 yards of beach for everyone, and the sun was setting behind a hill which meant the light would be gone an hour sooner than expected. That meant we had to improvise and could only do a few of the ideas we had. I’d really hoped we could take the time and experiment. When the light was gone in Langland Bay we jumped in the car and chased the sun, desperately trying to get up higher and in western direction. We ended up jumping out of the car at a bit of farmland with a stream where we shot a set with a blanket and scarf in 5 minutes before the sun was completely gone and we started our long return journey.

I learned a few valuable lessons. I guess these are all a subset of “planning is everything”.

  1. You should really to do a recce before a shoot. Google Earth is not a substitute for a real visit.
  2. a) Learn about where the sun rises and sets and b) check whether it will set behind a hill, cutting your shooting time down considerably.
  3. Check what the tide is doing and what the situation is when you’re planning on shooting.
  4. Don’t underestimate traffic and travel times.
  5. If you want remote, be prepared to travel.
  6. Take your shoes off when you’re shooting on the edge of the surf!

A strange evening

We originally planned the shoot for Thursday the 12th, but had to move it to the 13th. Friday the 13th. I’m not superstitious, but it was quite a bizarre evening. Obviously not everything went according to plan as described above, but we also had a huge full moon dominating the sky, long stretches of lightning (heard no thunder), we passed an accident where a car had toppled over on an A-road and just about blocked the road (driver was OK, despite the car being completely trashed) and followed a very slow driving car next for miles on end with the letters “JNX” in the number plate. Yes, I know…