Pinholes at Chemical Beach

Chemical Beach is just to the south of Seaham in County Durham. The name comes from the industrial past of the area and the feature that is most photographed is a set of wheels which came from a train that tipped waste glass into the sea.

I would have liked to get an image of the wheels with the water higher around them but the very wide-angle view of the Reality So Subtle 6x6F pinhole camera meant that I really needed to be very close to the wheels, and I didn’t really fancy being waist-deep in water.

As well as the wheels there is an impressive rock stack called Liddle Stack and various eroded wooden groynes and metal pipes.

I wanted to get an image of Liddle Stack and it’s surrounding wooden stumps surrounded by water but the tide would need to be much higher. After waiting for an hour for the tide to rise high enough I decided to come back another day with the tide falling.

The return trip was a couple of weeks later and the tide was at just the right state as I reached the bottom of the cliffs.

The water may look smooth, due to a 30-second exposure, but I was standing in the surf which came over my welly-tops …. fortunately I only lost one image due to the tripod moving through wave action during the exposure.

The film used was Ilford Pan F+ and I used a 4-stop neutral density filter, to slow the required exposures from about 2 seconds to 30 seconds. Unfortunately I completely forgot to make a further adjustment for reciprocity failure. I developed the film semi-stand in HC-110 diluted 1:160.

I enjoyed visiting Chemical Beach and I imagine I’ll come back again to try out other photographic tools. I may use the Mamiya RZ67 with a 10-stop ND filter next time, to get some lens-based long exposure images. I quite fancy doing some 4×5 as well but I’m not sure how I would manage to focus under a dark cloth whilst standing in the surf !


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