Storm Freya - Jay Birmingham

Storm Freya

Most of the weekends this year have been rainy affairs, with the sun seemingly reserved for mid-week photographers. Last weekend was also going to be the same, so rather than doing what I normally do - trying to spend a long time looking for places that may have some gaps in the cloud, I decided to embrace the poor weather and meet an oncoming storm!

Storm Freya - only the second named storm to hit the UK in 2019 - was due to hit from the south west. I live in the middle of the country, about as far away from the sea as you can get, but figured that since I have no stormy sea shots, that the two and a half hour trip would be worth it.

As I had been a scout in the past, the motto 'be prepared' is one that I still live by. I thus made sure that everything was set up for wet weather. I had stood at Holyhead during Storm Brian, and was soaked in seconds, and so was taking no chances!

The rain proof cover was on my camera and bag, I had a second camera also covered, and my 70-200mm weatherproof lens was on the camera ready. I also threw in a stack of lens cloths and cleaning wipes.

Upon arriving at Porthcawl, in South Wales, however, we were disappointed by the gentle lapping waves pathetically splashing the base of the breakwater.

Hoping that things would improve, we did what we usually do when lacking inspiration - we went for something to eat. 

Once full, and energised by the bread and butter pudding, we went back out to find that the waves, although not huge, were improving. The wind was getting stronger and the tide was also coming in. 

We started to take photos...

Four hours later we were still taking photos! The storm came in; the waves crashed against the breakwater, engulfing the small lighthouse and the wind became so strong that people struggled walking.

This wasn't like my experience in Holyhead, however. Despite the storm - this was ironically one of the first weekends where it didn't rain, and the wind was from the side, meaning I didn't have to keep wiping my lens. 

There were many people there watching the storm, and smiles were all around as people marvelled at the spectacle being provided by nature.

 I went home with thousands of images to sift through, one of which spooked me a little as it looked just like the side profile of a head, as if Poseidon himself was emerging from the turbulent sea, and is possibly one of my favourite images from the trip.

The day was amazingly fun and exciting, and I hope it won't be my only attempt at storm photography.

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