Cockle Picker


Burry Port Cockle Picker

There is a stalwart group of Cockle Pickers in Burry Port and I wanted to record their activates as part of my long-term project to produce a photo-essay of the small businesses, charities and Not for Profit Organisations in my town.

I regularly take my dogs for walks on this beach so I had been able to observe the men for some time before approaching a few to enquire about the best time to view their activities. They have a particular requirement of tide conditions and fulfilling the limitations of the local licensing regulations.

As I had no knowledge of when they would be on the beach I had to check my ‘local tides’ app on my ‘phone to gauge when the tide would be far enough out to fulfill the fishers’ requirements.

It was intention to produce a set of silhouettes so I was looking for a winter’s day sunrise to provide the lighting conditions that suited my needs. This shot was taken in January 2015 at 09:36 following several weeks of failures due to wrong tides, no sunrise or worst of all, no fisherman when all the conditions were otherwise perfect.

When I spotted my subject I approached him to request permission to photograph him and commenced to set-up my camera to achieve an acceptable image. Finally I set the camera to ISO 100 | f/8 at 1/400. I used my Nikon D800 with a Sigma 50mm f/2.8. After much experimentation I found that underexposing by -0.7 EV provided the silhouette I was looking for.

I like the composition of this image; the way in which the shape of the sieve is repeated in his arms and back and again in the bucket rim and wire handle. The rim-light on his boots provides a clear and unmistakable delineation between boot and sea and the catch-light on the bucket rim adds that final detail. The position of his head directs and retains the viewer’s eyesight on the sieve and the body of the picture and the image follows the rule-of-thirds for the horizontal.

The scene conjures up a serene image of a disappearing art and tradition of hunter-gatherer and describes the beautiful coastline of Burry Port with the Gower across the bay in the background. The selection of f/8 has taken advantage of the len’s ‘sweet-spot’ and provides sufficient detail of the coastline in the distance.

I am very happy with this image and it is a firm favourite of mine.










2 responses to Cockle Picker

    • raysfotos says:

      I saw the photo on your fb. I’m so pleased if I inspired a memory. I think it’s important if these old ways and techniques are maintained and practised.

      Liked by 1 person

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