The Rise and Fall of a trip to Devon and Cornwall

Starting in Hexworthy, I made my way through Devon and into Cornwall beginning with that Tin Mine at St Agnes.
Fergal Sharkey once sang that a “Good Sunrise is Hard to Find”. Well, I quite agree with the former lead singer of the Undertones. Therefore, it was my good fortune that prior to embarking for breakfast and St Agnes, I took a punt on the weather (it didn’t look good from the window when I got up), hopped in the car, and made my way up the hill towards and then a little beyond Dartmeet, where I found myself a well placed car park, some foreground interest and a rather fine view over Sharp Tor and Mel Tor. What was even better was that, whilst I had a slight moment de senior before the sun rose (best not go into it or I’ll look like a right wally!), the sun was coming up at a perfect angle in relation to the landscape in front of me.

The main difficulty with the shot I eventually got was trying to keep the sun in check. I used all the equipment I had, in particular, my Lee ND Grads, but they do nothing to stop a full sun burning a hole in your highlights warning. So, I adopted a bit of help from the clouds and a 3 shot HDR to craft my final image. I took a handful of different shots that morning, some non-HDR but the picture I was most happy with this is here, and, personally speaking I was and am well happy with it.

Having got the shot, I took a trip back to the Forest Inn for a massive money saving fry up before packing my bags and heading to the land of the pasty.

Every man and his dog has probably at one time or another thought about taking a shot of the tin mine at St. Agnes/ Chapelporth (Towanroath to be precise), and me and my dog were two of those very people (well one of those very people, I don’t have a dog).

It was probably the front cover of the BBC Coast book that first got me interested in the image, but like so many things, once you see the image once, you end up seeing it so many more times and therefore the question becomes have Tin Mines become all a bit 2007. As I had done my sunrise work in Dartmoor, I had not got to St Agnes until around midday. To my surprise and immense disappointment (photographically speaking), this was the warmest day in October since my records began. Whilst this was good for my t-shirt collection, it meant that getting a good shot of the wheel house was going to be tricky even with the Big Stopper. It also certainly meant I would be restricted to a relatively predictable shot unless I could manoeuvre a good angle or some clever composition or other.

I started my snapping from the hill opposite the wheel house. Whilst this provided a lovely view to the naked eye, it didn’t really offer much for the naked camera. Therefore, whilst I was relatively pleased with a couple of the shots, I felt that I may be able to get something more attractive if I swapped hills and got closer to the wheelhouse itself, particularly as my preferred lens is my 17-40L. After slogging up the hill, I found myself trying not to fall down it as it was quite slippery. Once at the bottom, it was time to climb again, but my decision to move was worth it. As I say, whilst the weather was not really with me (as in it was a nice hot sunny day), I felt that being closer gave me more compositional possibilities as well as a good view down to the beach (I tended to use my Canon 6D with 17-40 Lens for the wheelhouse and my 600D and a 100-300 Canon Lens for the remainder). The beach itself for those of you who either like surfing or who like photographing surfers was rife with opportunity. Sadly, it aint really my bag.

Turning to face the wheelhouse then climb high above it, I ended up taking a few shots from a variety of angles, used my Big Stopper to full effect and left feeling I should return in Spring with the plants beginning to flower and, hopefully, more wind and atmosphere in the sky. All in all I was pleased with what I had achieved, but I didn’t get that pang of excitement places like Godrevy would give me when I got there the following day.

Whilst I had lots planned, I already felt pretty shattered (bloody sunrises) by the time I got back to the car for my onward journey to the Bedruthan Steps, which you can read all about if you want to in my “recent photo trips” section...
Towanroath engine house, Wheal Coates