Captivated by the sea

The coast of California has long been on my list of places to visit. I had the opportunity to do just that last spring. A family trip took us to San Diego where we were able to see some friends and take in some of the sites. Each evening, we spent some time at one of the many places you could sit and enjoy the setting sun. The experience of the warm light on the landscape, the soothing sound of the crashing waves and the warm breeze of the ocean was truly amazing. There are so many places to see along this coast it is hard to decide where to go first. My favorite of the trip was Sunset Cliffs. The coastline is a harsh volcanic looking rocky environment that has been battered and shaped by the Pacific Ocean. The tide determines how far out you can venture onto the rocky surface. Watching the waves crash back and forth is something I could do for hours seemingly slipping into a trance. When going out onto these rocks, you have to be extremely careful to not get too close to the edge. At any time a large wave could come up and knock you over or sweep you out to sea – a lesson that I learned the hard way on my way back to the stairs at Sunset Cliffs. After the sun has set – don’t pack up your gear right away. Stay a bit and watch the light change. You can continue to shoot and capture an entirely different feel. When shooting images of the coast, a tripod, remote shutter release and a polarizer is a must. I prefer to use an exposure that will help accentuate the movement of the sea. Depending on the strength of the tide, this can be anywhere from 1/15 of a second to several seconds with an aperture of at least F/11. If need be, I will use a Neutral Density filter to help extend my shutter speed.

If you have the opportunity to visit the San Diego area, make sure your agenda includes visiting one of these areas to experience the beauty and power of the sea. Thanks for taking a look and hope you enjoy…

Warm light blankets the coast, Sunset Cliffs Natural Point, San Diego, CA © Rob Loughrey
Warm light blankets the coast, Sunset Cliffs Natural Point, San Diego, CA © Rob Loughrey
Blue hour - Sunset Cliffs Natural Point, San Diego, CA © Rob Loughrey
Blue hour – Sunset Cliffs Natural Point, San Diego, CA © Rob Loughrey

Using ND Filters

Recently I was asked about how I achieve the ethereal look to my images of seascapes or waterfalls so I decide to post some information about it. Almost always I prefer this look over having a stopped action shot of the waves crashing in. I tend to use two different methods to create these images. It is very dependent on the ambient light at the location. A tripod is a must for this type of photography. You will also need a cable release. Either a wireless or wired connection. Your camera will also need to operate in bulb mode. This is where you lock open your shutter for as long as you like. Consult your owners manual to confirm that you have a bulb mode on your camera. I will normally take a meter reading from the sky, about midway between the horizon and directly overhead. This gives me my initial meter reading to start from. I adjust my aperture and/or ISO on the camera to give me a 20 sec exposure to start. I snap a 20 sec exposure and review it on my cameras LCD display. I make adjustments as needed to get the proper exposure. After I review the image, I decide if I need a much longer exposure or not. Sometimes I shoot images at 2 and 4 minutes using a 5 or 10 stop ND filter. This really makes the clouds blur and gives a real ghostly feel to the water. Another technique if you have access to Photoshop software is to take 8-15 20 or 30 second shots of the exact same scene, and then stack them together in Photoshop as one file. If you would like more info on how to do this, drop me an email and I will be happy to elaborate. These shots are from a recent trip to Jekyll Island. A 2 minute exposure with a Singh-Ray 5 stop ND filter and Singh-Ray 2 stop Grad ND. I took both a portrait and landscape mode image.
Driftwood Beach at twilight - Jekyll Island State Park, GA © Rob Loughrey

 

Driftwood Beach at twilight - Jekyll Island State Park, GA © Rob Loughrey