Monday, 21 April 2014

Catching a Wave

A dull, overcast day is not ideal for wildlife photography but for landscape/seascapes the flat, diffused light can be good especially for using the long exposures.  Today was forecast was to be overcast until mid afternoon and with perfect tidal conditions (high tide on the going out), I packed light with just my 5D camera, a wide and short zoom lens, a ND graduated filter, 1 stop ND and 10 stop ND filter and headed to the coast.

I specifically wanted to make the most of this grey, flat lighting with the 10 stop ND filter which combined, can give some nice effects though it’s not to everyone's taste I know.


When I arrived on location the tide had just turned and the waves were still crashing against the beach and the coastal defences, still I felt brave and found a reasonably sheltered location on the beach and set my camera up.  I managed to take two shots of which neither I was happy with – the better one above – before my nerves failed me.  The image below taken with my camera phone, gives an example of the waves hitting the shore close by while the main camera was taking the above image.  This was happening on both sides and I was more worried about the spray that was hitting around my camera which isn’t water resistant in any way, especially salt water.  The main image makes the scene look calm and tranquil and belies the reality of the situation.


I decided to walk up along the beach looking for any other photo opportunities but, and I don’t say this often, unfortunately the sun started coming out and as the clouds started to disappear, so did the chances of achieving the shots I had hoped for.  I did stop off on a few occasions to take some shots right at the waters edge.  The idea of doing this kind of photography when the tide is going out is, at least theoretically, the waves coming in aren’t as strong as if the tide was coming in.  However, every now and then you do get one big wave which of course did happen.

I left my camera bag and filters out scattered at a place further up and moved down with my camera to take some ‘close ups’ of the waves coming in.  When you’re looking through a wide angle lens, everything looks much further away and one wave came quickly towards me and I just managed to get out of the way in time, only to see my bag further up get hit and the back wash made off with my filters though luckily not out to sea.  Luckily too, my bag was closed so the other lens was kept dry.

The final two images were taken at the end of the morning by which time the sun was quite strong, so despite the 10 stop ND filter enabling me to create exposures of over a minute and a half, the brightness and reflections ruined the mood I was hoping to create.


Ironically, the last four times I have been to this location with the plan to photograph waders and under perfect conditions, there has been none.  Today, without any long lens at hand, the beach was full of Turnstones and Dunlins!

Despite the lack of any real success, I’m still pleasantly surprised by the Canon 5D which I have had now for over 6 years and still produces great images.  You read in the various online forums that the cheapest full frame camera is over £1000 but they don’t take into account second hand. Both this and the MkII I have seen sold at £350 and £800 respectively.