Rattray Head, Peterhead, Scotland by Richard Russell

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Picture Story

Over an hour to drive to reach a beach I had never been to before and perhaps would not find in time before the weather changed. Off in the car for an adventure with the kids. As I drove closer to my destination I noticed changing weather and wondered if this journey was going to be worth it. Found myself on a long and bumpy path heading towards the coast. Holes in the road big enough to swallow my car I thought maybe this is the wrong path. No one in right mind would take a car up this path . I arrive in a car park and I can smell the he sea but can’t see it for the biggest sand dunes I have seen in my life. We walk towards the coast rushing trying to beat the rain. It’s cold and windy and kids in no mood for standing watching me take pictures. I turn a corner and spot the beach. No signs of why I travelled here. I walk a bit further and there it is . Twenty metres of the coast. Rattray head lighthouse.

Must have taken some effort to build it in the middle of the sea. I could see so many opportunities to photograph. The sea, sand. Sand dunes and ahead of me bobbing in the water are three seals. Looking back at us wondering if I was friend or foe. I start snapping the seals wondering if they would vanish but they stay around watching us. Close enough to hear us. The journey was worth it even if it was just for this moment . I set up the tripod. The camera bag is open and the sand is blowing everywhere. This could be a disaster. Here comes drops of rain. This is not going well. I often take a small umbrella to protect my gear and decide it’s has to come out. I am fighting sand rain and kids who wanted to cover themselves in wet sand . I have one eye on camera and one eye on kids. Filter pouch comes out and if I balance umbrella handle in my chin and angle my head I can perhaps set up my filters without getting water and sand on them. I fancy a long exposure shot . Graduated filter for sky. Perhaps little stopper for long exposure . Trial and error today but is there enough time. Hanging my lens cloth over front of filters I try and fix my umbrella which is now inside out with the wind. I compose my shot. “Dad we are cold. Can we go home yet? “. It’s only been five mins but I am cold myself.

The North Sea is not as tropical as you might think. I take a few pictures. Suddenly I see an opportunity to get a reflection of the lighthouse on the beach. Will it work? I move the tripod. Do I want pebbles in shot? Do I want seaweed? Nice and clean is what I want . Manual settings . Happy and click. Yeah happy . Running out of time . Weather getting worse. Sand everywhere and kids getting wet. “Dad?” “Two more minutes. Dad is nearly finished. Snap, snap and snap. Right I could be here all day but have to be sensible . The heaven open and rain pours down. I grab the tripod with camera attached and we run. Yes I know should not walk with camera on tripod but this is an emergency as we run back to car. The seals vanish as we run from beach. Back in car we are soaked and covered in sand. My gear needs cleaned and dried. I have no idea if I got a picture I would be proud of or shall I put this down to scouting a new spot and an adventure. Finally home and quick to see images on computer. Yeah I like this picture . I don’t think it needs to be manipulated to an inch of its life. It was worth it and now keen to get back to this spot.

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