“Dog and Swimmers, Bude Sea Pool” by Jerry Webb

This was shot in September in Bude, Cornwall, in 2019. We were on holiday and often go to this part of Cornwall. Occasionally, during the Summer, there are long periods of coastal mist, which can often be frustrating as the beaches, local landscapes, and sea views can be very beautiful.

As a photographer, however, I love the mist, so everything is not doom and gloom. Mist is a real game-changer. I love it’s unpredictable lighting effects, its concealment and its mystery. The spectacular sea pool historically has been a source of some good images for me so I always walk down the cliff steps to take a few photographs. This was mid morning and the mist was coming in with the tide. The photo was straightforward enough – I just had to be quick. The people were at a good distance and positionally good so I just needed to catch the dog, the dog was critical. I took 3 photos and this was the final one and by far the best as the dog was closest to the camera and had a leg off the ground.

Apart from creating great atmosphere the mist washes out the details and helps isolate the subjects creating a natural contrast and with figures this small in the frame this can be a very useful asset. We own a dog so I often take pictures of dogs while out and, as in this case, allow the dog to become centre-stage and the main point of focus of the image. What I love about this photo is the simple composition – big, wide open spaces with small figures have always been a huge appeal for me and can make great photographs. Also, this photograph has such a strong sense of place, the weather, its bleakness, the pool swimmers and the countless dogs are as familiar to me as the long beaches, the big seas and the towering cliffs.

What are the TWO most impactful features that make your image a good photograph? Don’t be shy!

1) The dog! It draws you in and, despite its relatively small size, dominates the photograph. It is central, silhouetted against a light background and demands you look at it. It is also clearly moving, contrasting with the stillness of the swimmers… and of course the leg off the ground.

2) Scale and space: My early obsession about the use of a wide angle lens was partly about scale and space. This combined with its natural distortion and drama gives this image a cinematic feel which I love, not quite real but very striking.

If you could make this photo again, what would be the ONE thing you would like to do better or different?

In truth probably nothing. However the character on the right is looking at me and that adds a little tension and I do love tension. I have always wondered what the image might have looked like if I had taken 2-3 steps forward when shooting, making this woman and her stare a much more significant element in the image. ‘Should I or could I have got closer’ is often a question I ask myself when looking back at my own photographs.

Jerry Webb shared this photograph in the FRAMES Facebook Group.


Jerry Webb, Brighton, UK


Equipment and settings

Nikon D610 with Sigma 12-24mm. Shot at approx. 16mm.

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Comments (1):

  1. Geoff Maxted

    April 6, 2024 at 15:45

    With the dog as the centre point, this photo works very well. I particularly like the fact that all the figures are separate: No overlaps and the low viewpoint makes it. I love a sea pool. The one at Clevedon is photogenic too as I will reveal in due course!


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