As some of you know I recently re-located down to Dorset because of my partners work. We're living between Bournemouth and Poole so there's plenty of opportunities for me to find some new shooting locations...
As you can imagine it's jam packed with holiday makers on this coast line during July/August but I've managed to find a few quiet spots on recent early evening sojourns. Usually by 7pm the tourists have retired to the pubs and restaurants for recuperation and aftersun cream at which point this intrepid explorer heads to the quieter spots, up the hills and down by the bays.
A couple of weeks ago I managed a couple of nights out in a row, firstly to the 'ranges' near Lulworth. Here there are some great cliff top walks that are only open at certain times, it's important not to stray too far from the path as this area is owned by the military and in the 'off-season' is an active shooting range!
I arrived actually hoping to get a high vantage point to catch some late evening sun raking across the fields, however after a fairly short sharp ascent up the cliff I was more intrigued by these amazing cloud formations out to sea. The scene seemed perfect for Black & White and the trick then is to contrast the highlights and shadows to give depth and presence to the scene. Using a polariser on the lens helps darken the sky but also importantly it helps separate the clouds from the background which brings out that contrast you need. There were little pockets of sunlight on the sea which added to the drama.
Like many times the actual scene I was hoping to capture, of sun raking across the fields, never materialised as the sun wasn't 'playing ball' and there was a little stubborn cloud cover stopping it directing the last evening light in the location I was hoping for. However as I packed away and started to walk back down the cliff path towards the car (and a well deserved Twix) there was one final burst of fiery orange summer sun, so, quick as a flash (photography pun intended - get it?!) I swiveled my bag off my back and attached a long lens to fire off a couple of shots at some of the summer grasses, nearly shooting straight into the sun. This direct light causes a block of colour and sun flare which coupled with the large aperture and resulting shallow depth of field helped produce this image below.
This image is 'straight out the camera' i.e. no editing, no added colour, no preservatives (!). Using this technique of shooting (nearly) into the sun and due to the late hour and the depth of orange naturally present it's possible to let the light do the work. Satisfied and in need of some sustenance I trooped off back to the car.
The next evening I headed to Kimmeridge Bay, a slightly unassuming and 'off the beaten track' small bay on the Isle of Purbeck (near Swanage). It's quite well known among photographers due to the natural rock/clay 'shelves' that are present just off the shoreline. Depending on the tide you can actually walk out (carefully, they are v.slippy!) onto these shelves and although most people set up on the main rock formation (just near the entry) I find it more peaceful and more compositionally pleasing to head to a far shelf looking back along the beach. There was some nice light as I arrived so it was a fairly quick set-up and then a case of trying to perfect the composition to make full use of the rocks and their various angles and textures. Finding the right aspect ratio is equally important as some scenes suit portrait, some landscape, either way the overall balance of the composition should dictate that.
It's quite easy to be overwhelmed by the geographical magnificence of this place and just end up pointing the camera at everything. I find looking for angles and shapes in the rocks that will lead the eye or just balance the overall composition is very important, no doubt with more visits here I may find more pleasing angles. There was a rather heavy sky which you can accentuate with a graduated filter, this was especially pleasing as the strip of sun light that was present was further accentuated. I'd been to Kimmeridge before in very flat grey conditions so was more than a little bit chuffed to be treated to this display.
The third image below was taken soon after arriving and as such there was a lighter feel to the scene, whereas the first two images shown below were taken later when the ambient light had faded and there was just the strip of sunlight on the horizon...