Pastel Seascapes

Foreground detail with long tonal gradations

This project was conceived having seen some of the great work done by other photographers that show serene seascapes & coastal images, with high key exposures and concentration on colour tonality with low contrast, I thought I would try my hand at this.

I was loaned a book of the work by Hugh Milsom, and in particular I liked his images from his Beach Impressions Gallery. I was conscious that I didn’t want to copy the work per se, but to use his inspirational shots as the emphasis for the style I wanted to create.

to create something of my own that would give the right look and feel whilst evoking calming emotions in the viewer.

Distant detail with mid-ground warmth to draw the eye in

So the process of pre-visualisation had taken place, now I needed to plan the location & how I was going to take the image. A day on the south coast at West Wittering provided the opportunity. The next phase was to decide how to create the style. This became a cross fertilisation with another type of work I was planning. I had bought a 10 stop Neutral Density filter to do late evening shots of waves & pier structures. This would work well here to create the softness I was looking for. The 10 stop filter means in normal daylight, that I would need a shutter speed of about 30 seconds or so, and this is what it turned out to be.

Of course a tripod would be needed, and a lens with a wide enough angle to get the full seascape in. The aperture was set to F16 so I could get the foreground in focus as well as the structures in the distance. It’s these structures along with the

detail in the foreground, like stones, that show the image is in perfect focus whilst still letting the filter do its smoothing magic.

The wave creates foreground interest but is still soft, with the layers of smooth colours creating a tonal composition

A remote shutter & mirror-up was used to keep the camera steady at shutter release, whilst being secured on a solid Gitzo tripod as the sea lapped at the tripods legs. These filters mean you cannot see through the lens as they stop 10 stops of light, so you need to calculate the correct exposure prior to taking and either remove the filter to pre-frame the image for composition, or take the image & review in the screen after taking it (great benefit of digital photography).


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