The jetty at Pettico Wick near St Abbs Head is one of those photo locations which has an almost iconic status among photographers in the Edinburgh and East Lothian region. Despite this, I have never really attempted to have a go at seriously photographing it. Three years ago, I made a half hearted attempt and set my alarm really early to be there for sunrise. However I made two mistakes when doing that. First, i did not check the tide timetable, and my visit coincided with low tide. Low tide is by far the worst time of day to get any keepers at Pettico Wick. Second, sunrise at this location stinks, as the sun rises behind some steep cliffs, and the light is almost guaranteed to be unflattering and even unpleasant. Nevertheless, I spent some time in Photoshop and rescued some mediocre images from the recycle bin. I even got some good exposure on Flickr with some of those shots. However, I’ve never been satisfied with my pictures from Pettico Wick, and this has been bothering me ever since I have tried to step my photography up a notch. In between, I have visited St Abbs quite often, but never with the sole intention of getting that cracking keeper. Two weeks ago I decided it was time to settle the score. The right tide coincided with sunset, which at this time of year should be at a perfect angle.
As usual, I arrived early at my destination, roughly three quarters of an hour before sunset, which meant I had some time to explore some compositions before hammer time. Of course, I had this great vision of slapping on my 10 stops neutral density filter and coming home with ridiculously long exposures, with creamy clouds and silky water. But, this wasn’t meant to happen.
When setting up, I found out my remote shutter release wasn’t working. I was panicking a little thought of surrendering and going home, as what’s the point of all this if not to shoot long exposures? For about 15 minutes I despaired, but eventually I calmed down and realised an open mind is needed when shooting landscapes. Always using slow shutter speeds is hardly creative isn’t it? I also realised I was going to be able to use the ND106 with exposures up to 30s, which is shorter than I initially wanted, but that’s life I guess. The light was great, the tide was great, and I think I managed to get some decent compositions, so I think I should get over it!
Below are the three photographs I like the most from this session. And as you can see, despite these photographs being taken in less than 10 minutes from each other, the light changed quite substantially between them. Had I shot long exposures, I would probably only have had time to shoot either a horizontal or vertical composition. Perhaps my dying shutter release was meant as a reminder to explore shorter shutter speeds more often in the future! However, I ordered a new remote shutter release as soon as I got home though!
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