Posts from the ‘seaside’ category

‘To flip or not to flip?’ that is the question

In the past couple of weeks it has been suggested by two individuals on two separate occasions that I should consider ‘flipping’ one of my images. Their comments applied to two different photographs so it set me thinking whether or not I should apply this post production technique, as it’s not something I had ever considered doing before.

Obviously this technique could not be applied to an image with any writing or symbols, which when reversed, would no longer be legible and it would be clear to the viewer that they were in fact looking at the original image in a ‘mirror’. Neither could it apply to a recognisable landmark as it would no longer be a true representation of what the viewer expected to see. However if the image did not fall into either of these categories then what would be wrong with flipping? If the result is more pleasing to the eye, even though it no longer represents reality, then what’s the issue? After all the vast majority of my images are converted to monochrome because thats how I want my images to look. No one ‘sees’ in black and white so this change is applied for visual imapct. If I wanted my photographs to represent what people would actually see with their own eyes then frankly nearly all post production work would be a ‘no go’ area and even the choice of lens can distort what the eye actually sees, but thats a topic for another day.

Well, the only way to find out would be to try ‘flipping’ and to then compare and analyse the results.

The example I have chosen for this exercise is a shot taken at East Head in Wittering of wind swept sand dunes. The first image is the original photo followed by the flipped version. No other changes have been made.

Sand dunes at East Head

…..and now the flipped version.

Sand dunes at East Head - version 2 'flipped'

So which one works best? Well in my view the flipped version is the better photograph, it’s more visually pleasing. So why should this be?

In my opinion its down to two main factors. Firstly when we look at an image our first inclination is to start from the left hand side and our eyes then move to the right hand side. Our eyes naturally follow this path as we read from left to right……it therefore feels comfortable to look at an image in this way. Our eyes are also drawn to the brightest areas of an image; in this case the sand in the lower half of the picture. So when the image is flipped, the bright area is now on the left and not on the right. The lead in lines of the sand, take our eyes to the right, the grasses are also being ‘blown’ from the left, and our eyes find it much easier to move around the image. In the original shot this does not happen and our eyes find it difficult to settle, with the result that we see a ‘busy’ image and one that really doesn’t work that well, or not as well as it could when flipped. As there is nothing else in the image which would give the ‘flipping’ game away, the final result is in my opinion perfectly satisfactory and an acceptable form of post manipulation.

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South coast seafront

I am very fortunate to live and work close to the sea, so the opportunity to take some coastal shots when I have a few minutes to spare are most welcome. A few days ago I took some photos of Bognor Regis seafront, although on this occassion I mainly concentrated on the Pier. Like many in this country the pier is always in need of repair. The constant ravages of the salt water, wind, rain and even the sun, all take their toll as the seasons pass by. From a photographic point of view  they also make good black and white subjects.

When I have more time I will take some images of other piers along the South Coast. They are a relic of a bygone era, and whilst many still survive others have sadly been lost forever.

Here are a few shots all taken with the Olympus OMD EM5 and Panasonic 20mm f1.7 prime lens. On this occasion the mono conversion was carried out in Lightroom 4 and not in Silver Efex Pro 2. I have also set up a preset in Lightroom which allows me to quickly batch process a series of images into black and white, using my preferred settings. These are mainly, adding contrast, clarity and sharpening, as I always shoot in RAW.

As it’s the end of October I suspect this may be the last time the ‘Bouncy Castle’ will be inflated this year.

Bognor Regis seafront

The rain was being blown in from the west….ready to inflict some more damage on the fabric of the pier.

Bognor Regis Pier

They really are extraordinary structures……………

Bognor Regis pier

…..and something has to hold them up.

Pier support

The caption for this last shot might be……..

‘Only survivors will be prosecuted!’

Only survivors will be prosecuted!

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Gathering storm at East Head

Last Friday was the second time I didn’t need to go into the office. It’s still a strange feeling working a four day week, but a very pleasant one all the same!  Having decided that I would try and devote some of my time every Friday to my photography, I thought that I should rekindle the Nikon D90 DSLR and perhaps visit the coast – attach a wide angle lens and see what I can produce.

Breakfast over, I packed everything I thought I might need in my camera bag and headed down to West Wittering, with the specific intention of exploring East Head. The sky was blue and completely void of clouds. A beautiful morning but as I drove to my destination I thought the weather was just too fine for the type of images I had envisaged taking. The weather forecast had indicated that by lunchtime clouds and maybe the odd the shower, would arrive from the west. I thought better of a morning shoot, turned the car round and headed home to do some gardening!
By lunchtime the weather forecast proved to be accurate; so back in the car and I headed south. As I parked up, the cloud formations were taking shape and I knew the decision I had made earlier to postpone my ‘shutter therapy’ (a phrase coined by Robin Wong – read his blog here) had been the right one.
By late afternoon the rain clouds appeared to the north and the wind moved them swiftly across the South Downs from west to east. In the meantime East Head itself was still bathed in glorious autumnal sun, which resulted in the three images below.

I returned home, downloaded the images using Lightroom and converted to monochrome in Silver Efex Pro 2.

Storm approaching.
Nikon D90 with 16-85mm @ 19mm f18 1/80 ISO200 hand heldStorm clouds at East Head

Sand dunes and wind blown grasses
Nikon D90 10-24mm @10mm f10 1/160 ISO200 hand heldSand dunes at East Head

East Head – the gathering storm
Nikon D90 16-85mm @16mm f18 1/125 ISO200 hand heldStorm approaching East Head at Wittering

‘People and Places’ – Littlehampton Seafront

This is the second post which relates to Jacqui Hurst’s ‘People and Places’ course I attended at West Dean College earlier this summer. In complete contrast to our visit to Glorious Goodwood we spent a day at Littlehampton; a typical and relatively small seaside resort on the south coast.

Whilst a colourful location I stuck to the brief I had imposed on myself at the begining of the course, i.e. choosing monochrome for all of my images. I tried to concentrate on textures, tones and good composition whilst trying to capture the ‘feeling and atmosphere’ of the seafront. Fortunately the weather was dry and bright so there were a fair number of people around. At times though it was overcast, but this helped from a photographic point of view as I did not have extremes of contrast to worry about.

Some of the group felt uncomfortable photographing people. I very enjoyed the experience and the Olympus EM5 certainly allowed me to be a little more discreet. Had I been using a substantial DSLR with a large zoom lens and I am sure I would have felt very different as I went looking for suitable subjects.

Once again the kit lens stayed in the bag and I switched between three primes lenses. 12mm, 20mm and 45mm which equate to 24mm, 40mm and 90mm if using a full frame 35mm sensor.

All the photographs were taken in RAW with an Olympus OMD EM5, imported into Lightroom and converted into black and white using Silver Efex Pro2. I have to say that Silver Efex Pro is a joy to use when converting images to monchrome. The contrast and structure adjustments can really bring the image to life, increasing tonal range and texture. I am still very much learning about black and white but for me there is a certain something about the results which pleases me.

Unusual bench seating along the promenade
Olympus EM5 12mm 1/160 f11 ISO 200

Bench seating along the seafront

Well wrapped up, to see what’s on and where to go
Olympus EM5 45mm 1/400 f8 ISO 200

What's on in Littlehampton

Simple pleasures
Olympus EM5 45mm 1/640 f8 ISO 200

Simple pleasures

Cycling along the promenade
Olympus EM5 20mm 1/500 f8 ISO 200

Cycling along the promendade

An extraordinary piece of design – it is in fact the East Beach Cafe
Olympus EM5 12mm 1/320 f8 ISO 200

East beach cafe

I think the image says it all really.
Olympus EM5 12mm 1/640 f7.1 ISO 200

I can take a ride all by myself

Littlehampton pier – but where are the people?
Olympus EM5 12mm 1/320 f11 ISO 200

Littlehampton pier

“If we hurry I’m sure we’ll catch the train!”
Olympus EM5 45mm 1/400 f7.1 ISO 200

If we hurry I'm sure we can catch the train

Ready and waiting……..
Olympus EM5 20mm 1/320 f8 ISO 200

Ready and waiting

Scooting along the seafront
Olympus EM5 45mm 1/640 f8 ISO 200

A ride along the seafront

All the fun of the fair
Olympus EM5 12mm 1/100 f22 ISO 200

All the fun of the fair

Quite simply … a buggy on the beach
Olympus EM5 20mm 1/640 f8 ISO 200

Buggy on the beach