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  • Writer's pictureAndy Brown

I got lucky! (or did I?)

I was watching another landscaper's post on YouTube about making the most of the conditions as they occur and not over-planning a shoot. This I fully concur with as in my part of the World conditions, particularly tide and weather vary with extreme rapidity. In a way, that is the excitement, the challenge if you will of making good images when circumstances are not ideal. That is what I found on yesterday's trip to the small coastal town of St. Agnes in North Cornwall. It's charming beach, also home to the famous Driftwood Spars Inn is called Trevaunance Cove. A Cove is a small area of sand or shingle usually surrounded by headlands which define its limits. In this case, the Cliffs are towering ones which glow a beautiful orange colour in the right light. However I arrived at the point the setting sun was just dipping behind a headland and the light was soon after extinguished. Problem? well no because I wasn't there specifically for that as I had photographed the cliffs before. This trip was partly a recce with a hope for an image or two if possible. Below there are three images of essentially the same composition, each with a different focus. I give a run-down of the choices I made for each both pre and post processing, partly for my own benefit, but also to show how different the same scene can look with just a few alterations.

Rock on the Beach of Trevaunance Cove, Cornwall with an incoming Tide
Beach Rock: XT-2, 55mm, f/8.0, 6.5s

As the beach was chaotic and the light uninspiring, I could not see a composition. however there was one cloud which was still reflecting the setting Sun and it was casting a glow onto the Sea directly below. I quickly scouted out the rock shown in this image to the right. With time short, I framed a composition that included just three elements: The rock, the cloud and the incoming Sea. To soften the tumbled sea, I fitted a 6stop ND filter. I also put a 3stop graduated filter on to tame the bright sky. What these do is reduce the light falling on the Camera sensor and to compensate for this, I increased shutter speed to compensate. This version is full frame with no crop and the rock positioned just above the middle of the frame. The sea is blurred, but there is still detail in the foreground and the sky is sharply rendered. Post processing has been minimal.

Beach rock and incoming tide
Fuji XT-2, 55mm, f/8.0 15.0s

The second image in this series is more minimalist with the sky largely removed and a longer shutter speed still has further smoothed the water. There is still detail in the sea and sky, but it is softer and less of a draw to the eye. Colours are also more pastel as the light has now largely disappeared from the cloud above. The rock, now to the top of the frame dominates. Post processing is a little more in this version and the rock has been given some punch using a radial filter. The overall effect is a much calmer one. The squarer crop helps in the calming process.

Beach rock with colourful sky.
Fuji XT-2, 55mm, f/11 0.6s

Finally , here is an image taken with a much faster shutter speed. This really allows the texture of the swirling waves to come through. The six stop filter has been replaced by a three stop one which reduces the exposure time to around ½ a second. There is still some blurring of the fast moving waves, but the effect is much less extreme. All these images have had the Fuji Velvia film simulation applied to give that unique look, but on this image the colour balance has shifted, probably due to a colour cast in the filter. However, I like the overall effect. This image has had more localised adjustments than the other two to balance it and reduce the tendency for bright areas to drag the eye to them.


What do you think? Do you have a favourite? Or are none to your liking? Please comment if you want to express your viewpoint. Positive or negative.

Thanks for looking

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