The Exe estuary at dusk

I’d thought about taking this trip to the Exe estuary for a while. In my head I’d arrive at the estuary about 45 minutes before sunrise and shoot until the light flattened out, probably about 2 hours later. Like many of my best ideas somethings just don’t go to plan. Getting out of a warm bed at 3.00am was just too difficult.So the only thing to do was to re calibrate, in this case an early morning shoot turned into a late afternoon/early evening session.

The Exe Estuary
Exe Estuary Evening light Ship at anchor
Evening light from the west

Have a plan before you arrive but don’t be afraid to change it.

I had a reasonable idea of the geography and layout of the area as I’d spent a year in Exmouth at teacher training college during the late 70’s. I remembered the quality of the light and how fantastic it was especially in those early and evening hours. As you get nearer to the mouth of the estuary the sky seems to open up. It has a real and unique quality.

At the mouth of the Exe estuary
river Exe. Exe estuary. Exe bouy Mouth of the estuary
Towards Dawlish Warren

There’s lot’s  of very special locations along the estuary and each of these change depending on high and low water tide times as well as time of day. One of my favourite locations has to be where the river finally meets the sea. The currents are often fast, sweeping swiftly past sand banks that rapidly disappear at high tide.

The Exe at Low tide
The exe estuary evening light sailing boat on the exe
The Exe at Low tide

At low tide the whole estuary takes on the shape of a shallow basin punctuated by deep puddles, stranded sailing boats, bouys, ropes and small dinghies. It’s possible to walk out into the middle of all of this but take care if you do as its easy to get into danger. From the Exmouth side of the estuary you can clearly see Starcross and beyond as the coastline disappears towards Teingmouth and later on Torquay and the Torbay riviera.

Exexestuary, contre jour
Into the light

I was here in late winter and at that time of year the light fades very quickly, literally minutes between reasonable light and complete darkness. Even though this can be a tricky time to photograph its always worth ‘firing’ a few frames off. As the light begins to fade the evening sky’s colour seems to saturate into some very rich and deep colours.

Evening Light
Exe estuary evening blue light
Last shot of the day

To see more images visit the gallery by clicking here.

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