Last night, hubby had Coastguard training and he was involved in a search and rescue exercise with the team – he was planning the search, and instead of looking for a pretend person he recruited a friend – who sat out on the sea wall and whom hoped to be rescued. Our friend is wheelchair bound and he had agreed to be separated from his chair, so they could practice with a stretcher for someone with specific needs, and so that the search had an extra factor as they had to locate his chair … I was there waiting for help to arrive … and making sure his chair was not stolen, and that he did not get too cold, but I was to stay back from the casualty.
I thought it was the perfect opportunity to take sunset photos – so I had my tripod and my 18-250mm lens … when we were arrived I was gutted … the tide was out, there was lots of mud and gravel and there looked like no chance of a sunset at all … anyway I went for a wander with my daughter, and she went out on the uncovered foreshore and took an interesting photo on her phone… I then went to investigate – just as the light changed and I was so delighted I was there … in a matter of moments the light changed and I captured exactly the shots I had hoped for.
The first photo involved getting close to some metal structures that are hidden normally by high tide, the sun was setting to the right of the photo, but the rocks and the seaweed in the foreground reminded me of a body – just lying there. I used aperture priority mode but under exposed the picture by a couple of stops.
I wanted to introduce a sense of scale – this is my daughter standing in the shot, I choose to add a rear sync flash as I wanted to freeze her into the frame in case she had moved – the draw back of this was that the flash bounced back off her shoes.
I did not move – but my daughter did – can you see her in this picture … she walked out on the foreshore exploring and I captured her again.
The light was constantly changing from blues through orange and onto reds, and I just loved how the metal shapes made such a clear silhouette against the evening sky.
My model was back, this time experimenting again with her phone, she then suggested she would like a new profile picture for her facebook page, so I experimented with this, she stabilised her phone camera on her knee, so that I can position myself behind her and take my shot on a slightly longer shutter speed.
The sky was filling up with colour, I changed angle again and got as low as I could so I could capture the reflections in the wet mud and rock pools, and with the large rock, pebbles and the texture of seaweed adding foreground interest.
The sky was now stunning, but we choose this point to move inland as we did not want to be stuck on the foreshore in the dark, especially as we knew the Coastguard would be looking for their casualty and I wanted to be in place to try and capture their rescue – although now I knew it would be hard to photograph as I only had my on camera flash, a large torch and the light was rapidly disappearing.
I would need to use all my skills to try and capture a photo of them during the exercise and I was busying thinking that I needed to get into position to use my tripod, I needed to be aware of reflections of their florescent and reflection uniforms, I would have to work with their lights (torch, headlights etc) and I needed to think about shutter speed as with moving adults I would need to keep that short.
I upped the ISO 3200, widen the aperture so that I could get the most light into the lens as possible, the depth of field and detail mattered less than a shutter speed that was fast enough to freeze any movement – it did cause some noise, but as I took the photo as a raw file in Lightroom I reduced the noise until I was happy with the result. I was delighted with this photo – their torches lit the scene of the incident, the almost gone sunset provided an interesting sky, the wheelchair a powerful silhouette and it tells a story that something is unfolding and the light of the casualty draws you into the image.
My second image that I was happy with involved the Coastguard team moving the casualty in a stretcher up the sea wall so that he could be united with his wheelchair – the team were more active and they were moving away from me so I had to zoom in more – I reduced the ISO to 2000 as I felt there was too much noise in the earlier photos, but I needed more light so from my position on the beach I gently lit the team with my torch and amazingly it worked – the rescuers are lit, but the darkness remains and although some of the action is frozen, there is some blur too as some team members move quicker than others.
It was a great evening for photos, much better than I first anticipated and I was glad I got to be there to capture the evenings light.