Saturday, 3 September 2011

The big pink ten!

Our sunset shoot is going to be a cluster of infamously photogenic stones at Kimmeridge. Our plan was to get there way before the sun was thinking of removing its hat and book the best tripod vantage points as space is limited. This turned out to be a wise decision as sunset approached other photographers arrived and loitered at the edge of the water hoping we’d just leave. But we didn't. We were on a mission.

The plan was to experiment with the magical ten stop filters in conjunction with neutral density grads (as the sky is invariably at least two stops lighter than the mid point (the sea or a handy rock). To make their mystical powers you need to pile in the filters and sloooow down the shutter speed, the challenge I have is 69 seconds is the maximum shutter speed my camera can muster and the desire to get the “milky water” can tend to make my photographs a little dark.

I managed to get the beloved by the landscape photography images in magazines - the smooth creamy sea And I discovered that my filters have a tendency to colour cast, luckily I like pink!


On the inside

After a full English breakfast we tried to sleep for a few hours. Helen had heard of a possible new location for us exercising those ten stop filters tomorrow so was way too excited to even try to sleep and went off for a rece. After managing to grab a few hours and recharging our batteries both ours and the camera’s we headed off for the Ghost village of Tyneham. When the sun is too high for our milky water shots Helen reverts to what she calls “inside landscapes”. Here we still slow things down by using our tripods but look for those little details for context. We have an old church, with a dilapidated organ and old school room with coat hooks and ink wells and the grounds to explore.

After finishing with some composition exercises after which my camera got the nickname “little red” we head off to chill and compare photos.


A sunrise, a ship and seaweed

My diary is seemingly stuffed with opportunities to weld my camera and it has made me yearn to learn some new techniques. I'm in Paris in a couple of weeks, followed by Croatia and then New York. And last week I was enjoying our little bank holiday photography trip to Cambridge, though to be fair the photography got pretty much superseded by drinking. I'd been toying with a coastal workshop and Helen Rushton’s See Life Through the Lens seemed the perfect choice. I’d seen a “reader improve my skills” piece in the June edition of Digital Photographer and I was definitely impressed with the images from the reader. Perhaps I could get a bit of that!

We chatted on the phone about how much I love hiking (not) and how I could get to Swanage when British Rail seem to stop their service, have a train-less gap and then a steam train kicks in to take you to the coast. Really? I love a steam train but as a vehicle for getting myself and my luggage from A to B it seemed far from efficient. Helen kindly suggested picking me up half way and a plan was formed. The plan is two dawn and two dusk shoots, which of course me an incredibly early start - yay!

On arrival last night I met the other two photographers (one had come from Australia, but not JUST for the workshop) and we settled down to pub dinner and some instruction in the fine art of neutral density filters and the lure of the ten stop. I'd furnished myself with this mythical filter (Lee don't do ones to fit my camera so I had gone for a Heliopan circular one, but I had no idea how to put it to use.

Just in case you're wondering where 'that' came from, to give Helen a shock I slipped in a graduated orange filter, just to er 'enhance' the sunrise a little. 

We assembled pre-dawn, really it’s still very much night but we want to have our tripods ready and waiting before the first glimmer of a sunlight tendril colours the sky. Helen had chosen a nice easy location for us, a nice flat beach with no slippery rocks to inevitably fall off. Sadly I was too sleep deprived to recall the location but I could always ask the ship that was there IN EVERY SINGLE PHOTOGRAPH!

Mother nature had been doing a little decorating so the foreground was strewn with ugly seaweed (and yes, there is pretty seaweed but this wasn't it) so some of my perfect compositions were besmirched that dark sludge. Helen explained that she's not adverse to a little gardening, relocating an errant branch or piece of litter but clearing a whole beach is really out of the question. As is slaving over a hot Photoshop is definitely not what this workshop is about, the clue is in the name “see life through the lens” see?