Beneath High Tide
IN WHAT IS KNOWN AS Cornwalls forgotten corner, youll find the twin villages of Cawsand and Kingsand. Theyre on the Rame Peninsula, on the west side of Plymouth Sound.
Between Kingsand and Fort Picklecombe, along a rocky shoreline, is a Site of Scientific Special Interest (SSSI). The rocks there are hundreds of millions of years old, and the geology is of extreme importance.
Walking east along the rocks from Kingsand towards a small beach called Sandway reveals interesting geological features.
These include the longest stretch of Rhylite lava rocks, from the Permian Age. Holes in the rocks show where gas bubbles emerged during extreme volcanic activity.
At Sandway Beach there are many examples of beautifully coloured shingle, sands, mudstones, gritstones and areas of conglomerate that appear as lumps of concrete containing stones and pebbles fused together by extreme volcanic heat and pressure.
The best time to see all this is at low tide, which is when geologists and students come to study the rocks. This is one of my favourite areas for a walk to admire the natural features.
Beautiful as these rocks are, it struck me as a diver that they would look even better when varnished, and that meant taking a look beneath high tide with a camera.
There are no roads, so the three ways to reach this remote area are to walk from Kingsand, which takes 15-20 minutes; kayak from Kingsand/Cawsand (about 10 minutes); or else to go by boat.
Last July was hot and sunny, with the sea warmed to 18°C in the shallows - ideal for a snorkel dive.
I walked from Kingsand carrying basic gear and camera. It was about an hour before high tide, which would give me about two hours in the water. Maximum depth would be about 4m.
The sun danced off the sea and the vis looked fantastic.
I entered this other world, finned around and became mesmerised.
The suns rays danced and flickered over the rocks, producing an endless variety of shapes and colours. This was much better than at low tide when walking around the mostly dry rocks and beach - a fantastic light show.
I started to take photographs. Natural light was the order of the day - I had no strobes and used the sun at my back.
Being shallow and well-weighted, I could dive down and get into the right position for composition.
To freeze the suns rays required shutter speeds of between 160th and 250th, and apertures of between F11 and F22, which also helped with a bit of camera shake.
The ASA/ISO was at 400 or 800. I was using a Sony NEX5 in a Nauticam housing with a Nikonos adapter and 15mm lens. This camera also has Panoramic Sweep mode, and I experimented by taking several images.
I know where to go the next time I want to chill out and observe a natural spectacle. The rocks wont move - they will always be there. All thats needed is the sun.