Exploring with your camera

The Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB is a fantastic area for photography. It consists of many different landscapes and many beautiful locations away from the well known coastal resorts.

This is a quick guide to some of my favourite areas. More detailed information can be found in my book “Photographing the Suffolk Coast” which can be purchased from my website. 

Photographing the Coast

The Suffolk Coast stretches from the container port of Felixstowe in the South to the seaside resort of Lowestoft in the north. In its 47 mile length it is broken by 5 major estuaries; the Stour, Orwell, Deben, Alde and Ore complex and the river Blyth. Together the coast and rivers account for some of the most varied and interesting landscapes in the East of England. Habitats include salt marsh, mudflats, lagoons, reedbeds, shingle beaches and fragile sandy cliffs.

The Suffolk Coast is famed for its wide open skies and its east facing location is ideal for sunrise photography. Try Shingle Street, Felixstowe and Walberswick for sunrises, Ramsholt, Landguard Point and Bawdsey Quay for sunsets. Many of these locations work best at certain states of the tide so it is always worth checking the tide tables before making any visit to the coast.

The other useful reference is the Photographers Ephemeris which has free apps for your tablet and mobile phone. Use this to work out the position of the rising and setting sun in relation to features on the ground. It is a great tool for planning your sunrise or sunset shoots.

Suffolk’s rivers have a wealth of diverse habitats and there are some must visit locations if you want to capture the essence of these waterways. Visit Pin Mill on the River Orwell for its history, links to Thames Traditional barges and Arthur Ransome and its characterful river frontage. The River Deben is possibly my favourite river and has some lovely locations for photography. Woodbridge and Kyson point offer bustle and tranquility within a short distance and an easily accessible riverside path. The Rocks, just along the river from Ramsholt is a delightful place and the walk from Ramsholt Quay takes you through a variety of habitats. Iken on the River Alde is another good location with fantastic views along the estuary towards Iken Church. This location also works well at sunset. The River Blyth at Southwold and Walberswick offers the opportunity to capture a working harbour with all the bustle and colour that accompanies this. A little further upstream Blythburgh Church adds a lovely backdrop to a more peaceful part of the estuary.

Photographing the Heaths

Suffolk has some beautiful areas of Sandlings heathland which are good to photograph in all seasons but especially worth visiting in August and September. Good heathland locations include Upper Hollesley Common, Sutton Heath, Blaxhall Heath, Westleton and Dunwich Heaths.

Sutton Heath and Upper Hollesley Common represent one of the largest continuous areas of Sandlings heathland left in Suffolk. They are remnants of the heathland that once covered the Suffolk Coast from Ipswich to Dunwich. Both areas have an interesting mix of heather, bracken and silver birch glades and work especially well in late summer and autumn when the colours are at their best.

Westleton Heath is one of my favourite locations. It is a National Nature Reserve and is important for the flora and fauna it supports. It is a lovely habitat to explore and has some lovely wide open heath interspersed with silver birch trees. Visit early in the morning for sunrise and low lying mist which is great for adding atmosphere to your images.

Photographing the Woodlands

Suffolk has some diverse areas of woodland, the most well known of which are Rendlesham Forest, Tunstall Forest and Dunwich Forest. These are mainly coniferous plantations owned by Forestry England. Despite their initial uniformity the forests have evolved over the years and now offer a wealth of habitats which are worth exploring with the camera all year round.

If you are looking for more characterful areas of mixed woodland then my favourites are Captains Wood near Sudbourne and Staverton Thicks.

Captains Wood is a nature reserve owned by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust and offers a lot photographically. It has a small pond, some wonderful silver birch trees, some ancient oaks and a collection of coppiced hazels. In May it boasts one of the best displays of bluebells in Suffolk.

Staverton Thicks is a magical fairytale piece of woodland just outside Butley. It is full of 400 year old oaks and some of the tallest holly trees in Britain. It is a haphazard woodland with a real sense of wilderness.  It can be a difficult area to photograph but is definitely worth a visit.

Photographing the Suffolk Coast Guide Book

Filled with essential information and over 200 colour images the guide book describes how to approach photography in some of the most picturesque locations in Suffolk. There are details of local landmarks, natural features to look out for and local wildlife to discover. 

Covering 28 areas from the Stour Estuary to Covehithe and 50 separate locations this comprehensive book is the perfect guide to capturing the essence of the Suffolk Coast whether you are using a DSLR or a phone camera.

This guide has been funded by the Amenity and Accessibility Fund administered by Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB www.suffolkcoastandheaths.org

Photographing the Suffolk Coast is available to purchase from my website.

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The Suffolk Coast – 25 Walks with your camera

Discover the Suffolk Coast through a series of 25 guided walks with your camera. Change how you see the landscape and have fun with the photography scavenger hunt.

The walking book consists of 25 walks ranging in length from 2 to 7 miles and covering some of the most beautiful parts of the Suffolk Coast. Each walk comes with route directions, a map, route notes, local information and a photography scavenger hunt for each location. The walks can be undertaken with any camera from a phone camera to a DSLR and are all about observation and connecting with your surroundings.

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