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UK~Travelogue--St. Ives by John Hill
Submitted By: karenc Date: January 29, 2010, 1:16 PM Views: 607

Travelog~St Ives, January 2007
by John Hill

Well we've been back from holiday a few weeks now and the memories are starting to fade.
It was an interesting trip, so I thought I'd tell you about it

Our 4th January trip to St.Ives Cornwall.  This year we would be sharing our holiday cottage with my in-laws who had not visited the area before.

Taking a holiday in January has its advantages and disadvantages, on the pro side there are very few people about, the weather can be cold and clear and the angle of the sun is low all day providing warm directional lighting. The disadvantages are that the weather can be very changeable, the dayís are short and many attractions will be closed.

So we set off on Saturday 13th January and after a long drive we arrived in St.Ives. The first thing I noticed was that one of the harbour-front restaurants was covered in scaffolding, plastic sheets and corrugated steel sheeting Ė a complete eyesore and a nightmare for harbour pictures.

we wake late due to the long drive the day before and take a drive down the coast road from St Ives. A quick stop at Geevor mine is followed by a wander round the old mine workings at Botallack. The Crown mines with the engine buildings standing right on the cliff above the atlantic, a stunning view. We take pictures of the mine works, arsenic calciners, and the flowering gorse. From Botallack we drive to the small beach of Porth Nanven, subject of the book Ďend of the landí The beach is covered in granite boulders and rounded granite stacks, but the tide is in so weíll have to return another day for further exploration of the beach.

We drove to the area between Gwithian and Godrevy head.  Godrevy lighthouse sits on an island just off the headland. With the waves crashing in and the lighthouse strongly lit by the sun it makes a nice image. With much white water in the scene I make a spot meter reading from a grey rock and make a number of exposures. While Iím taking pictures of the lighthouse the rest of the party walk over the headland and are lucky enough to see seals on the beach below. In the afternoon we go to Paradise Park, a small zoo with  a collection of birds, otters and other small animals. We were told that the asian otters had a litter of 5 last year, 2 of which had white colouring.  I shoot a roll of Provia 400f with images of the asian otters, American otters, penguins and owls.

A day around St Ives I head to the harbour. I set up in the sand a few meters from the incoming tide, the sand is wet so I open up the all weather cover from the Nature Trekker and lay the bag on the cover face up with the bag open. I take a few shots of the harbour. The tide gets closer, suddenly the tide has reached the tripod, oh no, the tide keeps going and my nature trekker end up floating on its AW cover. I leave the tripod and rescue the bag carrying it to dry land, no water in the bag by the look of it. I have to get my feet wet to rescue the tripod. I pack up and head for home to dry off. Iíve been very lucky, the back pad of the bag is wet but no water has entered the equipment compartment. I empty the bag and leave it by the fire to dry. I pack some kit in the day pack and head off out again. I walked to the cemetery on the side of the hill overlooking Porthmeor beach. I wander around and have an idea for an image, 2 celtic crosses in the foreground, the small church in middle distance and the St.Ives Island in the distance. I take some shots and play with aperture/DOF but somehow the shutter speeds seem too high. I check settings and find the ISO incorrectly set at 400, Iím shooting 100 speed film. Disaster. I go back to the cottage and check the custom functions on the EOS 3, and find the auto ISO setting OFF. Possibly the few rolls of 100 speed film Iíve already taken on this holiday will be incorrectly exposed by 2 stops. I check the second eos 3 used for B&W and itís also got auto-ISO set off, but luckily the manually set ISO speed is OK.
Moral of the story is to always check kit and settings before a trip. Iím now hoping that the manual exposure reading from yesterdays images of Godrevy are OK.

We take a trip to the National Seal Sanctuary in Greek near Helston.  There are many seal pups recently rescued along with a number of full time residents that are unfit for release back into the wild. I shoot a roll each of colour and black and white focussing mainly on the younger common seals. At the end of feeding time a heron lands near by looking for any spare macrel. Unfortunately Iíve already run out of film in my small daypack.  We leave the seal sanctuary and head for Porthlevan, one of the very few westerly facing harbours in the south-east. The harbour is made up of inner and outer harbour. The small opening between the two sections of the harbour was boarded up to prevent swell from the open sea entering the inner harbour. Waves are crashing over the pier at the end of the outer harbour, I shoot some black and white of the crashing waves.
We finish off the day with fish and chips in Mousehole. Perfect.

Another day spent wandering around St.Ives. I spend the morning in the Barbara Hepworth sculpture garden. A wonderfully laid out garden littered with stunning works of art. The light changes from bright overcast to dappled sunlight. I play with aperture settings and DOF, longer lenses compressing the perspective. I look for juxtaposition of work of art and extraordinary plants such as palm trees, ferns and cacti. I shoot colour slide, black and white (traditional and C-41). A thoroughly enjoyable time. Well recommended for any visitors to St. Ives. I head off to the cemetery again to try and get some shots after the previous efforts on Tuesday were probably ruined by the ISO setting issue. I spend the rest of the day shopping for a birthday present for my fiancťeís birthday tomorrow.

We head back to Porth Nanven for low tide. Getting to the headlands and  granite outcrops is made tricky by the slippery rocks. I walk along next to a small stream that runs into the sea, the stream and tide have eroded the granite bedrock to form strange shapes. I spend some time shooting the granite shapes and small stream.
We than travel to Porthcurno and take a look around the cliff top Minack Theatre. The light is low and diffused by mist coming in from the Atlantic. I visited this place many times when I was based at the Porthcurno telecommunications college. I shoot images of the inscriptions on the stone terraces and images of the stage area with the sea and Logan Rock beyond. After a rewarding tea and cake (the Minack cafť has delicious home made cakes), we head of to try and find Lanyon Quoit. After a few wrong turns we find the small parking lay-by and take the short walk to the quoit. A simple 3 stone structure. The light is low due to the mist so I shoot B+W Ilford XP2, but I increase the ISO from the standard 400 to 640 to add a bit of noise and mood.
In the early evening back in St Ives I walk along the harbour wall. The water level is extra high due to the spring tide. I shoot images of the boats bobbing in the water with the town beyond lit by streetlights. Thereís drizzle in the air so I only take a few shots. Walking back to the cottage I take a similar image but with boats tied up to the harbour wall with the town beyond. That night we go out for Anne-Marieís birthday dinner.

After a hearty breakfast we head off back to London. We decide to stop off at Stonehenge. At first itís cold with rain in the air, but as we walk round the great stones the rain starts to clear and the sun comes out, weíre treated to a rainbow right behind the stones. I act quickly and move twenty yards to the right to compose the image, other photographers are dashing around to get the rainbow in shot.
A fitting end to the week.

Thanks for reading

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