Not another postcard article, surely? Relax, it is in no way attempting to reach the calibre of the excellent recent articles on here. Just think of it as filler or a break from the technical stuff with some images that are merely intended to bring a place to you and to encourage people to go out shooting.
Anyway, a short time ago I was fortunate enough to be invited on a road trip with some folks to the Isle of Wight. A beautiful little island on the south coast of England, replete with history, geography and nature, there is something for almost everyone here. We stayed at the beautiful Enchanted Manor, apparently well known throughout the island for its fantasy and enchantment themed décor. Certainly one of the most interesting hotels I’ve ever stayed in. And home too to some beautiful red squirrels, the United Kingdom’s rare but indigenous species that was driven almost to extinction on the mainland by the introduction of the American greys. I didn’t bring along my zoom lens as I was travelling light but I managed to capture them with the tiny Olympus 60mm F/2.8, super sharp and fast to focus (for a macro lens), especially as one squirrel was content for me to get pretty close.
The island is probably known for its seasides and beaches, which are admittedly picturesque. I’m not much of a beach or seaside person myself but I couldn’t help enjoy the scenery in the pretty coastal towns of Ventnor and Shanklin.
Shanklin Chine is the island’s oldest tourist attraction, a natural gorge lined by trees and interrupted by small waterfalls, and a complete contrast to the beach and seaside just a short distance away. Not quite Iguacu in Argentina or Skogafoss in Iceland but an interesting feature nonetheless.
If history is your poison, and it is one of mine (together with a small shot of whiskey), then Osborne House should certainly impress you. A former rural retreat for Queen Victoria and the place of her death in January 1901, the interior opulence of the mansion is matched only by the scale and splendour of the exterior grounds, including a private beach and a museum for her grandchildren.
More history and some fantastic views can be absorbed at St Catherine’s Oratory, locally known as the Pepper Pot for obvious reasons, it is all that remains of a medieval structure built in 1328 as a penance by a local landowner who had stolen church property.
Further afield on the coast is St Catherine’s Lighthouse. Shooting here was a trifle challenging due to the thick haze of that afternoon. I could barely see the English Channel beyond it. But it is an interesting and functional structure that I imagine could be a worthy focal point in many a landscape or night-time shot.
Even more history can be learned at Carisbrooke Castle, built in the 12th century and the site of King Charles I imprisonment and execution in 1649. As well as an ornate chapel and donkey-operated well the castle walls and keep offer some terrific views over the surrounding areas.
Driving through the island it is easy to pass by some of its unique sites, such as Bembridge Windmill, built in the 1700s, Quarr Abbey, and the Garlic Farm (I never realised how many distinctive varieties of garlic existed from all over the world).
Coastal roads allow one to take in views of the island’s cliffs, especially beautiful towards sunset.
I only indulge myself when I’m away from home and there is no shortage of excellent eateries on the island. The Red Duster in Cowes had great service and one of the best desserts I’ve ever tried (a few more hours in the gym, methinks), and the friendly The Beach Hut in Totland looked after us very well while we enjoyed the sunset over the Solent.
The Isle of Wight is a charming reminder that one doesn’t always need to travel to the exotic ends of the Earth to have a great time. I love my home, the United Kingdom, and on its very doorstep can be found a place of plentiful natural beauty and history, a great place for a fun road trip. I’m grateful to have been invited.
As I was the third person in a company of three and it wasn’t my car I didn’t always have the luxury of time to wait for the best light or return to a location. Thus many of these images were composed and shot quickly or on the fly. This is in no way to excuse how bad my photography is but I imagine the scenery would offer even more promise in the right light. All the images were shot RAW with the Olympus E-M5 and either the 12-40mm F/2.8 or 60mm F/2.8. They were processed in Lightroom to achieve my typical (or at least intended) picture postcard look and then reduced in size, quality and watermarked as a single action in CS6. For some shots towards sunset, I would use the shade white balance to increase the orange hues (shooting RAW I could have done this in post anyway but it allowed me to see what image could look like on scene).
Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed these little postcards. A few more can be seen here.