Sunrises and sunsets on the Isle that isn't an island
'The Isle of Thanet? But it's not an island', was my first thought upon hearing the name. Now a peninsula forming the easternmost part of Kent, it was indeed originally an island, separated by the 600 metre-wide Wantsum Channel. It is an area rich in history, being mentioned many times over the centuries, including Roman invasions and Visigoth rule. The Wantsum Channel allowed ships to sail between the mainland and the island in calm waters. Gradually this silted up, and the last ship sailed through the channel in 1672.
After another early start (they are getting easier as Autumn settles in), I made my way up to Ramsgate for sunrise. I arrived just as the blue hour before dawn started, and took advantage of the reflections of the lights to capture the atmosphere of the harbour from the East Pier. A short walk back to Ramsgate Beach gave me a good base to get the drone in the air for a few bird's eye view panoramic shots. Then back to the car to plan the Broadstairs and Margate shots.
Ramsgate Harbour before Dawn
An Aerial View of Ramsgate Harbour
A stop in Broadstairs, known as the 'Jewel in Thanet's Crown', did not disappoint. A walk along the cliff-tops to Louisa Bay, then down to the beach at Viking Bay, past the paddling pool which gets completely submerged at high tide. The first images I had taken were when the tide was in, so I was shocked to see the pool and the reefs at low tide, stretched out like fingers into the sea.
An Aerial View of Broadstairs, Mk.1
Viking Bay, Broadstairs Mk.1
Finally onto Margate for a late afternoon shoot. There was a very good reason the artist JMW Turner kept returning to Margate, the sunsets are phenomenal. Well, that and his landlady...
The tide was out, and Margate Beach's tidal pool was the perfect focal point to start with, looking quite unreal situated on the beach. The drone did a great job of capturing a panorama of this scene. A short wait (pizza break) for the sun to drop below the cloud cover resulted in a spectacular sunset, the light reflecting in the windows of the Old Town, before casting an orange glow on the horizon and the sea. Back to the car for the trip home, and more planning for future shoots.
An Aerial View of Margate, Mk.1
Margate Harbour at Sunset
Sunset over Margate and Reculver
Margate Harbour at Dusk
Sunset over Margate
In my Camera Bag
A rummage through my equipment
Samphire Hoe Mk.1
'You take that with a helicopter?', is a question I regularly get asked at events. Much as I'm tempted to tell the questioner I have a fleet of helicopters on standby, I admit the image was taken with a drone. This is usually followed by looks of wonder, or a snort of disgust, depending on the questioner. Drones have had a bit of a bad rap over the past few years, especially after the two day shutdown of Gatwick Airport in 2018. Flown responsibly, with an understanding and adherence to UK drone laws, they open up an entirely new form of photography.
I've used a drone for about four years now, although I was very sceptical at first as to their use in photography. It was only after buying a used DJI Mavic Pro that I really saw the potential, my first flight was a real eye opener as to what could be done. After much experimentation, I upgraded to the DJI Phantom 4 Pro, which was a huge step up in the optics of the camera system. I found I was now getting images I could print at much larger sizes, creating statement pieces that really have the wow factor. For the past year, I've been working on large panoramas of our local coastline. Often made up of 36 images which are then stitched together, they give a 180 degree view of the area in great detail. Do take a look at the Panorama section of my website here for examples of my coastal panoramas.
One of the issues I found I had with the Phantom 4 was the sheer size of the drone. It required a dedicated backpack to carry it along with its controller. I regularly found myself carrying two backpacks, one with the drone, the other with my cameras, along with a tripod or two balanced on top. I felt like a pack donkey, and often cursed at having to take so much equipment, especially over rugged coastal terrain. This led me to consider a smaller drone, but I was not prepared to lose image quality. Enter the DJI Mini 3 Pro, which I now use. It sits on the palm of my hand when folded, but has the high resolution camera system I've gotten used to. I can now carry the drone, its controller, and spare batteries in a small bag slung over my shoulder. I can now actually see where I'm walking without peering over a tripod. The smaller size and weight of the Mini 3 also now allows me to legally fly in more locations, opening up new areas for me to explore.
Aerial photography is certainly not new, it's been around for many decades, but the technology has improved to a degree where aeroplanes and helicopters are no longer needed to produce high quality photos and video. Offering a unique perspective on our world, in a safe, cost-effective manner, drones are here to stay, and I for one, am looking forward to working with them for years to come.
For more examples of my aerial work, please see my Aerial Art gallery on my website.
An Aerial View of Reculver
The Coastline of Kent Calendar has landed and quite a few have already gone to their new homes. In fact, about a third sold in the first week, so order sooner rather than later due to limited numbers.
We said goodbye to the Folkestone Harbour Arm Market at the end of the trading season on the last Sunday of September, and are looking forward to being there again next year. We will have a pop-up shop on the Old High Street from the 23rd November to the 6th December, so do come and say hello.
Looking forward to seeing some of you in Betteshanger at the end of October.
We are having a little breather before the Christmas Market season starts, giving us the opportunity to travel up to the North Norfolk coast. We had visited the Sheringham and Cromer area last year and are very much looking forward to seeing it and the surrounding areas again.
After that, we head to territories unknown to both of us, the town of Whitby on the North Yorkshire coast. Dracula, Whitby Abbey, Captain Cook and steep steps are all things that spring to mind. Will need to do a bit of research beforehand to see what I want to capture with the camera. I'll be regularly updating my Facebook and Instagram feeds with images as we go along, so do give me a follow on either to see our progress.