Whitby Workshop


Whitby is a seaside resort on the east coast of North Yorkshire at the mouth of the River Esk, which unusually, flows out into the North Sea in a northerly direction. This means that the town, which is built around the estuary faces north and has an east and west pier. The explorer, Captain James Cook learned his seamanship craft here before embarking on his epic voyages to discover Australia and New Zealand, amongst other places. Also it is reputed that Bram Stoker, the author of the Dracula novels also stayed in Whitby for a while.

I was here for an entirely different reason, to enjoy a 3 day photographic workshop with 4 other people and our guide Andy Page, of Image Seen Photography.

The weather forecast was not promising, with strong winds and rain predicted through-out the week. As it turned out, although we had the strong winds, the rain mainly stayed away and we only lost the last day to wet weather.

The photographs below are taken from each of the locations we visited and where we have travelled away from Whitby, I have written a small narrative about the place we visited.

Sandsend – Sandsend is a small fishing village about 2 miles north of Whitby. Its main features for us as photographers were the wide expanse of beach and the wooden groynes buried in the sand to help prevent erosion by the tides. There were views back to the piers at Whitby and the strong wind also whipped up significant spray from the wave tops.

Two treatments of the same image of the groynes at Sandsend: Top in colour, muted tones which reflected the day. Bottom, a mono conversion using Silver Efex Pro software and Kodak Tri-X 400 film simulation.

Intentional camera movement – slowly and horizontal on the tripod to create this blurred striped effect.

Mono and colour images of the sea spray looking from Sandsend towards Whitby.

Whitby – Our main focus here was to shoot the west pier of Whitby from the beach as the tide retreated. The stone pier has been augmented over the years with an iron structure which protrudes out into the North Sea. We also indulged in some creative photography by visiting the brightly coloured beach huts further round the bay.

Historical records suggest that a pier has been a part of Whitby since the reign of Henry VIII though the predecessor to this pier was not built until 17th Century. Both west and east pier were extended in the early 20th century and a lighthouse added to each. The bridge seen in the top image was added in 2018 after the previous link was closed after storm damage.

Two views of West Pier at Whitby shot from the beach. In the top image, I was taken by the reflections in the wet sand left by the receding tide. The bottom image is a longer view showing he original sea wall with the additional pier built on the end.
The West Pier extension in colour on a stormy morning.
The same image given the mono treatment. The variety of textures and tones along the pier gives ample opportunities for mono images.

The beach huts at Whitby are above the beach to the west of the pier complex and on a dull afternoon the brightly coloured wooden structures stand out like a beacon. Andy, our workshop leader encouraged us to try some more creative images, looking at details, angles and repeating patterns. Yes, it was a Landscape workshop, but who says we can’t try something different!

The Beach Huts at Whitby – seen at various angles.

Two more images of the Whitby beach huts

Saltwick Bay (pronounced Saltick Bay by the locals) lies about 2 miles to the east of Whitby and was formerly the site of an Alum quarry. There is small sandy area of the beach under the cliffs but the vast area is covered by grey/black flat rock with unusual patterns somehow cut in. Quarrying also led to the discovery of fossils and the beach area is a rich source of animal remains from the lower Jurassic period. The beach is also home to a particular rock named Black Nab which has been the cause of many a shipwreck over time.

Also on the beach and of interest to landscape photographers is the wreck of the Admiral von Tromp a trawler wrecked on the Nab in 1976. Mystery surrounds the sinking of this boat and all but two of the crew were rescued by the Whitby Lifeboat.

The “Beach” at Saltwick Bay.
Cliff face with another illustration of the rock formations
Wreck of the Admiral von Tromp.
The infamous Black Nab rock on Saltwick Bay. This image shoot at low tide. At High tide, much of this rock is covered

Saltburn – Saltburn is a seaside resort developed in the Victorian era following the development of the railways. It’s main landmark is an iron pier of around 460m in length which is serviced by a water powered cliff hoist or funicular railway. It is the only pier left in Yorkshire. We spent a lovely sunny morning around the deserted pier and beach.

Saltburn Pier
Saltburn Pier from the Cliff top railway

We were encouraged to look and shoot the unusual at the pier, hence these images!

Back at the cliff top I spotted this shadow pattern of the handrails around the flower beds. Again converted to Mono.

Staithes – Staithes is a seaside village about 20 minutes drive to the North East of Whitby and nestles in a natural harbour with high cliffs all around. Formerly one of the many fishing centres in England, Staithes is now largely a tourist destination although a small fleet of fishing boats still operate from the harbour.. The attraction for photgraphers is the view from an unofficial observation point set above the village into the path leading down to the centre. From here virtually the whole village is laid out in front of the viewer. The harbour area and narrow streets are also of interest to tourists and photographers alike.

One of the fishing boats still active in Staithes.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Great photography, Davyh ๐Ÿ‘ I’ve been enjoying your posts as I used to live in Richmond, North Yorkshire & you’ve featured a lot of my old stomping grounds ๐Ÿ˜ƒ


    1. davyh says:

      Thanks Jez. I always enjoy visiting North Yorkshire, a lovely part of the world.

      Liked by 1 person

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