Jurassic Coast Ambassador Steve Belasco of Jurassic Photographic takes us on his personal journey criss-crossing the World Heritage Site to amass 2,000 miles of Jurassic Coast.
I was fascinated to read my fellow Ambassador Colin Bentley’s amazing facts and figures blog on the number of canvases, paints and brushes he has used to paint the Jurassic Coast. It made me think of my own ‘stats’ that comprise my personal 2,000 miles of Jurassic Coast.
It’s more than six years since I started photographing the waters of the Jurassic Coast with a sense of purpose, having sailed these waters for many years before. I decided that I could try to establish an online library of images captured from offshore. It struck me that only a limited number of people have the opportunity to view its splendour from this (the best) viewpoint and I wanted to share my pride in my home county by utilising two of my passions, boats and photography. Plus, it gives me an excuse to get out on the water when I can, (alongside a full-time job and a growing family). I soon became a proud Ambassador for the Jurassic Coast Trust.
There are now some 5,000 images on my website, many of them unique. They record not just the incredible geology and geography of our World Heritage Site, but the humans and animals that come to enjoy it and the people and creatures that depend on it, whether for commerce or survival. It’s probably the only library of its kind on the internet.
The geology and history of our ancient coast is well served by people far more clever than I, so my mission is to record the here and now. I want to record our 21st-century custodianship to share with as many people as possible and to provide a visual record for future generations. We’re all part of evolution and I believe that long into the future, human interaction with the coast, whether that be pleasure, exploration, industry – yes and thoughtlessness – will be just as relevant as that of the dinosaurs.
Coming back to those ‘stats’: I’ve pottered around 2,500 nautical miles back and forth along the 100-odd miles of coast between Poole and Exmouth, with a couple of forays deeper into Devon. My average speed has been around five knots (six mph), meaning 500 hours at the helm, and many more have been spent stopped to actually take the photos.
In a small boat the longer excursions like Lyme Regis, Exmouth or Studland are not really practical in one day and have to be planned (weather being the major factor) so I’ve spent many nights in the small but cosy cabin aboard my boat Strange Weather.
The coast nearer to my home port of Portland has also seen me nipping out for a couple of hours here or a morning there. There are boats of all descriptions, huge ships visiting from Panama or the Far East, coasteerers plunging in and out of the water and abundant wildlife in its element – and it’s all with this stunning backdrop of our Jurassic Coast. Add in amazing cloud formations, sunrises, and sunsets and there’s nearly always something for me to joyfully record.
My first photobook documenting my journey on 2,000 miles of Jurassic Coast, Dorset From The Sea (2015), has proven very popular and I’m now looking forward to publication of the ‘full monty’, The Jurassic Coast From The Sea, in spring 2018, from which a proportion of the royalties will be donated to the Jurassic Coast Trust. I hope you will enjoy it too!
Steve Belasco – www.jurassicphotographic.com