Sunrise at Boscastle

Dawn at Boscastle

Boscastle has been one of my favourite locations in Cornwall for landscape photography for some time now.  Perhaps my favourite Boscastle spot is to be up on Penally Hill around sunset.  You get the perfect view up there of the harbour inlet as it snakes its way out to sea.  If you are lucky the light from the setting sun lights up the sky and surrounding hills and islands. I have, however, never really considered shooting Boscastle at dawn.

This all changed when I recently visited Boscastle to finish off my video 3 GREAT Landscape Photography Locations in Cornwall.  I just needed to film the video intro and outro sections but as autumn approached and the number of daylight hours got smaller, it was becoming increasingly difficult to get to Cornwall before the sun set. 

While autumn months make sunset photography more challenging for me, it does, however, mean that sunrises are a bit easier to get up for.  So I decided that I would give sunrise at Boscastle a go.  The priority was to shoot the video, but that didn't need great light, and if I got some photographs, that would just be a bonus.

Wind, Clouds and Running

As usual, I arrived about one hour before sunrise to give myself plenty of time to get to my favourite spot up on Penally Hill.  When I got there though I soon decided that this was the perfect time to explore a few other spots.  So I descended down Penally Hill towards the sea giving me a much better view of the ocean and the island of Meachard.

The view down there was obviously very different from that up on Penally Hill.  Gone was any view of the harbour inlet and of Boscastle itself.  I did, however, have excellent views of the ocean, the coastline and surrounding islands.  I could also see all the turbulent weather out at sea including some low-level rain clouds, and some towering but beautiful cumulonimbus cloud.  I was though getting battered by some very strong winds but the views were worth it.

The first composition that caught my eye was this view of Meachard island.  Normally this island appears a lot smaller in compositions from Penally Hill, but down here I could make it my main focus.  I really like the mood of the image as it rains just above the island.  The image isn't as sharp as it should be because I had a real job keeping the camera stable in the wind, but I think it's worth sharing.

Meachard Rock Standing Strong - Boscastle, Cornwall. Nikon D850, Nikkor 24-70 mm f/2.8 at 56 mm, 5 seconds at ISO 64, f/11, Lee Filters Circular Polariser and ND Grad.

As I mentioned earlier, from the location where I was taking this photograph I couldn't see Boscastle or the harbour.  As it was getting near to sunrise at this point I was worried that I might be missing some good light so I packed up and moved on.  As the harbour came into view it soon became apparent that there was nothing exciting about the view on this morning.  I decided that I would maybe start doing the filming I had planned on doing.

As I set up the shot I could see behind that a big cumulonimbus cloud out at sea was turning orange from the morning light.  It looked spectacular, but was it worth packing up all the gear again and running back to get the shot?

Storm Rising over Meachard Rock - Boscastle, Cornwall. Nikon D850, Nikkor 24-70 mm f/2.8 at 27 mm, 0.5 seconds at ISO 64, f/13, Lee Filters Circular Polariser and ND Grad.

Looking at the image above, I believe that it was indeed worth running back to the coastline.  I had to move a little further north along the pathway to get this shot.  This is so I could position the cumulonimbus cloud more effectively in the frame.  I wish I'd been there a minute or two earlier as the light was slightly better, but I at least still managed to capture some of that orange glow reflected in the water.  It was still a tricky shot to get as the path is very narrow where I was and the wind was still strong enough to make getting a sharp image tricky.

Pleased, and somewhat surprised by the photographs I managed to capture I happily returned to my harbour location and shoot the video I needed.  I've been doing more exploring recently and I've been finding inspiration in unusual circumstances, but my dawn shoot at Boscastle on further affirmed that this type of exploration is well worth the effort.

So have you photographed Boscastle before?  Have you ever tried shooting a favourite location at a new time of day?  Let me know in the comments below.