Tony McLean's East Yorkshire Wildlife Diary

Wildlife photography in East Yorkshire

Fun and filters at the seaside…

Flamborough Head-stack

“Once again rules of composition prove irrelevant in the face of a great photographer, well seen and made – Ernie Howard”.

I’m not sure about the great photographer part, but the quote from fellow photographer and friend, Ernie Howard got me thinking. The beach at Flamborough head is a favourite haunt for local photographers. I arrived mid-week at full tide on a dreary summer’s evening. I had plenty of time to pre-visualise the scene before the tide turned so I studied the rocks on the surf soaked foreshore. I knew that the dull colours would not support a colour image so I looked for graphic shaped objects that would lead my eye towards the stack. I was delighted to find a piece of chalk that appeared to resemble a turtle and shortly found a lovely round white boulder and a black spear-head shaped rock that would complete the triangle that pointed to the stack. All that was left was to capture the rolling surf at a slow enough shutter speed to suggest movement of the tide and the surrounding water. In Photoshop, I used the Nik software plug-in, Silver Efex Pro 2 to convert the colour raw file into monochrome.

Sea cave

I was immediately drawn to the wonderful greens of this sea cave. I did my best to capture the scene in all its verdant glory but a lack of polarising filter spoilt the image by allowing the reflection pin the lower right quadrant of the photograph. So armed with a set of Lee graduating filters and a Singh-Ray warm polarising filters I returned to Flamborough at low tide on Saturday afternoon. Ironically, I couldn’t use the graduated filters on the image below of a sea-cave. It would have concealed the rich shadow tones in the roof of the cave. Instead I bracketed my exposures – one normal and two over & underexposed by two stops, I then merged them together in Photoshop to created this image.

Flamborough Sea Cave

Of course, I learned the hard way that with filters, you’ve always got to be on the look out for stray reflections. I was using two grad filters at the same time (a 3 stop neutral density and a two stop soft grad). Trouble was I ended up with horrific reflections despite using the baffles that Lee supply with the SW150 kit for the Nikon 14 – 24 I was using.

Using my newly acquired Nikon D800 has given me huge files to work with and some gorgeous detail. Have a look this ‘reject’ image from one of my trips to Flamborough. For those who wish to know the technical details it was taken with my 24-70 f2.8 lens at 40mm at f16 1/20 at ISO 100 on my D800.

Here’s a 100% crop of the detail from the base of the 7360 x 4912 image…

and here is the detail of the people standing at the top of the cliff…

I reckon I’ve got a lot to learn over the next six months. I promise to keep you updated with my progress!

Sunset over Scarborough


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3 thoughts on “Fun and filters at the seaside…

  1. Alan on said:

    Good luck with your trip to Iceland Tony!Yes agree we all need a change in photography at times,stops you from becoming “stale”.And possibly will refresh your views on what you can do.Love the Flamboro’ photos,things that are on our door step that we sometimes take for granted….all the best Alan

  2. Damn, i like the black & white. Stunning.

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