Coastal Landscape Photo Walk 23 October 2010

Seven Photographers for Seven Sisters - there's a pun in there somewhere!

On the 23rd October a group of enthusiastic and willing photographers joined me for a photo walk to photograph the coastal land and seascape at Hope Gap & Seven Sisters, located between Brighton and Eastbourne on the south coast of England.

The Seven Sisters chalk cliffs as seen from the beach at Hope Gap

A little thought goes into planning these walks as I try and get the low tide and sunset to coincide by 30 minutes maximum, thus ensuring the best photo opportunities. On this day we were also blessed with some wonderful light throughout the walk.

The image above was shot with a Canon 5d MkII with 24 - 105 mm L Series glass at 24 mm. A circular polarising filter was used to reduce specular reflections from wet rocks and enhance the sky - in this case to define the clouds and darken the top right of frame.

Sea defences make a graphic composition in the post sunset light

Just because the light fades at the end of the day, you should not let it stop you creating images. This shot of the sea defences was observed just as I was packing my bag! In other words, do not pack your bag until you get back to your car - you never know what opportunities will be missed.

This frame was tweaked in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) - a bit or recovery for the clouds, contrast, clarity and vibrance. For me the horizon is level - a minor miracle.

Moon Rise over the Friston

All I had to do was turn through 90 degrees to be met by the rising moon. OK, it wasn't close enough to make a decent size image with a 400 mm lens on full frame, but it did allow me to illustrate how to expose for moon images.

Remember that the moon is illuminated by sunlight, so a good exposure to start with is one similar to daylight on Earth - in this case 1/200th @ f11 ISO 400, daylight white balance. A second exposure was then taken for the whole scene with minus one stop exposure compensation dialled in to darken the scene. Had I used the indicated exposure with the camera set to Av, Aperture priority, it would appear too light. Camera exposure meters are (generally) calibrated to expose for mid-grey. More on this another time.

The two images were then combined in post-production to create this scene.

Neal Ball created this excellent image early in the walk by taking the sky from the south and combining in post-production over the barn in the west.

South Hill Barn by Neal Ball - this is one of those images that would also look good in monochrome

This was one of those shots where I know the group were getting a little on edge waiting for the light, but well worth it when you see a shot like this.

It also goes on to prove that good landscape photography is more than having the right gear. You need to be able to read topographical maps, sun tables, tide tables, weather charts, obtain local knowledge and interpret it all once you get to your location.

Then, once you've pressed the shutter release, have the vision and experience to create the image you visualised in you minds eye during post-production.

I am planning more of these walks soon. If you'd like more information or would like to added to my mailing list, do email me.

Happy snapping.



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