Posts tagged ‘seascape’

Question – How simple can it be?

Answer – Not as simple as the title of this post would suggest.

When composing an image I have often read: ‘It’s not what you include, it’s what you choose to leave out’. Just think about that for a moment. It’s certainly worth having that thought in mind when you are framing your next shot.

I have always been drawn to simple compositions. A complicated image with many elements can be a challenge to appreciate, there can be just too much going on. The emotional reaction to a busy image can be one of excitement or tension, whereas an image with simplicity at its heart can be quite the reverse, being both quiet and restful. But even with a ‘simple’ image there are still choices to be made, so I thought it would be interesting to analyse the four photographs in this post. They all share the same viewpoint and were taken during the blue hour after the sun had set.

The composition of first image which is shown below is split into three broadly equal parts. The upper third being the sky, the middle third the sea, and the lower third the movement of the lapping tide where it meets the shingle shoreline. In essence a very starightforward composition.

In the second image I have stepped back from the shoreline so the bottom section has less detail. The horizon now intersects the midde of the frame revealing more of the sky. And lastly the exposure time was longer than the first image, which has resulted in less texture in the water. In my view this is now a simplified version of an already fairly simple image.

The third image shares much in common with the second. The horizon still splits the frame in two, the exposure time was about the same, but crucially the shoreline has been left out. Instead of three main elements there are now just two; the sky and the sea. A further simplification but as a consequnce you might now ask yourself the question whether this was taken from dry land or out at sea. Not only is this third image simpler than the previous two versions, it evokes a very different feeling.

In the third image you might have also noticed that I did adjust the colour balance, but what happens if all colour is removed and the photograph becomes monochrome? Again it’s a further simplification of the scene. There is little or no detail in the sky and the juxtaposition of warm and cool tones (above) has also been lost.

It is not for me to say which is best or which one I like best, they all have their merits in my opinion. However I hope they illustrate the point I wanted to make in this post. What might at first glance appear to be a simple scene, the photographer is still required to make a number of decisions. What to leave in and what to leave out. How fast or slow should the shutter speed be. Where does the horizon line sit in the frame. What colour balance should be used or should all colour be removed. Some of these choices can be made in post production, others must be made before the shutter is pressed. Undeniably though each of these choices will have an impact on the final image; how it feels and the emotional impact it has on the viewer.

As an aside the last photograph in the series was inspired by the work of the Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto. It also just happens to be my most ‘liked’ photograph on my Instagram account.

Arguably it is the most simple composition I have ever posted – so is simple, simply the best?

A return to a favourite location – to find a feeling of calm and stillness.

Much has been written in recent times about how the combination of photography and mindfulness can be beneficial to your mental wellbeing. Simply being out in the open, experiencing nature and witnessing the marvel of the created world has to be good for the soul. Most people worry and are anxious from time to time without actually suffering from a mental illness, myself included.

As well as taking regular exercise for your physical fitness, I recognise that doing things which specifically help your mental wellbeing are just as important, perhaps even more so given the world in which we live right now. So whilst stress and anxiety are not really a big issue for me, we can all benefit from being creative in a beautiful location and in so doing capturing a few special moments with a camera.

A few weeks ago I returned to one of my favourite places. East Head at West Wittering on the West Sussex coast. Probably one of the finest stretches of sand along the south coast and often listed in ‘Britain’s Best Beaches’. More often than not I am there with my wife and our dog early in the morning. On this occasion I went there on my own for a couple of hours not to walk but to photograph. I chose one particular spot, and then observed the tide receding and captured the setting sun. Because of the fading light and a desire to smooth the water all of the images you see here were long exposures which of course required the use of a tripod. This in itself forced me to slow down.

With no pressure on my time I could relax and concentrate on what I was doing. Whilst waiting for the light to change I simply stopped and watched the sun work its magic in the sky. Any worrying thoughts I had were lifted; as there was no space in my mind for anything other than photography and the scenery around me. Just ‘being in the moment’ to coin a phrase. Photographing sunsets is something of a cliche, but does that matter? Not in my opinion when the benefits are so tangible.

It has been a while since I last updated this blog and I am pleased to have another three or four entries to compose and publish soon. All of which will feature colour photographs as this seems to be the path I am following for now. I am also aware that I need to spend some time updating this website generally to reflect this change of direction. There are also a number of camera and processing techniques which I have yet to try – for example, focus stacking and exposure blending. Nothing new or original, just something I have never done before, so when I do I will endeavour to write about my experiences and share some images.

For now though I will simply leave you with this summary. If you are a creative (it doesn’t have to be photography), then put aside some time in your diary, head out to a favourite location and turn off your phone. Try and relax and take a few deep breaths, whilst you experience and appreciate the beauty that surrounds you, And perhaps for the time you are there some of your worries will ease, as a feeling of calm and stillness prevails.

The Isle of Harris – All things bright and beautiful……

…. all vistas great and small. Yes, I know I have changed one of the words but I have done so for a particular reason.

This blog has been very quiet for the past month. Quite simply I have been away and taken a break from Social Media generally, including a self-imposed news blackout because it’s all just too depressing. How refreshing these decisions proved to be, but that’s a story for another day.

My wife and I have been in Scotland visiting The Outer Hebrides and staying on the Isles of Harris and Lewis, which neither of us have ever had the good fortune to experience before. These islands are stunningly beautiful and dramatic. It is almost impossible not to utter ‘wow’ as great views are likely to greet you at every turn.

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First light at Ringstead Bay – a new beginning

Photographically speaking I do not feel this year has been that productive. I have been thinking a lot about the future direction of my photography but not been making many new images.

In the past I would have regularly slung a camera over my shoulder or taken one out in a small bag in the hope that something might grab my attention. In recent months  I haven’t bothered to do so and I know I have missed some opportunities. However if the creative juices aren’t flowing then I don’t believe that you can force the issue. If you are not in the right frame of mind then perhaps a break is required in the hope that given time the desire to make new images returns.

The picture in this post gives me some encouragement. It was captured last week as my wife and I took our dog for an early morning walk at Ringstead Bay in Dorset. I had a camera with me, a Sony RX100. A compact camera which I very much enjoy using when I remember to pick it up before I go out!

I didn’t see much to photograph apart from the morning light shining on the mobile homes which overlook the bay. The sky was dark but on the horizon lay the prospect of a brighter day. When I took the shot I immediatley knew how the final image might look. I have not experienced that feeling for quite a while.

A metaphor possibly for a return to a more creative period? I do hope so……

Three very different views of the Jurassic Coast

Jurassic Coast-3

Charmouth – Reflections of Light

Apart from my home county of West Sussex there are two other places I most like to visit. Top of the list is Scotland. Unfortunately it’s the best part of 400 miles just to cross the border, let alone reach the Highlands; not to mention the journey time by car of at least 6 hours and that doesn’t include hold ups or any stops. It’s therefore not very practical to go there on a regular basis.

Much closer to home is the county of Dorset and my wife and I are regular visitors. It offers a wonderful combination of varied countryside and a truly majestic coastline – or in other words The Jurassic Coast, which has been a World Heritage Site since 2001.

Photographic opportunities are in abundance. Here are just three images from our most recent visit to the area.

Jurassic Coast-2

Charmouth – Towards Golden Cap

Jurassic Coast

Jurassic Clifftops from White Nothe

Spectacular scenery and in many ways a more than adequate substitute for Scotland……and I can get there and back in one day, very comfortably!

Here are links to a few other posts which feature Dorset.

Portland Bill Lighthouse with the Leica M9-P

Colour of light on The Jurassic Coast

Alone on The Cobb