Blog #2 – Why Shoot Seascapes?
I first became interested in digital landscape photography in late 2012 when I borrowed a family member’s Fuji SLR to photograph some large surf where I live in Newquay, Cornwall, on a day when the surf was particularly big and the rare reef break known as ‘The Cribbar’, was breaking off Towan Headland, half a mile out from Fistral Beach. My interest snowballed from then onwards, and away from surf photography, and in to the realm of landscapes & seascapes.
It was January 2013 when I bought my first digital SLR – a Nikon D3200. The following year I upgraded to D7000 and most recently this year a D800e, along with a move up to Large Format 4 x 5 sheet film camera. For large Format I use a 60’s era Linhoff Technika Mark IV. In terms of digital equipment, you can see the constant is the Nikon brand. I chose a Nikon when starting out purely for the reason there was so much commercial & amateur support for the cameras and lenses in the form of Magazines ( I would recommend N-Photo mag) and Internet material.
So because of this widespread support, for me Nikon was a completely intuitive choice, also nor to mention the giant choice & variety of historic Nikon lenses – compatible with todays modern Nikon DSLR’s purely because Nikon has kept their body F-Mount the same since 1977. If you understand why the importance of spending more money on a great lens that will hold its value & not depreciate over time – you’ll understand the value of the F-Mount compatibility.
Some people prefer to be taught by others and attend courses & seminars – I chose to teach myself purely out of financial need and because I have confidence in my ability. When I got my D3200 and began soaking up all the material I read from the Internet & magazines – the most infectious & satisfying feeling was being able to use your technical knowledge to gain the exact image you want.
In time, I gradually learnt about the technical basics (aperture/ shutter speed/ ISO) and how these can be controlled with the use of aids such as on camera Filters, shutter release cables & tripods. Once I had the basics down and knew what I was doing, I began to pay more attention to composition.
Eventually, once I had a controlled understanding of all these elements along with the dynamic elements involved in seascapes such as tide times & heights, wind direction & speed and cloud cover, I found I simply began creating images that I loved to see. If you shoot what you love, it will be much easier to convey your sense of conviction about the quality of your images to potential clients in the long run. For me, those were images filled with moving water, with the motion of the water explicitly characterized whether that was capturing the momentary spray hitting coastal rocks or long exposures where the sea is completely smoothed out. Another step up from this is time lapse photography – conveying movement over time – providing increased scope for artistic interpretation of a scene. The one thing I quickly learnt about images that interest me, is that if it doesn’t have sea or moving water in it – forget it! Hence why I have to admit I find shooting still landscapes incredibly dull & boring or simply uninteresting. Put simply – I love Cornwall, and I love the coastal environment, and that is my photography in a nutshell; Kernow Seascapes.
If I had once piece of advice to give to any aspiring photographer it would be; shoot what you love, in a defined style of your own. Not everyone will like your images, and some may hate them and they may indeed polarize opinion on ‘love-hate’ basis – but at least they can be recognized as your images.
With the proliferation & reduced cost of digital photography equipment over the past 20 years it has never been easier to get in to & become proficient in almost any type of photography, with the caveat that now most photographers rarely take the time to develop their own style – so in landscapes for example, you can’t tell one 30 second long exposure from another. In time, I came to understand the importance of this point – in a market saturated to breaking point – you have to stand out if you want to become recognized.
Seascapes – since growing up in the seaside town of Lytham St Annes near Blackpool I have always felt drawn to the coast and in the particular lure of the ocean. I thoroughly enjoy being by the sea – or in it, when surfing. For me as a person it is the environment I feel most comfortable with and in.
I moved to Newquay in 2008 and took up surfing immediately – and have never looked back since. Along with outdoor photography, these two activities provide me with a tangible sense of appreciation for the resources of the coastal & marine environment, and to some extent was part of the reason I studied for the Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Resource Management at Cornwall College.
Regards photography – I do consider myself a naturally creative person. A lot of the time, if I’m not doing something like this, I can see it as time wasted – which may explain why I have difficulty relaxing!
The process of photographing seascapes is an addictive one for me. In photography, I find the creative process of image creation highly addictive, from conceptualizing the image you want, knowing where to shoot if from and how to shoot it, waiting for the weather & tide conditions to come together, actually being available on the day the conditions come together and then processing the digital negative in Lightroom or Photoshop. Above all I suppose it is that which keeps me doing it – because you always want to do better than before, to push yourself in terms of your ability & equipment and get the shot that nobody else may be prepared to get – and when you get the results you want – it is highly satisfying to be able to say, “I Photographed that, I created that image – nobody else.”
I shoot all my own original images of Newquay & Cornwall along with scanning large format film slides, printing and mounting all canvases & prints at my home on an Epson large format printer – as such it is this dedication to self-printing & production that has allowed me to earn the ‘Made In Cornwall’ accreditation from Cornwall Council.
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