I'd heard about the "Dolphins" a few months ago whilst looking for locations a little further afield.
Back in July 1942 in the run up to Operation Overlord, the invasion of the Normandy Beaches on D-Day things began to change along the Hampshire coastline a Lepe. This was designated as one of the staging and disembarkation points for troops destined for Gold Beach.
Hundreds of troops and vehicles were sent to the area and hidden along the narrow country lanes that transect the New Forest. On the coast, the shoreline itself was hardened to allow for the construction of the Mulberry Harbour, a man-made harbour that would be part built on the South Coast and taken to Normandy and assembled there.
Visiting the location today there are still clear elements of its wartime past clearly visible. The most notable are the "Dolphins", two decaying structures sitting just off the coast, the last remnants of the jetty built out into the sea to assist in the loading of the vessels that would take 1579 troops and 292 vehicles to Normany on 6th July 1944.
In photographing the "Dolphins" I wanted not only to capture the solitude of the structures as they are today, alone in the Solent, for many mere inconveniences in their course as they navigate their yachts along this popular channel but also some of the feelings felt by the men as they left for the Normandy beaches. Feelings of apprehension, fear but also optimism and hope.
I shot several compositions, all long exposures to calm the somewhat turbulent sea being whipped up by a brisk south-westerly. This was by far my favourite. I chose to mute the colours a little and darken the corners to draw the eye to the structures themselves and on to the horizon and what lay beyond the Isle of White which sits to the right of the image.
I took the decision to also create a black and white version, here the movement of the clouds almost pointing to Normandy. The bright foreground increasing the feeling of calm and tranquillity so common before the storm that was to come.
I look forward to returning to Lepe Beach in the coming months to capture the history that remains here at a different time of the year.