alan frost photography

fine art photography in monochrome

Pembrokeshire – A ‘letterbox’ view

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As I write this post the sun is shining and Summer is almost here but these four images depict a very different time of year. They were all taken on the same day back in February. Some may say a typical late winters day in Wales, when nobody in their right mind would be out with their camera. Mist, drizzle and poor visibility. However these conditions can be ideal for the monochrome photographer.

In all cases the native 3 x 2 crop of the 35mm sensor included too much sky, and with little or no interest in this part of the picture I have cropped each image to what might be described as a ‘letterbox’. The aspect ratio is about 3 x 1, but what really matters is whether or not the crop works compositionally, and I believe it does. Photography is often about what you choose to exclude from the frame to strengthen a picture, not just about what is included already.

In the first shot taken at Newgale Sands, I focused on the foreshore which has softened the figures, the sea and distant rocks. This has helped to emphasize the misty conditions. The couple and their dog are an essential part of the image. The provide scale and as they are the only people on the beach they serve to reinforce the fact that the weather was so poor keeping most sensible people indoors, but for dog walkers and photographers!

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After taking the first shot I looked behind me only to find a swathe of mobile homes which overlook this section of coastline. Very quiet at this time of year, and only coming to life when the weather improves and the holiday makers return.

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Moving further along the coast I stopped at Little Haven. Conditions remained the same and this time I wanted to capture the tidal movement of the sea. Resting the camera on a wall I used a ND filter to give me  a slow shutter speed, about 1.6 seconds. Several exposures where necessary to give me the look of the movement in the sea water I was after.

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Finally a shot of what I assume is a farmhouse taken at Marloes. A typical dwelling in this part of the world but what appealed to me was the telegraph poles and how they could be used to create what I think is a pleasing composition.

Each picture looks better larger, so do click on an image to view a larger version which will open in a new window.

 

8 Responses to “Pembrokeshire – A ‘letterbox’ view”

    • alan frost

      Thanks for commenting. I think standard aspect ratios have their place, particularly when putting together a body of work where consistency is important. For individual images is an more inclined to crop the image based on what’s right and ignore convention, although I am surprised how often I end up with 3×2, 5×4, 4×3 or 1×1, all of which I like.

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  1. BuntyMcC

    I love the name you have given to this crop. I agree that 2:3 shots of distant landscapes with wide-angled lenses often have an excess of boring sky.

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    • alan frost

      It’s quite apt isn’t it. I think a lens of any focal length can capture too much sky although the wide angles are particularly prone to the problem. I find it helps if I consider how I might crop an image when I press the shutter. But reserve the right to change my mind in processing!

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  2. LensScaper

    Very reminiscent of Wales for me – where it often seems to rain in my experience. But plenty of atmosphere in these shots, Alan. The shape of the sensor should never determine the dimensions of a final image. I’ve just replaced my old Canon G10 with a Lumix LX100 that has four options for the image ratios ranging from square to 16:9

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    • alan frost

      Thanks Andy. I agree whole heartedly about the sensor size and the final crop. Two very different things in my view. Useful to be able to easily switch the aspect ratio – I remember doing just that with a Panasonic LX3 – which I’ve still got but rarely gets used.

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  3. Simon Howlett

    Great images Alan, the aspect ratio is superb. I think cropping an image is a good thing to do, I’ve done it with many of my images as well. As you say, photography is often about what you choose to leave out of a picture.

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