Monthly Archives: January 2012

Rotherslade Bay, Gower Peninsula on a grey day

I hadn’t managed to make any images recently with the demands of computer work, emails and phone calls. The weather hadn’t been that interesting when I had a few minutes spare, but I finally managed an hour or so last week to get out and about. In this situation it would have been easy to slip off to my usual go to bay of Caswell. But wanting a change I visited Rotherslade, which I realised I hadn’t photographed since I had started using a digital camera way back in 2004/05.

I knew setting off that I would be making the images in black and white due to the lack of directional light and low, grey cloud. Exposure would be relatively long with the low light levels, but as usual I wanted to avoid the really long exposures I’m not fond of. Luckily there seemed to be more light bouncing around than I originally thought, which meant that most of my exposures were about the  1 second mark. At this shutter speed I find that there is still enough definition of details in the moving object, but enough blur to suggest movement.

I’m often asked on my courses the best technique to photograph waves. I confuse most clients with the reply – use your motor drive. Taking photos of wave motion, especially with longer exposures makes it difficult to previsualise the results, so it turns into a numbers game. The longer exposures allow you to come out of mirror lock up mode which I normally advocate using for slow shutter speeds between 1/15 and 1/2 a second. This then in turn allows the motor drive to be activated. I combine this with a cable release and blocking off of the viewfinder, to allow me to stand back and watch the waves and their approach. I may pick out markers in the foreground that I know the wave must reach before I fire the shutter to stop me ending up with too many files that I would just delete later.

I hadn’t seen the swirl of the wave motion in the picture above and only noticed it in a series of images on the computer. The image changed considerably within a few frames; too much white waves being too distracting, but no white detail proved too plain.

I know some people don’t like these type of images. They are fairly nondescript and don’t have any tell tale signs of the location making them anonymous and could be from anywhere. Not everybody has an iconic location on their doorstep and the challenge of making beautiful pictures in a location not so well known is far more interesting and less prone to cliche than the classic, iconic view. Check out Joe Cornish and his photographs of Roseberry Topping close to his home.

Brandy Cove, Gower Peninsula

I’m sure I have been called a square in my time, but photographically it is always a format I have liked. I enjoyed and still continue to enjoy the square format in film, so when I came across this boulder at Brandy Cove and struggled to get a clear background to emphasise the boulder with my DSLR, I realised that cropping to a square would help the compositional balance as well as getting rid of the distracting background elements.

I tried to get my timing correct for making the image, as I didn’t want too much water flowing through the image, but needed some to fill in between the boulders. I’m not a great fan of really long exposureswith water as I like to have some detail in it, so it took a few goes to get the correct amount of water in the image. The shutter speed was dictated by the grey, overcast weather and was about 1 1/2 seconds @ F16 at ISO 200. This gave a sense of motion but retained the detail. If it had been any slower I would have increased the ISO to try and get the exposure around one second.

Brandy Cove has some great rock patterns and boulders, which compared to other Gower beaches, is quite different. Others have a mixture of sand and pebbles or just sand. One of my other reasons to visit was to test out my new Tascam DR-680 multi track audio recorder. This is allowing me to start 4 channel surround sound recording for some future projects. Unfortunately I can’t post the surround sound recording on the blog, but a stereo mix version is posted below.

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I tried a few more images of the boulder as the tide came in. The images have a different feel with the increased water levels, even though the exposure times had to be a bit longer as well. At the moment I prefer the first, but who knows over time the second image may grow on me.