Mysterious and moody sunset on the west coast of Australia. This local beach is a place which I always go back to when in need of inspiration for photography and especially during busy working weeks and with limited travel possible. This is the kind of place where I always can rely on finding something to photograph and where no two evenings have ever been the same. I love chasing new compositions and discovering new locations but sometimes going back to your old tried and tested favourite spot can feel like having a good conversation with an old friend.
During winter this stretch of the coast is perfect for seascape and long exposure photography. Winter storms take away the sand from the shore and reveal an intricate system of rocks and fissures hiding beneath. That allows the ocean to flow beautifully between them and the motion of the water results in either interesting dynamic streams or soft and misty look when shooting at long shutter speeds. If there is a chance of a colourful sunset, I would usually go for shorter exposure times to get that dynamic movement to accompany the light in the sky. When conditions are more overcast and cloudy, this is when I would bring out my dark filters and take long exposures instead.
That choice also depends on the swell and size of the waves. For long exposures I would usually like to see moderate swell that occasionally washes over the rocks but mostly keeps to the trenches and breaks between the rocks. That helps to create the floating effect of the rocks rising out of the mist and enhances the mood substantially in my opinion. When the swell is on the lower side and the waves do not even reach the rocks, then it usually means that it is time to move on to a different composition.
Experience also plays a big part in choosing the right exposure time. Having taken a fair few long exposures over the years and having observed many different conditions on the coast, it makes it easier to decide on the exposure time. When clouds are moving quite fast and the sea is very dynamic, it is usually not necessary to use extremely long shutter speed to get good effects. On the other hand, when the clouds are hanging about and the sea is calmer, longer time may be required to achieve the motion effect in the sky and to get the water looking misty and dreamy.
I think that it all can sound overly complicated and it can seem like a long and difficult process but it is not like that in reality. These are just the choices that one can make when taking seascape photos and hopefully it gives you an insight into how I go about my photography. These choices are ever so slightly more important in long exposure photography because, as I often mentioned, once you take a six to eight minute photo, the conditions can change rapidly and it may not be possible to photograph that particular moment or mood again.
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