Fullabrook left me elated and torn

Fullabrook Down is where a large section of a wind farm has recently been constructed. It stretches from the downs just outside Ilfracombe to the hills near Barnstaple; almost dissecting this part of North Devon. It is controversial and I wrestle with the whole turbine debate. I’m not sure that it’s my place to really comment: I don’t live with them on my doorstep. However the turbines are an integral part of this image.

So it was on a quite remarkable, weather wise, weekend in North Devon that this image started to take shape. The storms had been coming in across the Atlantic all day and after searching for Goldilocks in the morning my photographic twitch began to itch. A nasty ailment when away with the family.

My wife is very understanding of these sorts of things and after listening to me go on and on about “the light” “the clouds” “did you see that” she relented and off I went.

The roads in this part of the world are known not only for their narrowness but also because of the height of the hedges. Neither of which makes landscape spotting easy. “What’s that?” I hear you say! Well it’s the annoying habit that photographers have of keeping one eye on the road and one eye on the scenery around them. Not at all safe but it has no known cure.

I had seen this particular cloud start to take shape from miles away. As I drove along at nailbiting speed I was able to catch fleeting glimpses of a suitable foreground at each gated entrance to a field. This wasn’t working. I needed more time.

I abandoned the car in what looked like the most unused field and hoped that the farmer wouldn’t close and lock the gate behind me. With my pack on my back I ran the next mile or so, always heading up in the hope of finding a suitable vantage point. Having looked at my map I saw a Trig Point so I guessed that would guarantee me the view I was looking for…maybe. First effort: telegraph posts. Second effort: sheep…third time – bingo! An empty grassed field. No potential threat to a farmers livelihood there and a slim’ish chance of being rebuked for trespassing.

The Trig Point wasn’t the highest spot in the field, which looking for thankfully gave my beating heart time to settle down. The sky behind me was bright blue and I could feel my neck burning. Yet the view in front of me was of this growing, blue-black bruised monster. Amongst which, picked out and highlighted by the bright sun were the turbines of Fullabrook Down.

To give you some idea they are 110 meters tall…or 360 feet, yet here they looked so minuscule. So puny.

I tried a number of compositions and some panorama’s of the entire cloud (which was enormous,) but in this image it’s just the sense of scale or man v nature that makes it work. You don’t need to see the entire cloud to know what it is. That and the rainbow that appeared as if by demand. So cloud, storms, light, rainbow…anything else to really knock me off my feet?!

Oh yes. Time. Time to watch as it moved slowly over the landscape. Time to enjoy the spectacle of it all. Time to appreciate that whilst Fullabrook Down may never be considered pretty on its own, in a setting like this it is hard not to be impressed.


Storm Clouds - Fullabrook-Down

Storm Clouds, Fullabrook Down, North Devon

[Canon 5D MkII, 50mm 1.4, ISO 100, F13, 1/60 sec, 3 Stop ND grad]

Print available here