behind the shot – dungeness fishing boat

Dungeness is a vast shingle headland located on the tip of Romney Marsh in Kent. The abandoned fishing boats and huts of Dungeness’ fishing past are popular subjects for photographers and I am no different. I have been visiting here for years, often coming in bad and changeable weather to utilise another of the locations best features; its huge skies!

On my more recent trips, I have been focussing on the small fleet of charter fishing boats that are still in use here. These well maintained, colourful boats are often in prime unobstructed positions on the very edge of the shingle heaps next to the coast.

dungeness fishing boat
The well-placed fishing rope added an important storytelling and compositional element to the shot of a Dungeness fishing boat at sunset.

I took this above shot in November 2018. It had been a clear, bitterly cold and windy day. As the day came to an end, I made my way to the fishing boats where I spotted potential in the incoming clouds to the south.

As I made my way there I kept stopping to take a shot as the light changed. These shots below show my attempts to make sense of the scene with these improving conditions.

dungeness, kent
The light was starting to turn. I tried a landscape shot here but I would continue on and hone in on my subject.
dungeness, kent
There was clear, unhampered views to this boat next to the drop to the sea. Before moving closer I tried a telephoto shot using the fantastic lines in the clouds behind.
dungeness, kent sunset
Trying to make the landscape version work again before settling on singling out this one boat in a portrait format.

By the time I made it up close to the boat I was buzzing as I found the fishing rope arranged in front. I hurriedly set up my tripod and positioned my camera as close to the fishing rope as I could as the stretch of cloud behind was turning pink. I would also need to get low so that the boat broke the horizon line and stood out from the shingle. Despite the chaotic nature of the rope I tried to see it as a diagonal shape, leading towards and balancing with the boat behind.

As it is often the last light which produces the best shots, was it worth getting frozen in the hours beforehand? I could have just popped down for the light at the end of the day, but I doubt I would have still got this shot. That time was well spent experiencing the location, getting a feel for it and sensing how the weather and light might work out before putting myself in the best position I could to be able to react to it.

I hope you enjoyed reading my ‘behind the shot’ at Dungeness.

Thanks 🙂

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