CHALLENGE 3: SUNSET
No photography trip to the coast would be complete without a classic sunset shot, and that was exactly what we were aiming for. And with the pier per fectly positioned for a setting sun this was going to be the focal point of Tony’s third and final image. At this point the waves were still quite ferocious and the tide was as high as it was going to get, so we had to set up fairly close to the sea defences to avoid getting wet.
The clouds that had greeted us when we’ d arrived had all but gone so we knew sunset wasn’t going to be classic with lot s of interest above. However, the sk y was glowing a beautiful orange hue and warm light was catching the other side of the pier, creating a backlit ef fect. The light s on the pier weren’t on yet, but it wouldn’t be too long until they appeared, which makes the pier really stand out as the sun sets.
Tony framed up and initially began shooting with his Big Stopper on the lens, along with an ND grad. Luckily the Liveview of his Canon EOS 6D can still ‘ see’ through a ten- stop ND filter, which makes it easy to drop a grad into position. He fired of f a few frames but with light levels dropping fast it wasn't long before exposure times extended into minutes. Tony abor ted the Big Stopper and enjoyed the naturally long exposures that the low light levels of fered.
The first composition was a little untidy and included a crossover point on the groyne. The waves were al so creating a lot of foam that was building up at the edge of the tide and didn’t look prett y. Tony realised the composition wasn’t working so moved to the edge of the tide to cut out the foam forming slightly fur ther up the beach. It really didn’t look great and created an unnecessar y distraction.
In this new position Tony’s first shot incorporated nothing but blurred water in the foreground, which looked fantastic. But he realised that if he moved back just a little and timed his exposure carefully, he would be able to use the large pebbles on the beach as foreground interest. It took a few attempts to get the shot he was aiming for, but the result was fantastic with the pebble beach clearly visible and the blurred wash of water graduating in densit y from the edge of the tide and back to the sea.
Tony’s final image was taken at 10pm, when it was dark and there was just a hint of colour lef t in the sk y, so it ’s essentially a night shot. He was impressed by the length of the exposure and how this was possible without the need for an ND filter to lengthen exposure time.
1) The duo wait for the pier lights to be switched on. 2) Which one to pick… Tony makes his filter selection. 3) Tony lines up his ND grad filter to hold back the exposure on the sky. 4) James is on hand for advice, but Tony is in his element now. 5) Tony moved back slightly to include the pebble beach as foreground interest – a great finish to a fantastic day!