The challenge to step outside my comfort zone continues, in the hope that it will make me a better photographer or more aware of the shot I want to create, so when one of my photographer friends – Tim – a landscape photographer who I met through the Old Bakery group suggested joining him on a Monday morning at a location in Dorset to capture some images I said yes.
Little did I realise then that the 6.50am car park meeting point meant that I had to get out of bed at 4am! I had to get there… and everyone lived a lot closer than me! Going to bed at midnight and being woken at 2am with thunder made it a long day! Once we arrived then headed off in the dark for a couple of miles walk to his chosen location to make it in time for first lighting – which amazingly was dry … although there was no sunrise.
This was our location, known as Seacombeand is in the Purbecks. It is not the easiest of locations to get too – it is aimed at the photographer who is happy to put their kit in their rucksack, put on some sturdy wellies, dress warmly and whom is willing to hike a bit – but it is well worth the effort to visit this stunning location not to far from this National Trust location.
We aimed for sunrise, there wasn’t one – but it was an amazing morning with high tides, changing clouds and great company. The above image I shot as a triple height panorama, fixing the camera settings in manual and then joining about 15 images together in Photoshop to process. It is the only way I could get the whole cove in the frame.
After all the recent rain even getting to the cove was a challenge, this waterfall down to the cove is what we climbed down in the first light with our camera gear and tripods on our backs. A real adventure even before we took the first photo, and I was glad I was there with others as no way would I have risked that in the dark on my own!
Seacombe has a quite a high tidal range, it was a high tide for most of our visit – with the tide slowly going out. There is about a 2 meter tidal fall, and when the tide is out more ledges appear. Above I wanted to capture how the water drains back along the ledge collecting on the rock, and the force of the next wave as it begins to approach the shoreline. The sea has incredible energy.
I had a variety of filters with me and I was using them to create different effects with the water. With a 1/20sec exposure, I was able to slow up some of the turbulent to smooth out the splashes yet in the distance still able to capture the movement of a wave.
At 1/6sec the shutter speed is to slow to freeze the movement and the waves look much calmer… it does not have the same energy feel as the previous shot.
To capture the true speed of the wave, and the power as it hot the ledges in front of us I needed to use a faster shutter speed, I Increased the ISO and widen the aperture and you can feel the wave crashing towards you.
Increasing the ISO again, enabled to increase the shutter speed even further and you can really see the extent to which the spray crashes on to the shore.
The sea did not change – the waves are still crashing at the shore, but by adding a neutral density filter, widening the aperture I was able to slow the shutter speed right down and the water just looks like it is flowing endlessly off the rocks.
Another ledge, this one is submerged in the sea – you can see the energy the water has as it drains off the ledge and rushes towards it to cover it up again. Is there a right shutter speed .. not really it depends on the amount of light available, the speed the waves are coming and of course the look you want to generate.
My big stopper is a really dark ND filter that add’s a slight colour cast to the shot, but I have emphasised this in the editing process, at just over 4 minutes, you can make out all the ledges and hidden hazards that are hiding in the water, the clouds are also completely blurred.
A black and white conversion of the image – leaves you wondering what time of day the photo was taken, whether it is a recent image or an old one … and really draws out the circles in the water movement that you would have never known were there.
Another long exposure image – this one with a 6 stop filter … imagine trying to bring your boat to harbor here with all those ledges underneath the surface of the sea – you become aware that many a boat would have struggled here.
This is Tim – he organised the trip and he was full of great advice, he offers photographic workshops, he really opened my eyes to being a little more daring than I would be normally. He was not afraid of using his camera and getting in the right location for his shot. He is firmly on the ledge here, and there is a shallow ledge in front of him – but by watching the waves, we came to realise that every so often one was a little larger than the last … and him Tim got a little bit wet…
I was really pleased with the shot, I wanted to get a sense of scale and I wanted to record some of the other photographers in action… Tim had a range of filters attached to him. had a cleaning cloth for his lens and regularly turned it away from the water – and it was interesting to see him work.
This is John, another photographer, his tripod was a lighter one – you can really see the difference in these two shots … so John’s tripod is more likely to be knocked aside by the waves, and suffer from movement … I need to look at how to use my study tripod on location …. John was great at spotting the rogue waves, he even waved at them – why though I have no idea … however the best Rogue wave he spotted was this one below…
John shouted, Tess was to the left and got soaked, I watched Tim turn round with his camera and head fast in my direction… it is a Nikon with a tilt lens on (hugely expensive) and well, I think you can decide whether he got a little wet!
This has to be my favorite action shot to date – sorry Tim … The fast shutter speed enabled me to capture the force of the wave as it suddenly broke over the ledge, soaking everything in its path…. I am so glad it wasn’t me!
The main points I took away from today…
- Going out with other photographers is a great experience, you can share tips, ideas, make new friends, get different shots and learn from one another, they might challenge you to think differently or try something new and that is how your images improve.
- The sea is dangerous. Rogue waves can happen, you can easily put yourself at risk and others – play it safe, go with a friend, don’t be foolish, protect your kit, and always keep an eye on the water, check the tides and have an escape route!
My album is now live here: Dorset Coastline – with prints available for sale and for commercial use, and contains a few more images from my coastal adventure…. just got to hope Tim invites me out again!
I am delighted to say Tim read my blog and asked me to share this comment…
“The Foolish Photographer, the title fits the photo perfectly. I would like to add to your safety message within your blog for other readers. With Landscape and Seascape Photography it is vital to know your surroundings and be aware of the people around you and for their safety. Plan, Plan, Plan and double check everything. A recce of the shoot location is part of this safety message, certainly in an area such as this where danger lurks at any level of tide. I have been to this location many times and know it well enough to take others and respect the safety of others. We often arrive in the dark. Torches are vital, but not just any old torch, one that can really light the area around you. When was the last time you checked your batteries? Be self sufficient. Know your civil time, your sunrise, direction of sun rise, tide times which include low, high and second tides, weather conditions, sunset, dusk and moon phase. Be aware of temperature. Correct clothing, correct foot ware, nutrition and liquids. I always carry a whistle in case of emergency which stemmed from many trips alone to Scotland in areas such as Rannoch. Leave a note in your vehicle or with somebody that isn’t on the same trip (if you’re alone). Buy the best clothing you can afford, it really does make a world of difference and adds to the enjoyment of this thing we call Photography. “
Please stay safe …