Ko Samui – Part Two

On a day exploring the island we were lucky enough to stumble across this Chinese New Year festival, near Lamai Beach. On the south you can find palm fringed, unspoilt beaches like this one, with a relaxed tropical atmosphere. Back … Continue reading

Ko Samui, Thailand

From Bangkok I made the misguided decision to travel to the Island of Ko Samui with Air Asia, this involved an arduous coach and ferry journey because the flight only takes you south, landing on the mainland in Surat Thani … Continue reading

A few days on the Cornish Coast

Last December I took a friend down to see the rugged beauty of the Cornish coast. As well the chance to show an American this stunning part of the world it was also an opportunity to see how my new … Continue reading

Kimmeridge Dusk

Kimmeridge, Dorset, England

Kimmeridge, Dorset, England

5 Secs at F20, iso100, 40mm on a 24-70 Nikon

Sunset at Kimmeridge in the winter months is a popular spot for Dorset’s booming populace of landscape photographers. I shot it many times when I was still based in the county but I’d never got anything of this view looking west up the coast I was satisified with.

Some free time in my hometown earlier this year gave me the opportunity to achieve the shot I’d always wanted, the weather was looking changeable – always worth heading out on these klind of days. Being a weekday and an early sunset meant I wouldn’t be battling for tripod space with hordes of other photographers, just a few surfers returning from the water for company. I set up further back from the shore than I’d usually be because I wanted to work a longer focal length and bring the distant horizon and cliffs into the frame. (Also meant the camera didn’t get its usual salt wash!), filters – easy – we’re going with a Neutral Density Graduated Lee 0.9 to hold back the sky and an 6 Stop ND to give the long exposure blurring the water. Got this frame just before the sun came under the cloud and got too strong to handle.

5 Secs at F20, iso100, 52mm on a 24-70 Nikon

The game pauses for 20 minutes while the sun moves through that gap, when it gets back to those low clouds just above the horizon we can shoot again, the clouds are blocking enough of it. Same sort of exposure and filter setup as before, this time I’m showing more of the cliffs on the right side, liking the strong cloud lineup and the diagonals from the rocks leading out into the water. With this kind of shoot the sun is moving fast and the light changing all the time – you need to know where you’re shooting from and stick with it, there isn’t time to be moving or fiddling with equipment.

The sun drops lower and I opt for a wider view, including more of the foreground rocks and shore, I don’t want to go too wide here as the rocks are so dark that they may have little interest in the final composition. However the geology close to the water is getting splashed and the reflections are picking up hints of the sunset above so they’re gonna work nicely. Same sort of filter and exposure setup, watch the highlights / histogram – just a tiny bit flashing around the sun, thats OK we can pull that back later. Job done..

Icebergs in Iceland

Jokulsarlon, South Iceland, Northern Europe

Jokulsarlon, South Iceland, Northern Europe

Nikon D700, 24-70 at 48mm, f10, 1 sec, ISO100, 6 Stop Neutral Density Filter, 0.6 Hard Grad

This was shot on the landscape photography workshop I ran in Iceland last year, Two points to talk about

1 – Landscape photography is not all about wideangle lenses, these days I seem to be reaching for the 17-35mm less and less, I remember when I first got it (2003 probably), I would always turn up at location and put it on by default. As you zoom out looking through the viewfinder you see the whole scene coming into view, anything different from our eyes 50mm perspective seems exciting. When shooting at 20mm you are making to a decision to emphasize foreground and do the opposite to background / distance. If you’ve ever shot on the beach at Durdle Door you might know what I mean.

Shooting at 48mm on this beach in Iceland I didn’t want to seperate the main iceberg from the others in the composition, also I couldn’t do this with the wideangle because I would have got soaked by that incoming tide!

2 – Secondly if I hadn’t been running the workshop (and told the clients the previous evening we were going out) I might well have looked at that sky and stayed in bed, it looks worse than unpromising, but actually the moodiness and foreboding clouds were perfect for this shot, this wouldn’t have worked with a clear bright dawn. Its a good example of how its always worth getting out of bed and getting out there. When you’re abroad and you know you might never be there again its always easier to motivate yourself isn’t it?

Jokulsarlon, South Iceland, Northern Europe

Jokulsarlon, South Iceland, Northern Europe

Nikon D700, 24-70 at 66mm, f11, 1/40th, ISO100

Shooting this at 66mm compressed the perspective and allowed me to show the distant cliff face, which the low sidelighting was bringing out.

Landscape photography is all about decision making, when you see successful shots you imagine it was simply a case of turning up and pressing the button but there is always so much more to it. On this evening shoot at Jokulsarlon we had to decide whether to find the best angle for sunset and any potential colours to the west or head in the other direction and hope for strong light breaking through on this north easterly view.

With so many icebergs in that lagoon it was all about finding an interesting shape to anchor the composition. When you first get to an epic location like this there can be a tendency to be a little overwhelmed by the overall beauty of it and to just point the camera at everything, thinking it will turn into a great shot. I’d shot Jokulsarlon the previous year and a lesson learnt from those experiences was to to find the most dynamic icebergs for the shot. A ‘banging sky’ always helps…

Happy shooting