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Shores of Chaos

Posted by
Darkelf Photography (Perth, Australia) on 21 December 2021 in Landscape & Rural and Portfolio.


A moody and dynamic scene from the south coast of Western Australia near the town of Denmark. Southern coastline has a lot of fantastic scenery with granite rocks and outcrops featuring prominently in many places. The waves can get quite big as well and these conditions make for great seascape photography. Almost every beach has unique rock formations and they present a lot of compositional possibilities to discover. I tend to particularly enjoy a bit of rock-hopping when exploring these areas and trying to find good spots to photograph.

This was a darker evening with light fading quickly as we got into the blue hour of the day. The sun threatened to burst through right at sunset but it stayed hidden behind the clouds, leaving just a bit of a glow over the horizon. The sea was angry enough for good waves to come through and luckily it was not too dangerous where I was standing. I like getting in as close as possible to the water action but I understand the need to respect nature and to be constantly aware of what is happening around me - for good photography and for my safety. In this instance, I wanted to move in close to get the most of the drama out of the scene and the swirling sea water and crashing waves provided that perfectly to build tension and mood.

Shooting seascapes requires a lot of patience. There are moments where the waves are just crashing left, right and centre, obscuring everything in sight. Then there are times when sea calms down and there is not much going on around. Waiting for the right kind of waves to create the motion effect that I am looking for is the key for me. In a photo like this, I was happy with everything - light, mood, rocks and tones - but I needed the water to bring them all together and to be the element that links them all and leads through the scene.

Wave action usually means a fair bit of experimentation with shutter speeds, all depending on the final vision of the image and the kind of effect that one is looking for. With experience it can get a little easier to have an idea of what shutter speed one can start with but conditions are often so very different and each time fine tuning is required. Sometimes, a change of 1/4 sec second can mean a big difference to the final result. For this photo, I was shooting exposures from 1/10 second up to 5 seconds and above as the light faded away. I was really happy to get this two second exposure in with the first wave splashing over the rocks in the background and one filling the channel in the foreground a moment later. Two seconds was just right to catch all the action in one frame while getting the kind of motion effect I wanted to fit with the mood.

With our long coastline in Australia, seascape photography was where I was taking my first more serious steps as a beginner photographer. After many years of shooting coastal scene, I still love it as much as during those early days.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV 2 seconds F/8.0 ISO 200 16 mm

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