Jon Godfrey's Photos Jon Godfrey's Photos

That shot of Durdle Door

There are some shots which a photographer just can’t resist trying to “bag”.  These are not original and in fact might be an out and out copy,  however, this isn’t really the point.

The point is, they are great shots and the challenge is to capture them, in your own style, as best you can, in the conditions which are there at the time.  It’s almost irrelevant how good they are – technically or artistically. The experience of the capture is reward enough.  This is the case with me and this shot of Durdle Door.

For about 10 days a year, towards the end of December, the sun rises right in the middle of Durdle Door… if you stand in the right place along the beach.  Firstly; it’s December which means it’s cold and probably cloudy – so your options are limited.  You then have the issue of the tide.  Sunrise is about 8am and it’s a two hour drive for me but you also can’t get in to the CarPark until sunrise so there’s a 30 minute walk… in the dark.  So I’ve only even made it twice down to Durdle Door.  Only two chances to do the shot justice and one could say the first was just learning the location.

Before I share the story behind this image, I’m much happier with this version than my first attempt.  Shooting right in to the sun like this is stretching the abilities of the camera and the lens.  I wanted to anticipate the sea coming in to give me the surf reflections and to provide some movement.  I used a four stop ND filter to keep the movement in the waves BUT that has caused some issues with the artefacts around the lens-flare.  That’s perhaps a mistake.  I shot this at f16 to achieve the flare and this is a single image with no blending or stacking.  I tried both techniques but prefer this one.  The glow behind the Door is a nice affect I think.

I saw the weather forecast only the night before this shot and decided I would regret not going.  Last year I missed perfect conditions and I hate the thought of travelling four hours, walking for another and that’s before the time taken to shoot.  One of the sad influences of the iPhone generation is people don’t appreciate what goes in to creating an image.  When you add the time processing a single image is a day’s work.  I’m not complaining.  It’s a wonderful escape to do this thing.

I left the house and just before 5am and drove down.  I got there at quarter to seven and parked outside of the tourist centre as the car park doesn’t open until sunrise – not much good!  They have 24 hour security so you might get clamped.  The walk down is not great in the dark as it’s quite steep and muddy.  The tide was right in on this shoot which gave me the idea of the surf reflections.

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