Occasionally spectacular weather notwithstanding, winter is not a great time of the year for landscape photographers. Days are short and what light there is often too murky for anything other than a few moody shots. So it’s a relief to see the days lengthen and the sun rise higher in the sky. Traditionally, winter for photographers was the time for sorting out negs, slides and prints, for cataloguing films and messing about in the darkroom. But digital photography has eliminated much of this kind of activity – you’ve already got your images catalogued, you’ve already decided what’s worth working on – and probably taken it as far as you can. There’s a lot more time for making photographs and now the light is returning, we can get back to taking pictures.
So, after a few weeks’ inactivity, I was anxious to get out and, with a weather front promising interesting skies, I chucked some gear in the truck and drove east to explore new territory – Grays, in Essex.
I’d often glimpsed Grays and the surrounding area in my peripheral vision, when driving over the QEII bridge, it seemed to offer interesting photographic possibilities; industry, mud flats, dereliction – just the sort of landscape I like, but the desire actually to stay on the bridge (and not go over the edge), prevented me from trying to get a better view. So today, with an urge to take a some snaps and no better ideas for a theme or location, I had the opportunity to drive down the A13 to take a closer look.
One of the frustrations of this kind of location are the endless trips down side roads, only to be confronted by a locked gate or security barrier leading to some industrial compound and access to the waterfront (the interesting bit) denied. Local knowledge really helps. I’d checked on Google maps and the satellite view, that some roads around this part of the Thames actually went to the shoreline, but you can never be sure, only large-scale OS maps really show access and I have none for around here (they cos t too much). On this occasion, however, the maps proved to be reasonably accurate, there are roads that headed riverwards and, presently, I found myself by the Thames in Grays Beach Park.
The park is a largish, grassy children’s’ playground, next to a bunch of large grain silos, which adjoin Tilbury docks, but the eponymous beach is best described as vestigial. It’s my first photographic trip for a while and I’d not really prepared for it. I hadn’t thought much about what I was going to do, a pity because there was plenty of photographic potential and the weather looked promising. The beach turned out to be a strip of deep, soft mud – I should have worn my wellies, they were in the car – and if I’d dressed more warmly, I could have stayed round for what turned out to be a spectacular sunset.
So perhaps sadly, the end result is this gallery – a mere shadow of what it might have been, however, I shall return, better prepared.
posted on 26 February 2011
category: photo links