Coastlines and cream teas

Cornish cream tea

Cream tea at Lizard Point, Cornwall, England.

Cornwall is one of those places I think I’ll never explore in full. I’m a frequent visitor, attracted to those wild coastlines, stormy skies and – let’s be honest – cream teas. So I was pleased to have a chance to visit a spot I’d not explored before, as part of my current personal photography project. I’m visiting the four extreme cardinal points of the UK, and the southernmost is Lizard Point.

I arrived at my camping spot (the marvellously indie Henry’s Campsite) late on a clear night and set up beneath sparkling skies. Night sky photography is a rare treat for a Londoner, but the basics are straightforward. The challenge is finding a worthy foreground subject. I hope my choice of the Lizard Lighthouse vindicates a windswept couple of hours in the teeth of a Cornish gale.

Lizard Point, Cornwall, England.

Lizard Lighthouse at night

The whole of the Cornish coast is so pocked with tiny coves and pristine beaches, time is as much a constraint as weather. When travelling alone, though, the relative abundance of time makes space for long exposure photography. Although attracted to the Zen-like experience of long exposures on film – see my post for Emulsive – I decided to rely more on digital work this time. The key reason: PAN-F+ is a slow film at the best of times, and some of my metered shots came out at nearly 10 minutes on film, taking reciprocity failure into account. That, sadly, would leave less time for cream teas.

Bolijack, Cornwall


I did attempt a couple of long exposures on PAN-F+ but nothing came out. I’m a meticulous note-taker when shooting landscapes on film – there’s no other way to be sure of repeating success or learning from mistakes. The record shows exposures at 8’50” and 3’14”, so I’m not too sure why nothing came through. If you’re a fellow film shooter, perhaps you can offer some advice?

Apart from those missing frames my initial scans are revealing some good work. None of this matters, though, until I’m making prints in the darkroom. As much as the windswept hours under turbulent skies, those hours under the safelight are critical for my project’s success.

The next stage of my project takes me to Scotland – first to the Ardnamurchan Peninsula, then to Dunnet Head in the far north. I hope the weather is as forgiving as it was in Cornwall.

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