Tricky Trevose

High Hopes

It’s been a while since I captured an image that I really connected with. Or it at least feels that way. Sometimes when the last few shoots don’t go as planned and you come away with a few OK images it’s all too easy to become negative about your own photography. I was starting to feel that way and what I needed was a really productive session out with the camera.

To get some inspiration I opened up Lightroom and looked through my catalogue of images. I was immediately drawn to my photographs of Trevose Head. It appeared that every visit had resulted in a decent image. In fact, some of my favourite images were taken from this location. With such an apparent high success rate at this location how could I go wrong?

I checked the weather forecast and tide times and decided that conditions were favourable enough to make the 1 hour 45-minute drive there. I had high hopes for this trip and I had visions of me capturing an image like this one I took back in 2016:

Last Light at Trevose Head, Cornwall - Nikon D750, Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 at 22mm, f/11, 97 seconds at ISO 100.


When I arrived at Trevose Head, conditions looked as predicted. The majority of the cloud was starting to clear revealing a lovely blue sky. Not great for photography I admit, but if the forecast was right, more cloud would arrive around sunset so I wasn’t too worried. At the car park it was very windy and I thought this might make long exposures a bit tricky, but as I descended to my favourite spot on the rocks it was a lot more sheltered.

I had arrived a couple of hours before sunset so I had plenty of time to work out my compositions. I already had a couple in mind. These were either based on existing shots I had taken or some new ones that I thought might prove interesting. Taking test shots this early on was tricky though due to the contrast of the scene. The sky was very bright and the rocks dark making getting a balanced exposure difficult. It’s a hard scene to grad as well as the horizon is broken by the lighthouse.

As the evening progressed and it got closer to sunset some cloud started to roll in. It was some of that nice high-level cloud you sometimes get so I was feeling optimistic. That feeling didn’t last long though. Though I was happy enough with the compositions I had I was finding it a difficult scene to photograph. The problem was that between the cloud and the horizon there was a very bright band of sky where there was no cloud cover. Even when the sun (which was at 90 degrees to me) was behind the cloud, the band of cloudless sky was very bright.

Tricky Trevose Head, Cornwall - Nikon D850, Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 at 22mm, f/11, 90 seconds at ISO 64.

Unfortunately I couldn’t use an ND grad effectively. The band of bright sky was close the horizon and given that the lighthouse breaks the line of the horizon, I couldn’t get the grad close enough without cutting through the lighthouse. I guess I could have bracketed some exposures, but my post-processing skills in that area aren’t that good, and I wasn’t convinced it would have delivered a natural looking result anyway.

Out to sea I could see a very impressive storm cloud approaching (see image below). This would have really added some drama to my coastal scene but it wasn’t going to get to my location before I lost the light so I decided that I’d had enough and packed my bag.

Isolated, Trevose Head, Cornwall - Nikon D850, Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 VR at 50mm, f/8, 1/3rd second at ISO 64.

I was really optimistic and excited about my trip to Trevose Head, but it turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. I don’t think I ever really got into my stride. Yes, the photography was challenging, but I also suspect I was hungry. I hadn’t eaten properly for a few hours and I know from past experience that being hungry really can ruin your creativity!

This hasn’t put me off from shooting Trevose Head again. Far from it. It still remains one of my favourite Cornish coastal locations to photography. If I ever want to be reminded though I’ll just watch the video I made from there.