A rather counter-intuitive benefit of having to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a small up-tick in photographic opportunities as we take the chances we have to get out for some fresh air with the kids.
While we’re obviously being careful about physical distancing, it’s also important to get some fresh air while we’re still allowed to and living by the coast provides plenty of nice open space to do so safely.
Over the past week or so, we’ve had a couple of trips to St Mary’s Lighthouse in Whitley Bay to see the seals and a drive up to Druridge Bay where we braved the bitter winds for about 25 minutes before giving up and heading home again.
St. Mary’s Lighthouse
The lighthouse on St Mary’s Island is a great family trip (when the tide is out!) and I’ve been there twice with the kids in the past 10 days. The first time, I had played down expectations with the family thinking the seals were only there in the autumn but I turned out to be totally wrong and there was a group on the rocks by the lighthouse.
On the first day, the concept of ‘social distancing’ was only just taking hold in the UK but thankfully the island wasn’t too busy anyway.
Our eldest, at 3, has found a real interest in taking photographs but we couldn’t find the little tough kids’ camera his grandad had bought him so I took a deep breath and let him use my Fuji X100F. He was very careful with it and took some lovely photos while having a great time.
I’ve been contemplating getting him an older, second-hand small Fuji body if his interest in photography picked up and if this carries on, I may well now do so. Something like an X-T20 with, say, a 27mm or 18mm pancake lens. We shall see!
For my own shooting, I’d decided to take the GFX 50S with the awesome GF 100-200mm F5.6 telephoto lens. I’ve been to the lighthouse with wide and normal lenses plenty but wanted to limit myself to longer focal lengths, which really paid off once we found there were seals to look at.
The main group of seals (apparently collective nouns for seals include ‘a bob’, which is excellent) were all lazing on rocks facing away from us though there was a lone seal round to the side of the lighthouse who showed some interest in what was going on. I took a few photos of this lone seal and helped support the huge GFX camera and lens while our eldest also took some, so the image below honestly could have been taken by either of us:
On our second outing, thinking more about seals this time, I took the X-T3 with XF100-400 for even more reach.
Unfortunately, the seals were further out and more hidden among the rocks this time so all I got of any value was this image of a postal delivery to the lighthouse:
Working from home
I actually enjoy working from home and am lucky to have a room set up as an office already. While at my computer a few nights ago, I looked out the window to see some lovely colour in the sky as our cat sat watching the world go by.
The GFX 50S with 100-200 was still sitting on the floor by my chair, so I grabbed it and took a few photos just to document the light.
On Saturday, having seen the local coastline filling up with rather too many people to think we could visit and still keep safe distances, I drove the kids up to Druridge Bay for a short walk thinking it’s usually empty.
Obviously the narrow road was full of parked cars.
The beach at Druridge Bay is huge though, so I decided to park anyway and steer clear of other people which worked fine in the end. This time I had the 50S with GF32-64 lens and, with the wind bitterly cold, we only managed a 25 minute loop over the dunes to the beach and back.
I got a couple of quick snaps that were decent. The second, with the old hut and little crop of broken concrete, is a composition I do quite like and think I’ll return to in future.
Over a few evenings, I managed to move SceneMapper on a bit and pushed out a new alpha version that now supports multiple plans for each scene. I’m so close to launching a proper beta now that I’ve even started working on an introductory blog post.
Here’s hoping I can keep up some momentum over the next few weeks!