Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

I went out to photograph the storm and got something better

If you live anywhere near much of our coastline you will have surely heard the wind really start to pump around Tuesday afternoon. When I went out for a walk with Storm and my girls before school on Wednesday there were a bunch more trees knocked over in the woods. You don't need me to tell you how seriously that wind was pumping. I rang my mate Del in the Isles of Scilly to see if he was still there and he told me they'd had gusts to over 90MPH during the night. Some storm.

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I dropped my girls at school on Wednesday morning then came back home, packed some camera gear up, donned waterproofs, put Storm in the back of the car, and headed out to have a look. I drove along the top of Whitsand Bay and I've never seen it like that before - a churning mass of angry white, foam everywhere, and a definite sense of the sea having a serious strop.

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I knew I would get a good sense of what was going on from the top of Rame Head where there is a small ruined chapel, and sure enough there were no other cars parked up by the coastguard lookout. I am hardly small, but it wasn't overly easy to stand up straight in the driving wind and rain, and I waved back at the bloke in the coastguard hut, while no doubt he was wondering what on earth I was doing striding out across the sodden grass. As for Storm, well I don't think she has any comprehension what torrential rain is because she just wants to run and run whatever the weather.

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Now it did look pretty impressive from the top of Rame Head. I could look at spots we fish and think how many days/weeks/years it might take for things to get back to relative normality, and wow was that sea raging. Queener's was taking an almighty battering, and the waves roaring down the side of Rame Head were quite something. I waited for a bit of light and shot a few photos, more for a memory of how rough it was rather than anything else. Not scarily rough like some of the photos and video footage I have seen subsequently from Dawlish, Porthleven etc., but plenty rough enough. And yes, I was wondering what weight jig head might enable me to try fishing in those conditions!! 10oz?

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Anyway, I stayed around that little chapel for a bit, while Storm hung around outside looking at me and wondering why we weren't walking more. The light was up and down and you could watch the rain storms tracking through, but about halfway back to the car I turned around to look at the sea again and there they were - God beams. Nope, I am not remotely religious, but when you get those shafts of light breaking through stormy skies and lighting up patches of an angry sea, what else can you call them but God beams? I have a thing about this sort of light, but it doesn't happen that often, or rather it doesn't look flat out awesome unless you a few specific things coming together - which they were now.

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It's very much a case of how you the photographer wants to interpret what is in front of you, in that a "correctly" exposed photograph isn't going to really make those beams jump out at you nor help give definition to the resulting light patches on the surface of the sea. I don't know how many of you are remotely into photography, but aside from the engage auto-focus button on my cameras, the other most used button is the exposure compensation. How do you go about helping those God beams really jump out? Dial in some minus exposure compensation to deliberately darken the photograph and allow those glorious beams and light patches to really stand out. And because it's digital you can afford to play with different amounts of exp comp. Oh, and try your best to hold the camera still in all that wind (a very high shutter speed helps).

We walk a lot as a family and we quite often head out to Rame and the coast path around there. I have seen some pretty impressive God-beams up there before but have not had my cameras with me, and like hell am I going to even think about shooting them with my iPhone. You've got to draw the line somewhere. I headed out on Wednesday morning to take a few photos of the sea and ended up with a bunch of God beam photos that I am absolutely over the moon with. Perhaps it's just me who loves those shafts of light playing across the sea, but I have made some of them available to buy as prints, canvasses etc. here. As I said on my FB page the other day, I am unconvinced about people being prepared to buy things like this off the internet, but perhaps these photos talk to you as much as they do to me.

Roll on England v Scotland tomorrow. I have a feeling that we might do something pretty spectacular up at Murrayfield, unless that is the Scots stuff the ball up their shirts and keep possession for the entire game. As for the fallout from the winter cricket, can you believe what is going on? Holy cow, talk about the proverbial hitting the fan. You all have a good weekend. Oh, and I am 41 today. Crumbs. I just don't feel remotely grownup enough to be this old. At least my girls told me that I look younger than my mate who is 52. Looks like yet another storm is brewing as well............

Henry Gilbey13 Comments