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Nyman’s woods is a lovely little woodland near Handcross in the north of Sussex. I wanted to visit some woodland for a change of pace and to experiment further with my new Circular Polariser. I really struggled to find compositions that I liked and felt this was more of a test shoot and exploration of the area.

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There is a stunning lake hidden away which produced stunning colours using the polariser but I could not get a composition I felt happy with. It may have been something to do with the angle of the sun at this time of day, although the places where the sun was coming through the trees were a touch inaccessible due to bracken and brambles.

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It was really starting to feel like autumn, and I found some crabapples on the forest floor. You can tell I wasn’t really feeling it as I could have tried to create a still life with this one, but I left it with the already rotten others surrounding it. In the woods was very tiring, especially with the heavy camera equipment. It wasn’t a particularly long walk but it certainly felt like it in comparison to my usual walks up the hill on the South Downs for a stunning sunrise over Sussex. Hillside walking is not easy either but you always know where the end of the walk is, and I got a bit lost in the woods trying to find interesting locations and exciting photographs.

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The way that light played through the trees and illuminates patches of the forest floor was quite beautiful to look at but not impacting enough to create a good photograph. To be honest, I felt that working in woodland is not my forte but of course practice would make perfect… hopefully.

I photographed the West Pier in Brighton using my new Lee Circular Polarising filter in this shoot. A polarising filter enriches colours and reduces reflections and glare from surfaces. These examples show a before and after using the polariser (left without – right with polariser). Polarisers also darken blues in the sky and enrich the colours here too. The exposure time is reduced by a couple of stops.

Left: Without Polariser                     Right: With Polariser


The West Pier is a very popular shooting location and the beach was packed with photographers. The clear sky was going to produce a wonderful sunset and so many people were eager to get a shot of the pier at the optimal time during golden hour. Here’s my main shot using a Grad Filter and the Polariser and another using the Big Stopper to smooth out the water.

West Pier in the evening

West Pier in the Evening, 2015

West Pier in the evening long exposure

West pier in the Evening – Long Exposure, 2015

Moving slightly further along the beach towards the pier, I wanted to find some kind of foreground detail to add something more to the image. I’d specifically gone to the beach at low tide, so this groin was visible in the shallow water.

Groyne in front of the West Pier at low tide

West Pier at Low Tide, 2015

Just as the sun went down, I had a sudden urge to use the boys room and when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go. Considering that there were too many other people photographing as well, it was quite distracting and I prefer the peacefulness of the countryside as I’m sure you can see in my portfolio. I decided to go back along the beach to the restroom and then spotted these men fishing in the post-sunset twilight. It would have been nice if they had actually looked like they were fishing, I think they were just using lines straight off the edge rather than rods.

Fishermen on the groyne after sunset - Hove

The hills over Alfriston were ripe with photo opportunities on this late September morning. All four of these images are still a key part of my portfolio, and I love each image for it’s different qualities. The walk initially started in Alfriston, and I came up a short footpath leading to these cross roads below. The light from the imminent sunrise gave this photo a real glow and I really liked the leading lines the footpaths created, as well as the little signpost placed on a rule of thirds hotspot.

Crossroads South Downs Way Alfriston

Crossroads on the South Downs Way, Alfriston, 2015

Heading to the top of this path, I reconvened where one of my last walks had finished earlier in the month and this field had become lush with green crops. Using a long focal length I wanted to capture just the pattern created by the hill side curves carved by the farm machinery and the texture created by the early morning light.

Field Alfriston

Field, Alfriston, 2015

Further along that same field, the light was casting long shadows and golden colours on the trees in the hedgerow. I’d perhaps like the photo below to have a simpler composition, but after the previous shot, it might feel a bit too similar in contrast. I still used a long focal length to capture it, and you can see the mist forming in the background of the image of the fields.

Tree line early morning Alfriston

Tree line on an early morning, Alfriston, 2015

Finally, as the mist started to rise further, I noticed most of the village of Alfriston had become shrouded in a cool mist as the sun rose further, drawing moisture into the air with it. The spire of the church was prominent over the other buildings and so I went for an unusual central composition here. With most of these photos, I found using the long focal length and the mist really reduced the colour quality of some images, so I had to bump up the saturation  and tones afterwards. I’ve since invested in a polariser, which I used for my next shoot.

Alfriston early morning

Early Morning, Alfriston, 2015

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The Adur river isn’t the most attractive river in the south coast, particularly in the industrialised area around Shoreham. The river silt makes the water very murky and fairly unattractive. It’s always important for me to explore new locations and see what you can find, even if the area isn’t the most renowned location. The light was very good, but the location wasn’t, so these images aren’t my favourites in my portfolio. The image below was the best, and I liked the poles sticking out of the silt and the reflections of light off the wet mud.

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Adur River at low tide, 2015

0002-Misty Morning over Berwick and Alciston

Summer mist is a wondrous phenomenon. I can never decide whether I prefer photos with or without the sunrise. Selecting images for printing and the portfolio is so difficult! I whittle it down to a top 5/10 from a shoot and I’m looking for 1 or 2 great pictures. I don’t think I’ve quite got it here, but I’ll run you through a bit about why some of these come so close and yet are just not quite it.

A shoot almost always starts with a few test shots in preparation for a sunrise happening shortly after, like the photo above. The mist and the field have such a liquid quality to them and it just feels so calming and peaceful, which it really was.

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Misty sunrise over Alciston & Berwick, 2015

Then the sun comes up. Admittedly this composition is slightly different but the light really has transformed this shot, but I can’t decide whether I prefer this or the one above. I’ve gone with this, purely because it feels warmer and more inviting but I think that’s just because I’m scared to take a leap with the previous image.

0007-Misty Morning over Berwick and Alciston

Further along this walk, towards Alfriston, I came to the hillside featured in the images above, but looking down at the line created by the copse/hedge on the hillside. The mist is still quite thick, but the sun comes through slightly to create a bit of contrast, especially in the higher areas. I like this leading line created by the hedge, but not enough to love the image and put it in the portfolio.

0008-Misty Morning over Berwick and Alciston

Coming to the end of my walk, this path would take me down towards Alfriston (you can just see the village church spire in the mist, but it’s difficult to make out). Again, I love leading lines to help take a viewer through an image, but I find this image lacks that something else.

0010-Misty Morning over Berwick and Alciston

And finally this picture. I’ve stared long and hard at this photo, trying to decide if it’s good enough to make the cut for a portfolio. I love the texture and lines in the foreground and the little tree, dead centre in the composition but it’s unfortunately still not enough. This is a quest for something greater (which I later felt I got on my second trip 2 weeks later), and sadly this image didn’t make the cut. What I love about the mist in Sussex is that it gives this milky edge to the photo and the trees and shadows punch through to reveal a pattern that isn’t quite these in normal daylight. I can get easily lost in these kinds of photos staring at the little details of individual trees and fields and I guess that’s sometimes why I struggle to chose the images for portfolios and final printing.

Lines of Benfield Valley

A trip up to Devils Dyke to catch the Sunset over the Fulking Escarpment, a National Trust site on the South Downs. On the way up, there was this great light on the rolling hills to the west of the Devils Dyke road. I’ve named this photo above as Lines over Enfield valley, based on my trusty OS map.

Fulking Escarpment 2

Waiting for the right light is key to getting a good photograph. It’s also very difficult to keep glare off the camera lens when shooting into the sun. I use a technique where you cover the sun in one shot and take another shot and blend the two images together. You can see a video of this in more detail with this really helpful video from Steve Perry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9DggKGiLb8

Fulking Escarpment Detail

Fulking Escarpment Detail, 2015

I sometimes use a 2x extender on my 70-200mm lens, to expand the telephoto focal length to 400mm. This really compresses some of the lines created by hard, low light on the hillside.

Fulking Escarpment Sunset 1

Sunset over Fulking Escarpment, 2015

Here’s the final image, the sunset over the escarpment at the optimal time, around 20 minutes after I arrived and set up the shot. This is again shot using the ‘thumbs down’ technique of covering the sun in one image and blending images together. Just look at that orange glow in the sky!

Fulking Escarpment Dusk

Fulking Escarpment Dusk 2

Here are a few more shots as the sunset continued towards it’s end. The final shot (below) was shot again using the 400mm focal length to enlarge the sun by compressing the landscape as explained above.

Sunset over Steyning

Brighton Wheel at Dawn

Brighton Wheel at Dawn, 2015

This summer shoot of the Brighton Pier and Brighton Wheel were shot around 10 months ago. I try not to photograph the obvious subjects too much, as they’re so overdone, but I enjoy the challenge of trying to make a unique image of something that’s been photographed almost to death.

On the subject of death, sadly, this wheel has been taken down, as it was only contracted for 5 years. You can see the sunrise coming up just over the buildings in the left hand third of the photo. There are also a couple of people just sitting watching it which I thought was a nice detail, but it’s quite hard to pick out unless you have a keen eye. This is shot with an ND hard grad 0.6, which reduces the exposure in the sky by 2 stops, to preserve detail and expose correctly for the beach.

Brighton Pier at dawn on a sunny day

Brighton Pier at Dawn, 2015

I’d decided to shoot some more images of the pier, as the weather the first time around was quite cloudy, and I wanted to see what it looked like when the first light of the morning illuminated the structure from the east. As this was in the summer, the sun actually rises behind the buildings of Brighton, to the north east, so this is about a half hour after that first light. I’ll be revisiting again in the winter in order to try and get that very first light and see who it looks. This shot is taken with the ND Big Stopper, so the exposure is around 4 minutes, to give the water the smooth texture you see above.

 

Firle Beacon after sunrise

Fire Beacon after sunrise, 2015

I was looking to get a great sunrise on the Firle Beacon slopes of the South Downs, as in the summer, the sunrise would hit the north of the downs as it rises to the northeast in summer, whereas in winter it’s in the southeast, usually over the sea. The light was shielded by sporadic clouds, and at one point I suddenly became engulfed in some surprising mist, but the clouds provided interest in the sky for these shots.

Firle Beacon before sunrise

Just before the sunrise, I experimented again with the Big Stopper, reducing the exposure by 10 stops and prolonging it for a few minutes to get the sweeping texture in the sky here. I didn’t like this as much as the left side of the photo seemed dull by comparison.

Landscapes-3

The light really glowed over the reaches of the Sussex/Kent border, and I experimented with a 2x extender to increase the focal length of my 70-200mm lens. The extender doubles the focal length, so this is actually at maximum of 400mm. It’s not that sharp, as it’s better to use a lens with the focal length of 400mm than use an adapter, but I love the layers in the bottom of the image.

Haybails near Firle

Hay bales, 2015

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Using a long focal length compresses the landscape and offers different compositions to really hone in on details and patterns, I liked the texture in the fields and found this odd turret on some farmland, which I presume is part of the Firle/Charleston Estate.

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This shoot was as much about details as it was about the vista of the beacon and valley at Firle. The morning dew twinkled off these summer wildflowers, but I couldn’t quite get the composition right here and will try more of this again later this year. Before the mist rolled onto the hill when I reached the summit, these beautiful clouds rolled over and I went for this simple composition before heading home for a morning smoothie and hot cup of tea.

Fence overlooking Firle Valley

Fence overlooking Firle Valley, 2015

 

Cuckmere Haven

Cuckmere Haven, 2015

At this time of year, Cuckmere Haven is quite busy with people enjoying later summer evening walks before the sunsets. The area is famous for this stunning meander running through the valley towards the sea. It’s officially part of the Seven Sister’s country park, and there’s great car parking and tourist facilities close by. I started from the car park, walking up the eastern slope near the sheep in order to get better view of the river and to get shots of the sun going down as we approached the magic hour.

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I also found this funny black sheep staring straight at me in such a peculiar way. Hello sheep.

Cuckmere Haven Meander

Cuckmere Haven Meander, 2015

Rushing with tripod in hand across the hill, I wanted to catch the sunlight reflecting twice off the water in the meander, before it dipped behind the clouds. Reflecting* on this image afterwards, some HDR work may have helped keep the light and contrast in the shot. There’s only a graduated filter here to help regulate the exposure.

Cuckmere river at sunset

Cuckmere River at Sunset, 2015

When working at sunset, unlike sunrise, you’re battling the time and fading light. This shot, using a Big Stopper filter to slow the exposure time, was very difficult to achieve the correct exposure. The long exposure was used to smooth out the river and create streaked lines in the sky from the cloud movement. I realised mid way through the 16 minute shutter time that the fading light would reduce exposure time even more than I had calculated. The sunset also only lasted about 3 minutes of this exposure. Again, HDR imaging or photo merging through bracketing might have helped get a better image here. I also couldn’t quite get the composition I wanted as the ground was quite boggy.

Walking up to Stamner Down at 5.00am to not get a good photograph can be a frustrating process, but I like to think about it as good practice, a new challenge and the opportunity to scout out new locations for landscape photographs. The main thing missing from these images is the early morning light thatI use to create beautiful landscapes, but when the clouds are there, there’s not a lot you can do.

Practicing composition techniques is a good side activity here, and especially when you’re waiting to see if the clouds might disperse slightly in order to let some stronger light break through.

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I like the curve in the background here, but generally this photo isn’t interesting enough to be a finished piece of work. Stamner Down Hills.

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Again, there are nice lines in these two pictures and with the right light, they could work, but without the contrast of sunlight they are rather flat and boring (I haven’t even really bothered to edit them properly as there just isn’t any point). All is not lost though; when I can plan my shoot again with better weather and at the right time of year, these photos and my accompanying notes (I use a dictaphone on my smartphone to make recordings whilst shooting to refer back to) and perhaps next time there will be a good image here.

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This shoot was at the start of August and the wheat is just coming up at this time of year, and again, with the right lighting, this image could work well. I did get one image I was reasonably happy with (below) but since now I’ve decided to drop it from my portfolio as I’ve collected much better images by comparison since this shoot.

The Ridge, Falmer, 2015

This shoot of Lancing Bather’s Beach was originally scouted out on the back of a previous one, and this particular stretch of beach allowed a vast view at low tide where you could see Brighton in the distance to the East and Worthing pier, not too far to the west. Sadly, I didn’t get the tide timing right, and since then I’ve used a free app to predict the tide times for future low tide projects. The App is called My Tide Times and has been a bit of a godsend ever since I started using it. It can be very dangerous by the coast, so always check the tide and the weather conditions before heading out.

ND filters

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Graduated Filter tests – Top: ND Hard Grad Coral; warm tones in the sky – Bottom: ND Hard Grad 0.6 (2 stop); colder tones in the sky, stronger exposure reduction.

Here’s a couple of test shots experimenting with LEE ND Hard Grad filters. Filters are best used with a level horizon, and you can see the groin changes colour and tone at the top in the test shots. This isn’t desirable, so in this case it might be better to use either a softer grad (these filters have a hard gradient) or opt for a HDR toning technique instead. I’ve got two filters, the top is the coral, which I’ve since used on the bottom half of images to warm up the foreground of some images, particularly for winter sunsets on the downs, and the bottom is the standard ND Grad, which reduces the exposure at the top of the image by two stops, which is great for the controlling exposure in the sky.

 

Landscapes-4 Lancing Bather

Rocks on Lancing Bather’s Beach, 2015

These are much better. The coral filter has been used on a flat horizon to warm up the sky, without affecting any other areas of the picture. The bottom image uses the LEE Big Stopper 10 stop ND filter, which is a full filter to reduce the exposure time by 10 stops. The shutter speed changes from 1/2 second (Top) to 240 seconds – 8 minutes – (Bottom) which has a huge impact on how the sea looks in the picture.

Lancing Bather

Lancing Bather’s Beach, 2015

So using the same techniques and a bit of a different composition I captured this calming photo of the groyne leading into the ocean.

On my way back, I dropped into Shoreham by Sea to have a quick look at the fiery glow the sunset was producing on the clouds. I captured this shot along the Adur river of Lancing college silhouetted against these beautiful clouds.

Lancing College Sunset

I was lucky enough last year to be invited to photograph a wedding at Lake Como in Italy. It’s a really beautiful place, and it’s not surprising that it’s a hot spot for destination weddings. The lake is surrounded with mountains and the small towns dotted around the lake are quaint, pretty and charming.

 

I was there for two nights, so in between shooting the wedding and travelling to and fro from the airport I managed to get a couple of nice shots of the surrounding area. As I was abroad, I didn’t have access to my usual kit, so this work is a little more improvised than my usual shoots. No tripod or filters here, I had to rest the camera on a ledge for the long exposures!! Some photos were shot as part of the wedding shoot, and others were taken whilst I explored the local area.

You can flick through the slideshow above to see pictures of the wedding venue, Villa Balbianello, and the surrounding area or scroll down for my favourites. 0047_Lake_Como_Landscape_Photographs

Mountain in Black and White

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The view from the Villa across the lake

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Storm clouds rolled in on my second night

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The view of a basilica from the roof terrace of my hotel

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Evening view from my hotel roof terrace

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Boats

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Continuing to explore the area of the South Downs between Brighton & Steyning, I took a wander up Truleigh Hill, just along from Devils Dyke and the Fulking Escarpment.

I thought I’d try out my first Panoramic shot, as I haven’t stitched images together in a ,long time. Sadly, this image really lacks subject matter, but I liked the colour of the sky and had nothing to do until the sun came up at around 4.30am.

panorama truleigh hill

I also found a rather interesting old concrete foundation, and I couldn’t quite figure out whether it might have been for an old trough or an old shepherds hut. The pipe sticking out of the concrete intrigued me, and I thought it made for some key point of interest in an otherwise rather barren landscape.

Concrete foundation

Once the sun came up, it wasn’t at all what I expected, and didn’t fall on the landscape in the way I wanted it to. In fact, I couldn’t really find much in terms of subject matter from this particular spot, although there was a youth hostel and radio station on top which was pretty interesting. There wasn’t much for the portfolio on this shoot, but I liked how the light finally broke through and illuminated the hawthorns and the landscape to the west.

View of Steyning from Truleigh Hill Hawthorn Trees at Dawn

 

Hawthorn at Dawn

Hawthorn at dawn, Sussex 2015

Last June, I hiked up Mount Caburn, near Lewes at around 3.30am to catch the sunrise. Though the view from the top wasn’t as good as I had hoped, I still got a couple of shots I really liked.

Glynde Church at Dawn

Glynde Church at dawn, 2015

On the way up the hill during the magic hour before sunrise, I spotted these two small towers inspired by classical architecture. Their silhouette against the colours of the sky created a nice contrast. Sunrise from Mount Caburn - Lewes

Sunrise on Mount Caburn, 2015

Sunrise from Mount Caburn - Lewes 2

At the top it was immensely windy, surprisingly chilly for a June morning and there wasn’t actually that much to see. This was also before I really started to plan where the sunrise would be and plan my shoot accordingly so I was a little lost at the top. I did find some sheep for company, and despite placing my tripod leg in sheep dung and consequently placing my hand on said tripod leg without realising, I did get two nice shots at sunrise with the sheep in the foreground. I decided to take tissues with me on shoots after that.

On the way back down, a bit out of the wind, I also shot the landscape looking toward the East over Glynde village.

Glynde from Mount Caburn

Glynde valley, Sussex, 2015

Glynde from Mount Caburn 2

I finally experimented with the Big Stopped ND filter to reduce the esposure time and get some nice streaky skies with the morning colours.

Ok, This isn’t actually Ditchling Beacon, it’s a hill called Streat Hill, just down from the peak of Ditchling Beacon. The beacon itself is little bland in terms of composition and, although the views are vast, they’re pretty dull.

However, this little walk across the downs to the east is perfect for capturing a Spring sunrise and I wanted to use this path as a leading line to draw the viewer into the photograph.

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View from Ditchling Beacon before sunrise, 2015

Generally, when photographing I try and give myself half an hour before sunrise, to capture the colours before the sun actually peaks over the hills and illuminates the landscape. This hazy band of gold in the sky contrasts nicely with the dark blue still present in the dawn sky. Then the sun rises and it’s so quick, it lasts around 2 minutes until it’s totally up, but when you’re photographing with ISO 100 and an aperture of f22, you can only get a couple of shots due to the slow shutter speed! Strong Graduated ND filters were used to balance the exposure.

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Ditchling Beacon Sunrise, 2015

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Once the sun is up, I start concentrating on details, shapes, lines and patterns in the landscape. The strong contrast helps pick out shapes and really help create an atmosphere in the dawn light. I love the single tree in the field in the middle of the photograph here.

Later I tried just a few other compositions, experimenting amongst the cow parsley but this was less successful, in my opinion, but it’s nice to add an additional foreground subject to the image here.

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I had a good time photographing Steyning Bowl on this sunny morning but I also want to reflect on the fact that it’s important to critique your work in order to improve, as well as scout out locations to find out where the best views are and plan the time of day for the best light. This shoot was all done a bit too late in the morning, but it still proved useful for future shoots. The images are all a bit average and I will be going back to reshoot at a later stage in the year with a better grasp on the sunrise time.

Cows on the hillside

Cows on the Hillside, Steyning 2015

This venture around Steyning bowl was more of a scouting mission for potential photographs. I’ve photographed here before but it still puzzles me of how to get a really good shot here. I’ve mainly been experimenting to try and keep the sun out of the lens and practice further with the Graduated Filters. I’ve also started experimenting using a longer lens (70-200mm) to compress the landscape and focus on the details (above).

Steyning Bowl

This image has some potential, but it’s not quite there both in terms of composition and the lighting. The sun being directly in the lens creates the lensflare, which isn’t helpful in this image. The cow parsley is out though and creates a lovely spring atmosphere.

View from Steyning Round Hill 2

This is Truleigh hill. There are some great lines here and the hazy light creates a unique atmosphere but the image isn’t striking enough.

View from Steyning Round Hill 4

More experiments using the longer lens. I love the way the light hits the land here, but the composition needs a focal point in the image.

View from Steyning Round Hill

I need an even longer lens to zoom in on this misty detail. I love the layers of trees across this plateau but the telephoto isn’t long enough. The irrigated fields provide some great mist in this area north of Steyning.

View from Titch Hill

Around the corner from Steyning bowl there is Annington Hill, which was quite a trek up to the top, but there were nice views, but again there aren’t any focal points in these photos. There were a lot of Skylark birds, which have become pleasant companions on these sunny mornings.

View Near Titch Hill

The leading line in this image works well for me but I still think the image needs a bit more to it.

Sunrise over rape field woodingdean

Sunrise over Rape Fields, Woodingdean 2015

This trip was the first time that I managed to catch a sunrise properly on camera. I’d been out before sunrise a few times, but not quite gotten the hang of how to capture it or what to do. This was shot just as I was on my way to Rottingdean (a small fishing village just on the edge of Brighton’s city limits) and as I drove towards Woodingdean from the A27 the sun started to come up over these fields. I hastily stopped and grabbed the camera, tripod and 0.6 ND Grad to help balance the exposure. The 0.6 Neutral Density Graduated Filter still wasn’t quite enough so I bracketed my exposures a couple of times and merged them in Photoshop using HDR.

I’ve never been a huge fan of HDR images but I’ve recently found a technique I like that doesn’t feel overdone. I’ve also found that combining it with the graduated filters works well.

Groyne 1

Groyne 1, Rottingdean 2015

So onto Rottingdean; what I particularly wanted here were shots of the groynes by the Sea as they’re slightly bigger than the typical ones along Brighton beach. Using the 10 stop ND filter helped smooth out the water for a long exposure. I really liked the way it abstracted images, and thought this obscure composition (below) worked quite well to achieve a really abstract image. I love the touch of light towards the end of the groyne, which just reveals a little detail in an otherwise empty image.

Groyne 2

Groyne 2, Rottingdean 2015

Rottingdean sea defence

Rottingdean Sea Defence, 2015

Standing on the actual groyne (I know you’re really not supposed to!) allowed me to shoot looking back toward the coastal walk beneath the cliffs. Again, I’ve used a 10 stop ND filter to smooth over the water. This shot is ok, but I think it would be better if the sun  wasn’t behind the cliffs, so this may work much better in the winter months, not spring as pictured here.

 

 

 

Brighton pier looking west early morning

Brighton Pier on a cloudy morning, 2015

Two iconic landmarks of the Brighton & Hove seafront. The weather was pretty cloudy so this was perfect weather to test out the Big Stopper ND filter. The filter reduces the exposure by 10 stops, so an exposure of 1/30th becomes 30 seconds and an exposure of 1 second becomes about 16 minutes! This delayed shutter speed, means that you capture different textures in the sky and sea as seen in these images.

Hove Beach Huts early morningHove Beach Huts, 2015

When photographing by the sea, always check the tide times. You can do this online, or I actually have an App for my phone, which is really useful and fairly accurate. It is essential to check the tide times for your shoot in terms of the visual aspects of your land/seascape and for your own safety!

Brighton pier looking east early morning

This 16 minute exposure makes the water as smooth as glass. The exposure is only made possible by using a ND filter to reduce the exposure, and for this I use a Big Stopper 10 stop ND filter.

Here are a few tips that I’ve picked up about the ND filter, some from the Lee filters website and some from my own experiences!

Tips:

  • Calculate exposure by doubling the exposure 10 times on a 10 stop filter. So 1 second goes from: 1 second, 2s, 4s, 8s, 15s, 30s, 1 minute, 2m, 4m, 8m and finally 16 minutes. Note you round down what would be 16 seconds so that you can then double in terms of whole minutes.
  • Allow a bit of extra time too, so on the above calculation I might expose for about 20 minutes, as you lose more through the filter rather than less, so overexpose rather than under expose UNLESS:
  • The light is increasing/decreasing. If shooting at sunrise, bear in mind that the light will be increasing by the minute, so a lot can happen in 10 minutes of exposure so try to adjust your exposure if it’s getting brighter. Equally, if the light is fading, you’ll probably need to allow more time for the exposure to catch a bit more of that light as it gets weaker and weaker with the passing evening.
  • Cover the viewfinder with a black cloth. This prevents any fogging of the image as when the mirror is up exposing, light can get into the image through the viewfinder. I actually use a black lint free glasses cloth as I can stuff it into the viewfinder recess.
  • Use a shutter release cable.
  • Make sure the tripod is as secure as possible. When shooting with a heavy lens, I’ve found the weight slightly moves the camera during exposure so triple check all tripod fastenings are secure.
  • Always ensure the filter is clean before shooting.

 

0002-Devils Dyke - Beeding Hill

This is a new blog adventure for me. I’ve been running a blog on my wedding photography for over 4 years now but I’m  a bit of an amatuer when it comes to landscape photography. I’ve always loved landscape photography, I shot photographs in the lake district in college and in my major at university I took landscape photographs around the M25 orbital motorway. This new blog (and website in fact) is of a different nature though.

For years I’d grappled with the idea of what to photograph for an ‘Art’ project. University was wonderful, and it taught me to take photographs for my own sake, as well as to question, challenge and analyse space and time (which is essentially photography). But I became frustrated trying to grapple with thought provoking work and my commercial work. I’m sorry to say that the latter won, but I’m much happier for it. I want to be a commercial landscape photographer, and with an exhibition around the corner, I sort of am now.

So, last April, I made a decision. I wanted to invest in equipment to make my landscape photographs better and to kick start a new direction for my career. The investment wasn’t cheap (but it was worth it) and so I promised myself that if I was to do this then I’d really have to do it. Go for it. Hit the ground running (or rather trudging up hills and through woods.) I promised that, at least once a week, I would go out and take photographs of a local landscape. Keeping it local allowed it to be an achievable goal for me. So far it’s been roughly 44 weeks and I’ve only managed it 36 times (but I want 4 weeks holiday – thank you Europe – and I did get married this year so needed some extra time off! I’ve also only really found the time to do this in the mornings, as I can get up at say 5am, shoot until around 7.30am (depending on the time of year) and then be home by around 9am ready to start a normal day of work in the office. This was great, as I could do this without it impacting the rest of my work and other professional work has always been preventing me from doing this as I just couldn’t find the time.

Lee Filters foundation Kit & The Big Stopper ND Filter

The equipment I bought was a Lee foundation filter system and a Big stopper ND filter. I needed the filter system to hold the ND filter and to hold other filters I’ve since bought to help control exposure. I wanted the big stopper primarily as I’ve always loved long exposure, and as I also have a few other ideas I want to try with this filter when my landscape photography goes in a new direction. I’m also a bit of an old school photographer and prefer to control my exposure in camera rather than in photoshop, and I’ve never gotten on well with HDR (although I’ve tried it a few times) so filters seemed like a good way for me to go.

So, onto my first (official) shoot with the new equipment. Keeping it local, I decided I’d have a wander up to Devil’s Dyke, north of Brighton in the South Downs National Park. I’d also looked on the map and pinned another location nearby called Beeding Hill. I went out at 6am at around sunrise to get a few shots.

0002-Devils Dyke - Beeding HillThe problem I think I’ve since realised with Devil’s Dyke, is that the angle of the hills doesn’t seem to work in relation to the sun’s position. I was drawn to the lines and curves of the South Downs as subject matter and I love the leading line of the pathway here. In the bottom corner of this shot I’ve picked up some lens flare, so here’s my first lesson, keep the sun off the filters! 0001-Devils Dyke - Beeding HillDevil’s Dyke, 2015

I then went onto Beeding Hill, which is north of Shoreham by Sea. I got my wits scared out of me when a rambler approached me whilst I was busily working in the morning calm and I hadn’t notice him walking behind me! But it was good, there were lots of sheep and I managed to get a few shots of young lambs too. I finally also tried out my big stopper on a Hawthorn tree with some cloud movement in the sky.

0008-Devils Dyke - Beeding Hill

Hawthorn, 2015

Here’s the rest of my shots below. I hope you enjoyed this blog post and if you got to the end past my ramblings, then well done you! Subscribe for my weekly blog posts and for many more tips on Sussex outdoors and landscape photography.

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