Thursday, 7 September 2017

Isles of Scilly Landscape Photography

Sunset from St Mary's across to Samson
Sunset from St Mary's across to Samson

I'm fortunate to have just spent a week on the Isles of Scilly with extended family. The Scillies is an archipelago of islands located 28 miles South West off the tip of Cornwall. Five of the islands are inhabited with countless smaller ones dotted amongst the azure sea. St Mary's the largest was my base for the week, staying in the main port of Hugh Town.

Getting to the Isles of Scilly involves either a 2 hours 45 mins ferry crossing from Penzance or a flight from the mainland in small 9 or 16 seater planes. Flights from Lands End take about 15 minutes or an hour from Exeter. This time round we flew from Exeter, an excellent service both ways despite an aborted take off halfway down the runway on our return due to a seagull encounter.

Being based on St Mary's means you can easily explore all the other islands. A flotilla of small boats make the short trips back and forth to the various "off islands" during the course of the day.

Boat times Isles of Scilly
Boat times Isles of Scilly

St Martins
St Martins

As the week progressed I was able to visit Tresco, Bryher, St Martins & St Agnes. The remainder of my time was spent exploring St Mary's either on foot or catching the community bus. The bus had been upgraded since my last visit, the old rope to close the door had been replaced by a door that now closes automatically. Fares are somewhat arbitrary and calculated on the fly depending on how many stops you want to take, but it's not an exact science. Steve the bus driver has a dislike of small change, you have been warned.

Pot and boat Bryher
Pot and boat Bryher

The weather on the whole was very good, one wet day in a week is good going. Weather on the Scillies changes quite rapidly which is generally a good thing when it comes to photography.

The one drawback with the island day trips is that you only get to visit the other islands during the middle of the day. Missing out on early morning or late evening light can be a little frustrating meaning you need to make the most of daytime photographic opportunities. For sunrises and sunsets I was confined to walking distance from Hugh Town on St Mary's.


Hugh Town harbour sunset
Hugh Town harbour sunset

Sunrises were a little disappointing and I only managed to catch the tail end of  one in a far from ideal location. However, I did mange to enjoy two sunsets. One looking across the harbour (at high tide) which was OK, but didn't amount to much and a second spectacular one from Rat Island (just the other side of Hugh Town harbour wall). The sun just sank down below some thick clouds with no colour at all. Then after 20 minutes the light started turning straw yellow followed by spectacular colours in the clouds a full 30 minutes after sun had slipped below the horizon. It doesn't happen very often, but I can remember a similar sunset on the Lizard in Cornwall. A mediocre sunset followed by amazing colours 30 minutes later. It's often worth waiting around you just never know.

Rat Island sunset
Rat Island sunset

The pace of life on Scilly is very relaxed and despite visiting in the middle of the summer holidays there were still many beaches just a short walk away which were virtually deserted.

Great Bay St Martins
Great Bay St Martins

There are many talented artists and some lovely galleries displaying their work dotted around the islands. I was struck that there seems to be a distinct lack of photographic art work on sale, perhaps there is a niche in the market!


Resources:

Isles of Scilly Flickr album - including location info of all shots