If there’s one location that seems to always deliver great light, it’s the coast. There’s something almost magical about the quality of light there. If the weather is good and the time of day right, you’re likely to get great light. This image I shot at Formby is no exception.
Formby can be a very challenging location to photograph. For a start, the beach is completely flat and largely featureless. For interest, you need to focus your attention on the streams, gullies and sand patterns of the beach. It’s true that it has great sand dunes, but these are equally as challenging in other ways.
For me, the best time to visit this beach is for sunset as it’s facing west. Although I’m not a fan of shooting into the sun at sunset, I like the colour it produces once the sun dips below the horizon. If there’s high cloud in the sky it can produce a magical sunset and if the sky is clear you can still get great colours.
But what’s really made a difference in this shot is that the tide has turned and is on its way out. When this happens, it leaves the sand ripples filled with water. It also leaves the surface of the beach free from footprints and more importantly, wet. Wet sand acts as a huge mirror, reflecting and intensifying the light from the sky. When you can bring together a sunset/sunrise and receding tide, that’s the best time to shoot a beach.
I used a Fuji X-T3 to capture the image with Fuji 16-80 at 25mm. The camera was set to ISO160 and aperture f/14.0 giving a 1” shutter speed. Although there’s a lot of reflected light on the beach I still used a 0.9 Soft ND Grad on the sky. When I removed the grad, the beach appeared too dark, and I like to get the image looking good in camera.
I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.
At the time I didn’t think this image would work. I was certain the conditions were too bright, and the dynamic range of the scene was too high. These were just a couple of the challenges that almost made me not bother taking the image. In the end, I decided to just take the shot and see what I could make of it in post-processing. Boy am I pleased that I did.
If you want to read more about what I learned and see the
starting image, you can read about it in my November newsletter. The newsletter
goes out overnight tonight. If you don’t already receive this, you can
You’ll also be able to read my November newsletter after the
2nd of November on this page.
The image is of Derwentwater in the Lake District, taken near to the landing stage for the boats at Keswick. I used my Fuji X-T3 with the new Fuji 16-60 lens. I shot this handheld and without filters at ISO160 (the base ISO for the Fuji X-T3). This gave a shutter speed of 1/280” at f/11.0.
Post capture processing was in Capture One for the RAW conversion which allowed me to do a lot of the shadow and highlight recovery. I then used Nik Viveza to improve the light after which I softened the image with a faint blur to the highlights.
This week I have another image from my recent break in
Cornwall. I shot this on the same evening as the one I shared last week. The only
difference was that I used a long telephoto lens to capture this image. I must
admit that I was being very lazy and didn’t even move my tripod.
The reason I wanted to share this image is that I used it to illustrate my latest YouTube Video. If you haven’t seen the video, here’s the link. The video demonstrates a great free tool for Luminosity Masking in Photoshop.
This is the best free tool that I’ve found. I would even say that it’s better than some of the premium tools on the market. In fact, it’s so good that I used it extensively in my recent Luminosity Masking course.
If you’re interested in Luminosity Masking, you really should try this tool (I included the details and links in the description below the YouTube video).
If you’re on my mailing list, the Lenscraft August
newsletter goes out overnight.
You can also read all the newsletters on this page of my website. The August issue will appear in the list tomorrow.
The last time I published anything to this blog was the 5th July. Apologies for that but I decided to take a holiday and headed off to Cornwall. The scenery there is spectacular but looking through my images (yes I was still working) everything looks like a stock photo. Nice if you received them on a postcard but you wouldn’t say it was great photography.
I think the problem was that although this was a holiday, I
was still taking photos. And whilst I was taking photos, I was thinking about
how I could use the images. If I’m completely honest with myself, when I took
most of my photos I was thinking about stock usage which raises two interesting
When you shoot stock photography you change your
approach. You approach the scene with a specific mindset that affects your
framing, composition and to some degree what you shoot.
After photographing with this mindset for a
while it becomes difficult to switch to another. This makes it very tricky to
produce creative, innovative and arty shots of the type I really want capture.
Friday Image No.223
The reason I mention the point about getting your mindset right is because of this Friday photo. Having carried a camera with me most of the days, I decided to head out one evening for the sunset. The weather looked promising, so I headed over to Godrevy Lighthouse. I planned my arrival with an hour to scout out the location and find a shot. This should have been plenty of time to find something good.
Actually, it was plenty of time, it’s just that I couldn’t see any great shots. That’s why I ended up with this OK shot rather than something more creative. Yes, it’s nice, but it’s what I class as a typical postcard or calendar shot. My mind was still in the mode of shooting stock photography. I hadn’t given it time to switch over to being innovative which is one of my big problems.
If you’re interested in the technical details of the shot
here they are:
Last week I wrote that I had been out, but I failed to shoot
any usable images. I’ve changed my mind and decided to share this one. It’s not
as I imagined at the time but there is something about the hillside that I like.
What I don’t like is the strong orange of the sky, but then again that was the
scene. It just goes to show that sometimes you need to get some distance from a
shoot before you can appreciate your images. I will probably need to go through
these again in a few weeks once the memory of the evening has faded.
I captured this scene from Derwent Edge in the Peak
District. The body of water you can see is Ladybower reservoir. I haven’t used
any filters but did mount the camera, a Fuji X-T3, on a tripod. The lens is a
Fuji 16-55mm which is super sharp but lacks image stabilisation, making the tripod
essential at times.
I processed the image from a RAW file using Capture One for Fuji (Pro edition). I’ve decided to invest in the Capture One software after being so impressed by the results from the Express version. You can read about my reasons for switching on my website blog.
My latest newsletter is also out if you haven’t seen it. In there I share some tips about avoiding lens flare ruining your images when shooting into the sun. One of the techniques involves shooting two versions of an image and in one of these, you use your finger to block the sun. This removes the lens flare and allows you to merge the two images later. If you would like to see how I’ve just released a YouTube video explaining the technique.
I hope you like the photo and have a great weekend.
In this week’s YouTube video, I shared my favourite Nik Collection filters for editing sunset photos. The image used in the video is the one above, which initially didn’t have obvious clouds and colour. The video demonstrates how you can improve most sunset photos using one of three filters in the Nik Collection.
The adjustments in the video are a little strong to ensure you
can see them, but the techniques and tips are solid. I also used all three
filters on the image which I wouldn’t recommend. One or two of the Nik
Collection filters are all you really need.
Luminar 3 Competition
If you haven’t seen yesterday’s post, do take a moment to read it. I’m giving away a Luminar 3 license which I bought by mistake. Yes, I can be that scatter-brained. The competition’s open until the 30th April 2019 when my wife will draw the winner at random.
Friday Image No. 217
Although I’ve used the Friday Image in my YouTube video, I did want to share it. I shot it last weekend whilst meeting up with a couple of friends that I used to work with. The weather on the day wasn’t quite as forecast. The initial fog quickly burned off (unfortunately) with a clear blue sky replacing it (not a cloudy one). Then, quite quickly, a strong blue haze developed with a few wispy high clouds. The high contrast conditions were terrible for landscape photography, but we persevered.
Towards the end of the day, we grew quite hopeful that we would have a nice sunset. Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be and most of the compositions we had available didn’t work well with the conditions. The only composition that looked slightly interesting was the one you see above. I reasoned that I would be able to improve the sunset and enhance the light on the lake, by editing the photo in Nik. It isn’t a wonderful shot, but it serves a good purpose.
I captured this image a few weeks back now. At the time I wasn’t sure quite how best to process it and to be honest I’m still not sure.
I captured this from Bamford Edge in the Peak District looking across Hope Valley to the cement works. It was a little before sunset and the conditions were quite challenging. Not because they were unpleasant but because the light was so bright. The valley was filling with fog and the low sun was streaking through the clouds. I couldn’t see the image properly on the back of the camera and even using the viewfinder I was struggling.
At the time it looked like the conditions were so bright that they exceeded the cameras dynamic range, even using a three-stop Kase Soft ND Grad filter. I did bracket the shot (with the filter) using five exposures. My thinking was that I would create an exposure blend, but the image above is a single exposure. With some tweaking in Lightroom, I was able to control the exposure enough to create a good base image. Much of the processing was then with Luminosity Masks (using Lumenzia) before converting to black and white using Nik Silver Efex Pro.
I’m probably going to revisit the image when I have more time.