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I currently use a Nikon D810 camera Body. This was released by Nikon in 2014. At the time it was a class leading body among 35mm Digital SLR bodies in terms of its 36 mega pixel count, removal of an Optical Low Pass Filter (OLPF), native ISO range of an exceptionally low 64 to 12,800. ISO 64 lets in a two thirds of a stop more light than a comparable 35mm SLR set at ISO 100, and therefore along with the high mega pixel count & removal of an OLPF puts the technical capabilities of the D810 (dynamic range, signal to noise ratio) on a par with some Medium Format bodies worth three times the cost. These reasons, and other functions too numerous to list here, have made the D810 an exceptionally high quality & reliable camera body for shooting seascapes in & around Cornwall. I have chosen to pair the D810 with a Nikon 28mm f/1.8 G prime lens, exclusively. All the images in this book were taken with this combination of camera & lens.

Manfrotto has always been my primary choice for Tripods & Heads simply due to the extremely high product quality, functionality & durability. The MH055M8-Q5 ball head was an easy & intuitive choice for something to mount the camera to; the magnesium casing means it is virtually indestructible. Not only does it hold up well to the elemental challenges (e.g.sea water) that shooting by the coast poses, but also has functions that are highly useful for a landscape photographer (built in vertical & horizontal spirit levels/ bubbles).

Formatt Hitech filters are used exclusively. I find the quality comparable to Lee Filters, with a greater range in the former. For example, I use a 13 stop Firecrest 100 x 100mm square filter to achieve the three minute plus exposure time when shooting. This allows me to create images with the water & cloud motion blur that is a fundamental element to my style, and still shoot with an aperture of either f/8 or f/11, to help maintain both optimal sharpness & focusing. Lee filters do not make a 13 stop filter.

Equipment as follows:

1 – Camera: Nikon D810

2 – Lens: Nikon 28mm F/1.8 G

3 – Tripod: Manfrotto MT 190X Pro4

4 – Ball Head: Manfrotto MH055M8-Q5

5 – Filters:  105mm Polariser

6 – Filter System:  Aluminum Holder

7 – Cable Release: Pixel TW 282 

For seascapes, Matt uses both Medium Format Bodies & Lenses, such as Pentax & Fujifilm, and 35mm Nikon DSLR’s & Lenses. Matt enjoys the versatility of DSLR’s. He favours the Nikon brand for both the quality & variety of their prime lenses. Matt frequently uses Nikon’s full frame, 36 Megapixel Nikon D810 body & Nikon wide-angle prime lenses. Matt also enjoys the Pentax 645z and Fujifilm GFX 50s bodies. With seascape & landscape photography – it is well worth remembering; all the greatest images created in the world of photography were most likely created with equipment less technologically advanced than yours. With that point in mind, and in the clamor of camera manufacturers that want us to part with our hard earned cash in return for more & more megapixels, you should remember; it’s not the equipment that creates the image, but the photographer; the image created is via what you see with your own eyes through the viewfinder. Every time I go out – I know I can rely on my equipment to do the job I need it do and not to let me down, so I can get on with the job in hand of setting up & taking my images. Of course unless you are lucky enough to be a millionaire everyone has a budget to stick to. Buying my D810 second hand body for just over £1,000 in March 2016 I recognized was a good deal (especially as it retailed for over £2,500 upon its release in 2012!!). However to afford it I had to part with other photography gear I loved. So it’s a trade-off – buy what you can afford, look after it and make the best use of it. For seascape photography where you are continually exposed to the elements on a daily/weekly basis, you need equipment that is not only technically superior in its build quality, but is also semi resistant to the corrosive effects of high winds, salt water spray and also rain water. Ergo the phrase applies here; “buy cheap, buy twice.”

I am entirely self taught and although this was a challenge initially, with the North Cornwall coast on my doorstep, I rapidly learnt technical elements such as composition, focusing & the use of Neutral Density (ND) filters.

I have made a conscious effort to limit my subject & style to just Cornwall & seascapes. This focus on subject & style is the foundation of my commercial business. This approach has also allowed me to compile a portfolio which is both cohesive & complementary in style & subject.

Mood & Atmosphere are essential elements of my seascape photography. This often achieved via the use of so called ‘long exposures’ ; images where the shutter speed is anything over one second or more.

Long exposure images blur the motion of any moving object within the frame. This can include Cloud & Water.

Starting to use filters in camera to create long exposures was a watershed moment for me, as I developed a deeper understanding of the process & end result with each shoot, learning the true potential of long exposure photography at these locations.

ND Filters reduce the amount of light entering the entering the sensor. I use a 13 stop ND 100mm Formatt Firecrest Filter. This reduces the amount of light by 13 tops and often requires an exposure time in excess of three minutes.

I am in inspired by the sight of large ocean swells meeting the coast & fast moving cloud. Planning for this requires constant monitoring of apps, such as the Met Office for weather, Magicseaweed for surf & swell, The Photographers Ephemeris for sun positions, and more.

Such conditions allow for explicit motion blur to be clearly & presently obvious to the viewer of the image. These conditions help convey a sense of mood & atmosphere.

Below I have set out in list form, my primary goals to aid development of my self & business over the next 5 years. I have made a conscious effort to ensure these goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, with identifiable targets to monitor progress.

BA Photography (Falmouth) 2019 – 2020

MA Photography (Falmouth) 2020 – 2022

PGCHE Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education 2020 – 2022

Cornwall Landscape Photographers Association; established by 2021

Possibly pursue a career in Academia after completion of MA Degree, in 2022.

Upgrade from 35mm to Medium Format digital camera bodies within four years, by 2022

Learn about Astro-photography & compile a portfolio of 25 images in this style by 2022.

Work towards an Associateship accreditation with the British Institute of Professional Photography, using images in the style of Astro-Photography Star Trails for the assessment, possibly by 2023.

Pursuit of Astro-photography would entail shooting ‘Star-trail’ images at an ultra wide focal length of 14mm – twice the angle of view than the 28mm I currently shoot at. This 14mm focal length would be used to include as much Sky in the scene as is feasibly possible. Please see the page opposite for more information regarding this.

I have an deep interest in Astronomy as well as landscape photography and specifically, Astro-photography. The image below was taken with a Nikon D810 & 14mm ultra wide angle lens. The final image is a composite; it is made of up of over 100 individual images each of a thirty second exposure. These have been blended together using software developed for this purpose, called Star Stax. The ‘layering’ of the separate images in post-processing creates the star trail effect and helps to reduce unwanted background ‘noise’. These types of images are only possible on nights with clear blue skies & no cloud – so opportunities are limited. It is this type of photography which I can a) envisage developing a full portfolio of images, and b) allow me to develop new skills as a photographer.

General Considerations: Working outdoors along the South West Coast Path in Cornwall can often be extremely hazardous. Such an environment can be extremely unforgiving to those who are insufficiently prepared or experienced. I quickly learnt this in 2014 when I started visiting many of the locations I still shoot now. Whenever I go anywhere these days, before leaving the house, I have an equipment and safety checklist that I run through to ensure I have the correct clothing, equipment & communications devices in case of emergency. These are covered in brief below;

Outdoor Clothing: Hiking boots with a hard sole to ensure slip resistance on loose material often found close to cliff edges & vista points. Waterproof Trousers with an inner fleece lining to provide water resistance and warmth (even on a summer’s night). I have learnt how quickly the temperature can drop once the sun goes down, even (or, especially) on a calm summer’s night. Body-warmer mostly adequate all year round at all times of day except winter (providing warmth & is breathable). During Winter, I find a Ski Jacket and fingerless gloves with a mitten ‘flap’ to be highly suitable.

Weather Monitoring: Planned days in advance of a shoot. All elements are accounted for including; sun position/ height & intensity, tidal height & times for low & high water, swell height along with wind speed, direction & cloud types/ cover. This is achieved via use of Met Office Weather, Magicseaweed Surf Report, The Photographers Ephemeris, Sky Fire & more.

The Outdoors: Common sense applies here. Although almost all of my images are taken from what may be considered ‘high risk’ locations in terms of the potential for an accident (Wet Rocks that are slippery, climbing to a high cliff in strong winds; see opposite page for more) I never put myself in a position of unnecessary danger that could potentially result in life changing injuries.

Lone Working: landscape photography is often a highly solitary pursuit. In reference to the Health & Safety concerns above, a ‘best practice’ routine before leaving for a shoot should be followed always, without fail. With regards to this, I always communicate expected departure & arrival times with a friend or my partner, and allow them to geo-locate my mobile phone at all times. Furthermore, as this activity involves staying in often remote locations for hours on end to capture an image in the ‘best light’ or ‘perfect cloud’, making adequate food & provisions is paramount. Therefore I always carry a 2 litre water bottle, a few protein bars, and on a cold day a Thermos flask of Coffee to help stay warm.

Below is a brief list of some of the most common risks that are to be expected when photographing coastal locations in Cornwall that are often & inherently; a) close to deep ocean water, b) situated on a cliff edge 50 metres or more in height, c) have unstable or loose materials on even the most established pathways d) wet & unstable large boulders where falls & injuries are quite possible.

1) High Winds

Risk: High Winds & Gusts

Description: Speeds or gusts in excess of 30 mph pose a risk to life if at an elevation on exposed coasts or promontories

Mitigation: check weather forecast days in advance & on the day to ensure speeds are safe at chosen location & elevation

2) Large Swells

Risk: Large ocean swells hitting beaches

Description: ocean swells in excess of 10 feet can pose a risk to life when on beaches or rocky coastlines at high tide

Mitigation: check surf forecast well in advance to ensure personal safety at high tide. abandon shoot if conditions unsafe

3) Heavy Rain

Risk: Heavy Rainfall

Description: unexpected rainfall, if heavy, or sporadic showers, can put electronic equipment at risk

Mitigation: always have a waterproof camera bag with a rain cover so equipment can be protected during rainfall

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