landscape photography

Betws-y-coed and the Watkin Path

Betws-y-coed and the Watkin Path

Every year I get a chance to shoot in Snowdonia, arguably one of the most beautiful places in the British Isles.  It is however always in winter, when visiting relatives in the area - so it's cold!!  Last year we went to the Llyn Idwal/Tryfan area on New Year's Eve at sunrise - you can see the result of this little trip in an earlier post.

Sennen Cove, Cornwall

Day 5 - Sennen.  Just a couple of miles round from Lands End is Sennen, with a beautiful long, sandy cove.  When researching this trip on 500px and Flickr, there were so many potential locations to visit.  But Sennen kept popping up, with its strong surf and arching beach.  Access to the beach is not for the unfit/faint hearted, as there is a mad scramble back up the steep hill back to the car park - exhausting with a full frame kit on your back!  This was definitely one of those moments that tempted me to get rid of my Nikon kit completely for more Fuji glass....we will see.... Ray of light 3-1077

After our visit to the Geevor tin mine, the weather had got a bit more interesting and there was some great cloud cover coming in off the sea.  This made the landscape in front of us much more interesting to capture, and created some contrast suitable for black and white.

My main problem on the beach was avoiding a tripod-based sinking disaster!  I wanted to be close to the surf to create some nice effects with the rocks on the beach, but that brought me a little too close to the rough seas.

Rock in the surf-1031

Islands in the sea-1053

I did take some images without the Lee filter system, but there's something that the filters do tonally to the image that you just don't get without them, but I can't put my finger on it!


Surf_2-1052 Surf_4-1063 Surf_3-1054

Again, the Nikon raw files do take more work it seems than the images produced by the Fuji x-trans sensor.  But depending on the style of image you want, there is a lot of leeway when it comes to editing.  The images above (hopefully) show you this.

This was one of the last major sites for landscape photography on our trip.  Cornwall is a beautiful location, however much of the coast gives you a very similar image (large granite rock formations, big surf, sandy beaches).  So, I felt a little limited in finding different looks.  All in all though, I was pleased with some of the shots I was able to capture, and it definitely allowed me to assess the two different kits (Nikon and Fuji) that I now own.  There's a little more to come (a trip to a delightfully quaint steam railway) in this series, and I will also be launching a new personal project soon.  Stay tuned.

Lands End, Cornwall

Day 1 - Lands End.  After Mousehole, we moved on round the coast towards Lands End.  The extreme landscape this far west was striking, with rolling hills and steep drops into the ocean.  People usually claim Lands End to be pretty tacky and a bit of a tourist trap - we stayed away from the attraction itself (a bizarre bright white building perched pretty much on the edge of a cliff) and instead tackled the nature trail around the clifftops. The landscape gave a hint of what the weather was usually like there - consistent high winds has led to a stark lack of vegetation which makes it less interesting as a subject.  We got a taste of that weather, which meant keeping the tripod steady a bit of a challenge, especially during longer exposures with the Lee Big Stopper.  Looking out towards the Isles of Scilly, there were plenty of subjects to photograph.  We chose a perch pretty close to the edge - mainly to avoid the tourists trying to grab a quick snapshot!

Lands end rocks-0858

This is a 15 sec exposure at f/8.0, using my 16-35mm f/4 Nikon lens.  An ND filter was used to minimise the chaos of the ocean and to smooth out some of the waves.  I quite like the white smudge this causes in the water, but of course it always comes down to personal taste...All around this part of Cornwall there are these stacks of rocks jutting out from the water, which always make interesting subjects.

Lands end lighthouse-0860

This is the same rock stack, but this images took in the iconic lighthouse about a mile out to sea (same settings as the previous image).  Again, a Lee ND filter was used to smooth the motion in the sea, creating a nice bright area which draws the eye into the image.  The idea was to have the rock stack point diagonally across the image and direct the viewer towards the lighthouse.

Lands end coast-0862

We switched position to face south, just as the weather changed once again.  The new dehaze feature in Lightroom CC worked great as it minimised some of the spray coming off the ocean, improving the clarity of the rocks - filter management was a pain at this point as they kept getting coated in moisture.

Lands end photographer-0868

In the final image from this location I decided to include a human element, namely a bird watcher in the most brightly coloured coat I've ever seen a wildlife shooter in!  (30 seconds, f/8.0, ISO 100, 21mm)  You can see his motion, moving his camera around to photograph the birds, and this gels well with the motion captured in the ocean.  It's a common issue with landscape shooters - do you include people, or will it make the image cluttered and take something away from the scene?  I'm still on the fence, but in this image I did like how his coat actually made the green foliage stand out more.  As for the best (or right) choice, I'll leave that to you...