Inside this issue
End frame: Confluence by Jenifer Bunnett
Alison Taylor chooses one of her favourite images
I retired from teaching and University administration 3 years ago and am now a keen landscape photographer. I spend most of my time exploring in Yorkshire around the Wolds, Dales, North York Moors and the coast.
One of my recent projects was in the Yorkshire Wolds photographing the textures and patterns that predominate in the gentle folds of the hills and field systems. I have recently become a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society and in the process I have realised that my real photographic passion is for water; whether it is lakes, waterfalls or the sea. Especially the sea!
Considering that I was born and bred 45 miles from the nearest coastline I have a very strong affinity to the sea. All my friends are fully aware of my love of the coast and that I can happily spend hours sitting on a rock, or a bench, watching the sea ebbing and flowing across the shore. The sea constantly changes and whenever I travel to the coast I can never be sure of what I will experience, even after planning and consulting weather forecasts and tide tables. I love being out with my camera photographing mountains, rivers, lakes and woodland but I have discovered that my real passion is for the North East coast and the sea.
To my eye Jenifer Bunnett produces inspirational coastal photographs and studying them is very useful to me as I develop as a seascape photographer. I enjoy browsing through social media and I discovered Jenifer’s work whilst searching #seascapes on Instagram and I was led to her photograph ‘solitary.’ It depicts a lone groyne post surrounded by a flowing sea with a stormy sky in the background. It reminded me of my own favourite photographs ‘Bird at Blyth Beach’ which also features a single post out to sea although that is where the similarity ends. This encouraged me to visit her website and I unearthed her shoreline and sea galleries which are now inspiring my exploration of the North East coast.
Jenifer’s background in photography is completely opposite to mine. She spent her childhood learning darkroom skills and camera craft from her father. Her university education was also centred on photography as she successfully completed a BA in Photography and Film. My own interest in photography only developed when I was too old to chase a lacrosse ball but I wanted a hobby that enabled me to spend as much time as possible outside enjoying the countryside. Taking many of my holidays in the Lake District provided me with splendid vistas of mountains and lakes but it was only when I retired that I had the time to regularly drive east towards the delights of Flamborough, Whitby and the Northumberland coast.
Many of Jenifer’s photographs are of the sea reacting with the shoreline. They capture the swash of the wave as it travels up the shore and its return to the sea. I have spent many hours studying waves and how a tide develops on the shore. It isn’t straightforward at all as there are so many variables; the phase of the moon, wind speed and wave fetch, water depth, and the direction of the currents. Jenifer has clearly spent many hours learning the minutiae of her locations and waiting for the conditions which produce the patterns and lines in her shoreline photographs. It is impossible to take such intricate photographs without knowing your locations intimately.
My favourite photograph from her Shoreline collection is called Confluence. At first glance, it seems that there is just a single white wave starting its return to the sea but then my eye is drawn deeper into the photograph where there are actually many layers. Immediately behind it another wave is covering the beach and producing a beautiful diagonal across the foreground leading to a line of breaking waves and the sea. The band of the sea then leads to a glimpse of yellow light underneath the brooding storm clouds. The sky is an important element in all seascapes as there is rarely any major landmark or feature to provide a distraction. The strong sky stops the eye drifting out of the frame and draws me back to the strip of sea which is mimicking the colour and mood of the clouds. The other feature of ‘Confluence’ is that there is no sense of place. There are no cliffs or lighthouse to enable the viewer to recognise an actual place. There is no location for a photographer to go and stand; it is just the sea and the sky at one point in time. I am transported into Jenifer’s world for that instant. However, the moment has passed and can never return but it has been captured perfectly with a long exposure to enable the camera to track the waves’ paths.
How has this influenced my photography? Like many seascape photographers, I have learnt that you must know your locations thoroughly and be prepared to visit them frequently in order to get the photograph you really want. For me, the challenge of capturing a scene at Saltwick Bay is very satisfying. Apart from the real danger of being cut off from safety the tide rises and falls very fast and it is easy to spot a photograph too late. How many times have I stood on a spot pleading for just one more wave before an opportunity is lost? In her galleries, Jenifer demonstrates that there are many different facets to coastal photography and I am trying to widen my expertise and technical ability to enable me to portray what I am feeling. I need to use ultra fast shutter speeds to make breaking waves look like ice and sculptures but longer exposures are required to emphasise and draw the lines and flow of the sea on the shore.
Like all seascape photographers, I feel a sense of awe when I am at the coast and I am watching the force of the sea crashing or gently seeping into the shoreline. We are privileged to be there to try and capture the essence of each unique moment. And then to share.
The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever ~ Jacques Yves Cousteau
Read more about Jenifer’s work at:
This article is dedicated to Aunt Cis, aged 102, who was responsible for my love of the outdoors and my photography. RIP.