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Location – Hartland Quay, Devon

 (Doug King BA1 6BP UK  +44 (0)7976 602025)

A quick trip to visit family in North Devon last weekend had me checking sunset angles and tide times and I quickly realised that there was going to be a sunset over high tide. I thought that this might provide an opportunity to get some shots of the incredible rock formations at Hartland.

Hartland Point forms the western end of Bideford Bay and tops the Culm Coast, one of the most dramatic coastlines in the UK. The directly west facing cliffs and shoreline are formed of fantastically folded and buckled sandstones some 270 million years old. This is a perfect location for straight out to sea sunsets with extraordinary foreground rocks.

In the end the spring tide was much higher than I anticipated and it turned out to be quite stormy, denying me any of the images that I had imagined. I did, however, manage to soak both myself and the camera. Thank goodness for robust weather sealing, I won’t be doing that again in a hurry.

Hartland Quay makes a great access point for this part of the coast with parking right on the cliffs, although you may need to pay during holiday season. The bar of the Hartland Quay Hotel also allows a welcome dry-off after a stormy night such as I experienced.

Gear Review – Grubs Boots Stalker 5.0

Most photographers write blogs to keep their web sites fresh and in order to have something to talk about, gear reviews seem to be very popular topics. I am no different in trying to draw people to my site, however, whilst it is clearly sexy to cover the latest tech and gadgets, I think that there are lots of aspects of the pursuit of photography that don’t get enough coverage. This then is a review of one of my best recent photographic gear purchases – Wellington boots!

For many years I had shied away from Wellies, thanks to unhappy experiences with cheap rubber death traps, preferring to rely on my extensive collection of mountain and hiking boots. However, after one afternoon of wet cold feet trying to get close to a woodland waterfall, I decided that things had to change. After much searching and online research I settled on a pair of Stalker 5.0 Wellies by Grubs Boots.

These boots have transformed my photography allowing me to get shots like this one, which would not have been achievable without the correct equipment.

I have always loved the play of light over the lakes in Snowdonia and the passing of storm Freya in the night afforded near perfect dawn conditions to capture the Lone Tree of Lake Padarn with the sun rising in the notch of the Llanberis Pass. The breathless air and crystal clear water added another dimension to the image with the clear view of the slate slag lake bed blending into the reflection of the clouds. (Doug King)

My top criteria is that any pair of boots should have a good grip and the genuine Vibram soles on the Stalkers, coupled with a flexible neoprene calf section, provide immense confidence on the slipperiest of slopes and are comfortable for extended wear. The neoprene and further special insulation together with a wicking inner lining also mean that these boots are really warm in adverse conditions but not sweaty. Unfortunately these boots only come in green and I am not a fan of green boots, but given the advantages of the Stalkers, I must admit that I am chuffed to bits with my purchase.

So back to the shot:

It was dawn the morning after storm Freya had blown her way across the UK at the beginning of March. The water level in Lake Padarn was unusually high, and the lone tree that usually stands on a little promontory of slate trash was actually many metres offshore. As you can see the light and reflections were superb and rapidly changing with the fast moving clouds. For the composition I wanted, I needed to get my tripod several meters offshore. My new boots allowed me not only to position my tripod but also to stand in the freezing water for around 40 minutes watching the light change from my selected viewpoint. Sometimes it is important to just enjoy nature’s wonders. 

I could of course have turned on the wifi on my camera and made shots from the shore via my phone, but I find such tech intrusive and often takes me out of the moment. In the Stalkers, my feet were so comfortable and warm that I completely forgot that I was standing in a lake and on one occasion, squatted to check composition through the viewfinder and stuck my bum in the water for a nasty shock!

The Stalkers have proved invaluable since and have allowed me to get numerous shots that shore-bound photographers have been unable to match.