Simon Saunders slows things down to capture the mood and atmosphere of the Northumberland coastline
One reader’s seascape portfolio reviewed, plus your letters shared and answered!
My honeymoon triggered my addiction to photography. It was the reason I bought a new camera about five years ago. The morning that my new gear arrived, I also picked up a magazine that featured a list of projects teaching you how to shoot in manual mode, and explaining aperture, shutter speed, ISO and so on. I was hooked.
I chose Nikon because that’s what my dad always used, but my love for the system has only grown. The outstanding image quality and ease of use of the D810 make it an incredible tool, and I especially like the fact that Nikon has retained the same lens mount through the years, enabling me to find some really old highquality glass that still works on my new camera.
My passion is shooting seascapes and landscapes that include water in some shape or form. I’m satisfied with the results that I’ve produced so far, but there’s still a long way to go and I’m keen to learn more. The area that I think I probably need to improve on is
composition, and in particular finding a different view of a scene that’s been photographed a lot already.
I enter quite a lot of competitions and have noticed that the postprocessing of the images that get shortlisted seems to be quite subtle. This is an area I am focusing on at the moment, but I would love some feedback on my approach. I’d also like some advice on how to make my compositions more eye-catching.
My images are all taken in the North East of England and around the Northumberland coast. I feel very lucky to live in this area, as there is an abundance of very cool and interesting places to shoot. What I was attempting to do with the images here was to not only capture the beauty and the history of the area, but to also use camera techniques to reveal something that the human eye alone can’t see.
Simon, your classic landscapes are a reminder that we can all work out of our local area to achieve great results – although your local spots are to be envied by those who don’t have such photogenic subjects so close to home.
The Black Rocks composite image  is a great long exposure; your 100-second exposure for the clouds means they have become smeared across the sky, while the two-second exposure for the sea retains definition and captures the wispy white lines of the waves as they’re dragged down the beach. With The Coast is Always Changing
, you’ve clearly made the effort to capture the shot at the golden hour
I was attempting to capture the beauty and history of the area, and to use camera techniques to reveal something that the human eye alone can’t see
and have great colour in the sky. The shutter speed of 15 seconds has blurred the water but it’s still a patchy, busy area of the frame. It’s not as clean and slick as the water in Dunstanburgh Sunrise . Faced with the same situation again, it might be interesting to see how the scene looks when captured with a much slower shutter speed: four or five minutes might have resulted in very interesting streaks in the sky.
You mention that you would like help with composition, and to that end we suggest you try to fill your foregrounds with interest. You’re nailing the lighting, but in images  and  your foregrounds are distant and a little flat. Even in image , you could have shot from a lower vantage point, to really make the most of the foreground pebbles. Doing this may have meant including slightly less of the sky in the frame, but that might have actually helped with the overall balance of the composition; as it is, the horizon is a little too central.
You mention that you would like help with composition, and to that end we suggest you try to fill your foregrounds with interest
1 The Black Rocks Nikon D810, 24-120mm f/4, 100 secs, f/9, ISO64 2 The Coast is Always Changing Nikon D810, 24-120mm f/4, 15 secs, f/9, ISO320
3 Dunstanburgh Sunrise Nikon D810, 24-120mm f/4, 30 secs, f/22, ISO64