For a little while now I have been contemplating taking on 'a photography challenge' which would take me out of my comfort zone, and thanks to the brainchild of my friend Liz Stonebridge I have spent the last month trying to capture the best photos I can but using some very strict criteria and limited flexibility.
A lovely bunch of people in Guernsey decided that they were going to raise lots of money for the wonderful local charity that is 'Les Bourgs Hospice' http://www.lesbourgshospice.org.gg/ by swimming in 30 different bays over 30 consecutive days in July. Luckily Guernsey does have 30 bays within relatively easy reach........although a few of them do require some steep cliff walks. Given that many people work full time and have homes to run then achieving this will have taken some very impressive commitment, anyone who thinks it is easy should try it out in 2015!!!
So, inspired by all of these people & the concept, I decided that I would also do the '30 Bays in 30 Days' challenge but armed with my camera instead of my 'budgie smugglers'. So my challenge was as follows;
1. I had to take the best photo I could of each bay on the list.
2. I had to do the bays in the exact numerical order as per the list starting on 1/7/14 the same as the swimmers.
3. Irrespective of the weather conditions I could not postpone a bay to a different day or switch them.
4. I work full time, sometimes I only had a 10 minute window of availability at lunchtime to get my shot.
5. The photo must be recognisable as the bay in question.
6. To donate all of the photos to Les Bourgs Hospice so that they can sell them to raise more for their charity.
All in all this was going to test me massively, and at times, drive me demented! But raising money for charity shouldn't be easy so giving up virtually all of my free time for an entire month was a reasonable price to pay in order to achieve the desired results.
Below are the results of my efforts together with a little explanation of the shot & 'getting it', hopefully you will like one of them enough to buy one for either you or a loved one and raise some money for 'Les Bourgs'. Even if you dont buy one, then please share this blog with your friends, family & work colleagues as they might be interested :-)
CLICK ON EACH IMAGE BELOW TO SEE THE LARGER VERSION!!!!
Day 1 - Vazon Bay
Vazon Bay is always a favourite of mine, however due to the huge variation of conditions it displays then it isn't always guaranteed to deliver what the photographer wants. On this occasion though there was a little bit of surf and a fairly colourful dusk so I was quite happy with this one.
Day 2 - Albecq
This is the first time I have taken my camera to Albecq...........but it wont be the last!!! Because Albecq sits between Vazon & Cobo I have always tended to favour one of the more popular bays. I was actually dreading this bay as it can appear quite baron and boring, but oh boy did it deliver on this occasion with the sunset just exploding with colour. Personally I think this shot was extremely lucky, but seeing as there are 28 more bays to go I'll take whatever luck I can get!!!
Day 3 - Grandes Rocques (Saline Bay)
This is a beautiful beach and a family favourite throughout Guernsey. Whilst it was a beautiful day I literally had 10 minutes at lunchtime to leap out of the car, find a half decent composition and hope for the best. This is all part of the challenge but the conditions were kind and I am so pleased the guy in the bright orange waterproofs gave the shot an extra splash of interest.
Day 4 - Port Soif
Yet another family favourite, beautiful at high tide but somewhat rocky when the tide is out. This was another occasion whereby I had the grand total of 15 minutes to leap out of the car and find a shot that does the bay justice. The place that I wanted to take a photo was swarming with a school outing so not exactly appropriate for me to steam in with a big camera!!! That said, big thanks to the school as they had put these flags out so that the kids knew where they were supposed to swim, for me this certainly helped to bring the shot to life.
Day 5 - Portinfer
Total nightmare, I love this bay and have met many good friends over the years when surfing & socialising here. Therefore I was extremely keen to do Portinfer justice however the weather had other ideas..........namely drizzle!!! Drizzle is just so hard to work with as there isn't an easy way to hide from it, but there was a very small break in the weather (max 1 hour) where I just had to go for it. The sky was boring, the rocks were exposed and virtually everything I tried looked plain miserable. So as a last ditch effort I used the fisheye lens hence the curved horizon.
Day 6 - Baie des Pecqueries
Again this was a bay that I have never photographed before, mainly due to the fact that it is extremely rocky and baron. This was one that I took on a weekend (that is just how the order fell) so I was pleased to be able to hunt out a decent composition and explore the place properly as oppose to rushing around like an idiot in my lunch break. The conditions were excellent and I have now found several other interesting spots in the area to revisit.
Day 7 - Baie de Port Grat
Port Grat, at high tide on a sunny day, is simply beautiful ........ shame I had to photograph it at low tide in between showers. This bay is quite a regular spot for me and works especially well for 'dog shoots' as there are less ways to escape. No dogs in sight on this occasion, just some plonker up to his knees in sea water hoping and praying not to fall over with all his camera gear. This is quite a moody shot, especially with those distant clouds, but the boats add a touch of colour to an otherwise bland photo. Again there was less than 45 mins of 'dry weather' to get this!!!
Day 8 - Rousse
Oh boy this shot was a major rush, the opposite end of the island during my lunch break in lunchtime traffic and with a rapidly rising tide ......... not to mention numerous people in my way enjoying the weather and sea conditions. I was hoping the tide would have been higher up the beach but alas it wasn't so I abandoned that idea and targeted the pier. This shot was a 20 second exposure using a 'big stopper' filter, without this filter the shot would have been very boring and purely a snap. This method allowed me to capture some movement in the water and clouds.
Day 9 - Le Grand Havre
Probably the hardest shot so far, I was at this bay for 2 and half hours and was ready to storm off in a mood but common sense prevailed (just!) and I stuck with it. My main battle here was light, the sky was so incredibly bright when I first arrived and to top this off the seaweed was almost black, not ideal to say the least! As the evening drew in and the light improved I focused all of my attentions on composing a shot that featured this boat..........which has seen better days! Overall I am delighted with this but on the night I never thought this would be the end result! :-)
Day 10 - Ladies Bay/Les Ammereurs
After last nights marathon shoot I had already decided that this one would need to be captured in less time! Ladies Bay is beautiful, there is a lovely little pier which sadly was covered by sea water by the time I arrived. Hence I decided to focus on these boats, as you will see there is movement in the water which meant movement in the boats. From memory I took about 40 shots to before they naturally formed a nice curved line.
Day 11 - Baie de la Jaonneuse
This is a wonderful little bay on the very north of the island, apparently it is also known locally as 'Rat Beach' not that I saw a single rat!!! This was a pleasure to shoot, firstly because I had taken an afternoon off work so there was no rush, secondly because the weather was lovely and lastly the bright green algae covered rocks gave the shot a very different look. Shame this bay is about as far away from my house as is possible in Guernsey.
Day 12 - Pembroke Bay
Pembroke Bay is yet another family favourite due to the huge expanse of lovely clean sand and very few rocks other than at the sides of the bay. Instead of using any long exposure techniques I decided to look for a nice clean simple shot. Once again the weather was on my side and the tide was miles out, not really a problem though with sand as lovely as this. Personally I like the perfect shadow created by the white bouy.
Day 13 - Lancresse Bay
No shortage of colour on this day, in fact I couldn't have asked for much more (other than the tide could have been a little higher!). But, I had limited time so I was grateful for all that 'Mother Nature' had delivered. Originally I wanted my photo to include the Martello Tower which was roughly 50 years behind my left shoulder, but the Alzheimer's Charity walk we using it for their function........another fantastic cause. I am happy with this shot although it is so vibrant that it is almost a little bit too green, even after I toned it down.
Day 14 - Fontenelle Bay
Ok, another first for me. This bay is baron to say the least, extremely rocky and not exactly easy on the eye. So prior to taking this shot I had already decided that I wanted to create a high contrast monochrome image. On the day there was a fair bit of wind together with plenty of clouds, stick this with the a little movement in the water and it was 'game on'. This was a 25 second exposure and goes to show that sometimes, thinking a little differently, can get a much better result. Personally I would have loved to have stuck around for longer once the tide was up.
Day 15 - Bordeaux
Another serious 'rush job', 20 minutes to case the place, set up and try to nail something half decent. Initially I tried very hard to get a shot that didn't include the big hideous industrial chimneys, but now that they are there I actually dont mind them. The tide was too high to get a good shot of the harbour and this was just about the only composition to do the bay any justice. On the plus side there was some movement in the water and plenty in the clouds, by no means a staggering photo but it will do in 20 mins.
Day 16 - Havelet Bay
Havelet Bay is a funny old place, it is nice to see Castle Cornet in the distance and even better when the outer islands are visible. But it can be a bit on the smelly side! Luckily for me I am photographing it and not swimming it. For this particular shot I was hoping for something quite subtle, the tide was rising quickly and the light disappearing just as fast. Therefore this was a slight race against time but I was pleased to get that last bit of sunlight hitting the castle together with some soft movement in the water, this was roughly a 4-5 minute exposure.
Day 17 - Fermain Bay
Yawn.........very early start for this one and I arrived here at 6:00am. This was the first of the "bloody hell, I have got to cart all my gear down a cliff" shots. Ok, so I did cheat on this one at drove all the way down on my Vespa........but I was was still up very early. When I first arrived I really didn't know what the best approach would be, the sun brightly illuminated the right side of the bay whilst the left side was dark & shadowy. Ultimately I decided to fire straight at the sun using a long exposure to calm things down. Having the cabin cruiser moored in the bay was a little bonus!
Day 18 - Marble Bay
Another first for me, and now I know why it is called 'Marble Bay' due to the amount of marble down there........OK OK so I know that sounds blatantly obvious but many things in Guernsey do have a nickname. So this was a good old climb down the east coast cliffs only to find a rather dreary looking view, just what I needed on a Friday evening! In the end I was quite pleased with this result as the clouds were moving quickly and those steps had to be a feature otherwise who's to say where this was taken, shooting them was much better than climbing them!
Day 19 - Divette
Well this was the shot that nearly didn't happen, not because I forgot....nor did I run out of time.....nor was I 'not bothered'...........but I was at the WRONG PLACE! Thankfully this was one of the rare occasions when my other half Kelly decided to join me for the walk down the cliffs.......to Bec De Nez!!! Whilst I was happy taking my shot convinced that I was in the right place she spotted a sign that said otherwise! So back up the cliff I went and had to head south only to find a lovely big dog was digging huge craters in the sand, thank god for Photoshop :-)
Day 20 - Moulin Huet
I love this place, yes it is a killer getting back up the hill but the view is certainly worth it. This was taken on a lovely warm Sunday afternoon and needless to say there were numerous swimmers and kayakers enjoying the summer. The sunlight here was hitting the rocks nicely so, swimmers aside, this was a pleasure to take.
Day 21 - Saints Bay
This was another first for me, although I have photographed the little harbour many times this is the first time I have made it down to the beach..........and wasn't it boring! Ok so the beach is quite nice but from a photography perspective I shall not be rushing back. Just when I thought all was lost a decent set of waves came in and livened everything up a bit, this was strange as they only lasted a couple of minutes and either side of them it was calm. Later on when editing these shots I noticed Condor in the distance (not on this shot), that explained the waves!
Day 22 - La Jaonnet Bay
This was the one I was scared of, this is where I thought the whole project could come unstuck due to my inability to scale mountains whilst loaded up with camera gear. Many of you may know that this is a nudist beach and the thought of getting any 'unwanted cracks' in my lens just added to the apprehension. But, what was I worried about, there is a perfectly sturdy ladder (top left) and the only person there was about to leave. I had this entire bay to myself and it is absolutely beautiful, I shall return in winter but the climb back up is hideous.......be warned!!
Day 23 - Petit Bot Bay
Aaaaarrrrrgggggghhhhh!!!!! I hate this shot, but it really was the best I could do during a 15 minute visit at lunchtime......when the tide was out........when the sky was rubbish........when there are 'beach goers' mooching around. No matter which way I faced the composition was rubbish, I am really gutted about this as Petit Bot can be a wonderful place to photograph. Again this was a 'slap in the face' reminder that the challenge would throw me some real curve balls, and on this occasion it threw most of them at the same time!
Day 24 - Portelet
And now for something completely different!!! Ok so you are wondering what the hell I am going on about. Well I set myself another mini challenge that I would try to only use my 24mm wide angle lens for the whole project, I know I had to use the 'fish eye' at Portinfer due to awful conditions but so far every other shot had been with the same lens. But on this occasion I conceded defeat and hooked out the big zoom, this was the first time I had tried it with my new filters and I have to say I am very happy with the results, I wanted a silhouette type of shot and it worked.
Day 25 - Rocquaine Bay
5:50am start to get to Roquaine for this shot. Fort Grey AKA 'The Cup and Saucer' has been photographed by everyone, but I never get sick of seeing it. The light on this occasion was wonderful and the early morning sun hit the fort just as I had hoped. Whilst I was there this lady turned up for a swim, clearly I asked he if she was doing the 30/30 but she looked at me as if I had 2 heads so I am guessing she wasn't .......oh well :-)
Day 26 - L’Eree Bay
Mmmm, this was an interesting one, whilst L'eree is popular it is not exactly a photographers dream. I looked for numerous compositions and decided that I needed to get my feet wet, slap on the 'Big Stopper' filter, fire open the shutter for 5 minutes and hope the sky would work some magic. Add to that some rather heavy editing and voila..........not brilliant but it is L'eree and it kind of works..........just...........I think!
Day 27 - Perelle Bay
Well this is cheerful!!!! Actually I knew the sky was going to be heavy so my focus was to get a mean & moody shot, whilst this may not be 'Summer in a nutshell' I am very pleased with it. It did take me several attempts to get this, mainly because some old chap thought he would wash his feet right in front of my camera, the things you see when you haven't got a gun!!!
Day 28 - Crocq Bay
Another first from a photography perspective, upon arrival I was wondering what I could achieve here but, given its rocky landscape, I couldn't have wished for much more. The sun set perfectly and remained visible to the horizon, the sea had some movement and spray, a couple of clouds littered the sky, the rocks had reflections and the whole thing was framed with L'Eree & Lihou in the distance, all in all a result me thinks.
Day 29 - Richmond
Well this was the last of my early starts, having checked the sunrise before hand I was hoping for this area to be well lit but without the light being too harsh. Unlike many of my other shots this one is about as raw as it gets therefore no long exposure, no filters, no fancy editing just a very simple shot. I was in two minds about the graffiti, whilst I don't really approve of it from a vandalism point of view I honestly think that this would look like a very boring old bit of bunker without it.
Day 30 - Cobo Bay
Well this was an important shot, the last one of the challenge and I really wanted to get the sunset on the final day. The biggest hurdle to nailing this shot was the amount of people on the beach, it was a perfect summers evening added to which circa 400 people turned up for the final 30/30 swim. Some 4 hours after I arrived at Cobo the sky and sea started to work some magic and, eventually, people got out of my way...............how dare they use the beach when I am trying to take a photo!!!! ;-)
What happens now/final thoughts..........!!!
Ok, so this is where I am hoping that all this work generates the desired results and makes some money for Les Bourgs Hospice. They have a page dedicated to sales which can be found via the following link, it is anticipated that the photos above will be available for purchase from the week commencing 4th August 2014 (keep revisiting it just in case there is a slight delay). Please dont be scared to have a look, there are options for all budgets with prices starting from £25 for a decent sized print;
This challenge has been brilliant and made me work very hard to get the best shots possible on the day in question. Some of them I am delighted with, others dont do the bay justice, but I know I have done my very best and committed as much time and effort as possible. In the big scheme of things I cannot complain at all as I am healthy & capable enough to be able to do this project.........many of those at Les Bourgs wish they were healthy enough to do it and one day any one of us could very easily be up there 'taking one day at a time'!!!!
Half way through this project I visited 'Les Bourgs' and I was very touched by how wonderful and calming the whole place is, the volunteers work wonders and deserve all the support we can give them. With this in mind I kindly ask you to please please please forward this blog to as many people as you can.......one day it might be us.
Finally I have a couple of 'thank yous'. Firstly to Liz Stonebridge for letting me piggy-back her brainchild for the greater cause, secondly to my employer 'Providence' for being incredibly flexible with some of my lunch breaks, late starts, early knock off's e.t.c. and finally for my lovely other half Kelly, she has run the home single handed whilst working full time and at no point has she done anything other than support me & this project. So whilst I might be the bloke with the camera, I couldn't have achieved this without the wonderful people above.
Love James :-) xx
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