Sand, Cliffs and Islands

Photography on the South Devon coast

Photography on the beautiful

south coast of Devon

For Sand, Cliffs and Islands photography would you like to:

  • Explore and photograph one of the most beautiful locations on Devon’s south coast?
  • Photograph the stunning and intricate patterns in wet rippled sand, and the play of sunlight bouncing off it?
  • Wander along and photograph the stunning cliffs of Burgh Island, and the wonderful views up the estuary of the River Avon?
  • Photograph the sunset over Burgh Island and the south Devon coast, seen from the beach at Bantham?

What the locations and photography consist of

Much of the day is spent at Bigbury-on-Sea, a beautiful seaside village on Devon’s south coast. From here we walk across a sand bar to Burgh Island. After walking around the island we then return to Bigbury, from where we then walk (time and tide permitting) up the estuary of the River Avon, before returning via a hill walk to Bigbury. For the full-day trip only, weather permitting, the day will end on nearby Bantham beach, from where we’ll photograph the sunset.

During the day, scenes to photograph include:

  • Patterns in the wet rippled sand on the sand bar, and the effects of different sun angles on those patterns;
  • The rugged and sheer cliffs along the southern side of Burgh Island;
  • During spring and early summer, wild coastal flowers (such as Sea Pink and Sea Campion), and possible nesting seabirds;
  • Stunning views from Burgh Island back towards the mainland and into the estuary of the River Avon;
  • Rock and pool compositions within the Avon estuary;
  • The movement of waves around rocks and over sand on Bantham beach;
  • Sunset over Burgh Island, seen from Bantham Beach.

Some of these items will be possible only with the full-day trip, most especially the last three.

Please note that this course can be run only during low tide.

What you’ll learn about

The course will aim to teach the following skills:

● Spotting potential image compositions beaches, rocks, cliffs and general coastal scenes;

● How to control and make use of the balance between shutter speed and lens aperture to gain the best exposure, and to control depth of field (ie the amount of the image that is sharply in focus);

● Making full use some of the camera’s most important features, such as semi-manual modes, in particular shutter-priority and aperture-priority The aim will be to help you to get away from ‘auto-everything’, as well as to understand the ISO settings, image histogram and exposure compensation;

● Executing the image, using positioning, perspective, focus control, use of light, and lens focal length to create simple, strong compositions.

Full-day or half-day?

Naturally, it is not possible to cover as much material in a half-day as can be achieved with a full-day.

A half-day course will give you roughly a four-hour trip, most of which will consist of photography, though there will be some tuition and walking time.

A full-day provides a seven-hour trip, again consisting mostly of photography time, but interspersed with some tuition and time travelling between sites.

See the prices below as part of making your choice.


Half-day (up to four hours): £280 for 1-4 people, and an additional £70 for each additional person;

Full-day (seven hours): £380 for 1-4 people, and an additional £100 for each additional person.

  • The Avon estuary, Bigbury. Sand, cliffs and islands
  • Burgh Island at dusk. Sand, cliffs and islands
  • Estuary of the River Avon, Bigbury. Sand, cliffs and islands
  • Windsurfing off Bantham. Sand, cliffs and islands
  • Sand patterns, Burgh Island.

What you will need

The camera equipment you’ll need to bring is simply what is useful for general landscape photography. If you have a DSLR or mirrorless camera with several lenses then a focal length range of about 17-300mm will be fine. If you have just the one zoom lens, or a compact camera, these are fine too – you’ll still be able to take great photos without having to worry about changing lens!

If you have any close-up equipment bring this, though it is not essential. Similarly, if you have any filters bring these too, though again they are not essential.

Please bring a tripod – it will be needed for sunset/dusk photography, and also possibly if light conditions are poor. If you don’t have one let me know as I may be able to lend you one.

Please make sure your camera battery/ies is/are fully charged, and that there is lots of space on your memory card(s).

Most of the walking will be on sand and rock, so be sure to wear shoes that are comfortable for either conditions, and which you don’t mind getting wet with salt water.

Be sure to bring plenty of waterproofing for yourself and your camera gear, as sadly it is difficult to be sure that we won’t be rain on.


There are large car parks at both Bigbury-on-Sea and Bantham.

Two cafes are located beside the beach at Bigbury-on-Sea, but you’re advised to bring your own food and drink.

Public toilets can be found close to the beaches at both Bigbury-on-Sea and Bantham.

A weather note

The entire length of this trip, whether half-day or full-day, will be spent out in the open, so please be prepared for rain showers.

Some flexibility regarding the scheduling may be needed. If in the final few days before the event we have a severe weather forecast for the planned day then it may be necessary to reschedule the event, hopefully for must one or perhaps two days later. Please try to include this flexibility when making your travel plans.

The course location

We’ll be meeting up in on of the car parks at Bigbury-on-Sea, which is at the end of the B3392, near Kingsbridge in south Devon.

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