The windfarm in principle is a bit of a contraversial topic. Some people love them, others think that they are a blight on the sea view. Global warming and the energy crisis aside, I quite like them. I think that they have a simple quality about them, and whenever I see them - I appreciate them - aesthetically. There are already two of them in Shoreham Harbour, and I don't go out of my way to photograph them. Two situated in the 'rustic' part of the harbour doesn't quite make the scene for me, and until now I haven't specifically gone out to shoot the turbines.
In the summer of 2016 I went to Norfolk to shoot some landscapes. Caiston-On-Sea specifically. I visited to photograph the zig-zag sea groynes, and I photoshopped the wind farm out. Shocking, I know. But they were a distraction. As a standard rule, I will remove a ship, buoy, turbine, surfer - anything that detracts away from the main subject; it is nothing
against wind farms - I promise.
Where was I?
Anyway, Rampion Windfarm. You can see it from Shoreham By sea where I live, from Brighton where I work, and all of the surrounding towns on the south coast. It is an optical illusion as sometimes you will be at a vantage point in Brighton and think 'that wind farm looks a lot closer than I thought?'. Well it is actually 8 miles out to see, as I found out, and 8 miles wide!
Until this point, the windfarm had been a discussion point, something in the background of some people's photos - sometimes the main subject. Silhouettes of a far away windfarm
against a hazy sky. But I heard that there was now the opportunity to visit it up close. Sign me up!I booked and prepped, I told some photography friends - and they were all intrigued
by the idea of getting closer to them.
The first date was cancelled, due to rough weather, and although this could lead to some incredible photographs - I would rather make it back. I rebooked, and secured my place the
following weekend. Typically I concentrate on the photography, but I wanted to create a video to share the experience - as much as get some images to take home. The tour was 2-4pm, so it wasn't golden hour in October, but I made the call and took one camera and one lens to do the filming and photography. This was my Canon 80D and Canon 18-135mm IS STM. Lots of numbers and letters, but the reason I chose this lens was the stabilisation for the sketchy footage, and silent focusing for the video - and not to mention the quite generous zoom range! This was a compromise on both accounts, but worked out just fine.
We took off from Brighton Marina, and with a quick 'hold on' from Paul the captain gave it some beans. Another optical illusion revealed itself. We travelled for half an hour, towards
the wind farm, yet it didn't get any closer. It didn't feel like we were getting anywhere until the last ten minutes, then the distant silhouettes revealed yellow uprights, serial numbers, people, even the seagulls gave up tracking us as we ventured too far from shore.
Once you are in 'the farm' everything is so massive - you question whether they are actually big. But each turbine is 150m from the water surface to the top of the blade. That is half the height of the London Shard, but there are 116 of them! Inevitably you can get bored of seeing the turbines, as they are a bit samey, so we move on to the 'turbine factory.' It isn't a factory at all, but I was too busy making a video and taking photos to listen to all of the facts being dished out on the tour. I like what I saw though.
The journey back was a bit easier on the sea spray, as the winds typically come from the south-west. But rather than just head back to the marina, we got a close up tour of my
all time favourite tourist destinations on Brighton Seafront. It is safe to say that I have never seen the West Pier from the sea's perspective, nor the i360 or the Palace Pier. I wouldn't go as far as saying that they are photogenic from these angles either, as the city behind them is a bit 'busy'. However with the right light and conditions, it could make for an award winning image.
The photos came out better than I though they would, considering how rocky the jounrey was at points and how much spray was on the front of my lens. But will a little bit of photoshop love, and the images were ready to go live.
I have uploaded my photos and shared my video on youtube & Facebook. The company that run the tours appreciated the publicity that I created, and have offered me a complimentary
tour again. No sponsorship was involved, just an honest review of a great service. The youtube video is linked below.
Till 2018, when I revist and the turbined are spinning :-)