I suppose you’ve probably already figured out that I’m a photographer and that I’ve got a bit of a thing for taking pictures of the skies and the sea …
…and perhaps, from the website name alone, that I’m just a teensy weensy bit of a weather junkie who lives in Mundesley. That’s all true, but if you’re interested in a little more detail, here’s how it came about.
I’ve been taking pictures of things for about 30 years. I started out as a kid with a really basic film camera and just got deeper into it, eventually turning a corner of a spare room into a darkroom (thank you Mum & Dad!). I really didn’t have a specific interest in photographing a particular subject, I just loved the whole process and was happy snapping away at anything that caught my eye.
A few years later and still photographing everything and anything, but I’d specialised a bit too and the night sky captured my attention for a few years. Working mainly through telescopes using specialised scientific cameras, I spent quite a bit of time building on techniques and equipment. I had some good images come out of it all, I even had an exhibition or two at a university, but in many ways the focus on all the kit and the long exposure times took away something of what it was that I loved about photography – spontaneity and freedom of expression.
Astrophotographers are always up against the weather, there’s no photographing the rings of Saturn or the Andromeda galaxy through a thick covering of cloud. Worst still, having set-up all that gear in a garden, or a remote field, the sudden onset of a rainstorm can cause quite a lot of panic as expensive cameras and electronics are treated to an early bath. This is why imagers of the night sky pay so much attention to the weather, and that is why I started to as well – I bought a cheap weather station and started to keep the data.
Despite their capacity for destroying a good night’s astrophotography, I’ve always loved clouds. While my fellow imagers were cursing them, I gradually shifted my attention towards them rather than what they were hiding. Deep space objects many light years away from us are interesting, but so far removed from our experiences of daily life that very few people actually know what they are looking at. When it comes to the weather though, well, we all know plenty about that – we’ve all been caught in the rain, hidden from thunder and seen a beautiful sky that’s left us reaching for the camera on our phone. It’s because the weather is such an important part of our lives, and its affect on our behaviours and emotions, that I became more interested in making images of the sky that conveyed and amplified some of the feelings that would be familiar to me and the people who might want to look at them. As this idea developed my enjoyment of photography started to grow and the telescopes, long lenses, star trackers and other specialist kit were replaced with standard photographic gear and a raincoat (and to be completely fair to the English weather, sometimes sunglasses…you can bet I’d never had to wear those to photograph galaxies).
In December 2009, amidst a persistent northerly gale and a snow storm we moved (mostly slid & were half blown) into our new home in Mundesley. That was just a couple of days before Christmas and whilst there was a lot of unpacking to do, not to mention decorating, only the kettle was installed before we were down on the beach. Before that, I’d never been on a beach in the winter.