26 Aug 2008

Photography down river - part 2

Here in SW Scotland the tides can be very high, fast and strong. Be safe – check the tide times so that you don’t get stranded on sand banks on a rising tide. Try to time your photography for the falling tide when the water level is falling.
Buy a local tide table, or check on tides at the BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/coast/tides

Use your fingers

Even the best autofocus system can be a little confused when photographing water, you may find that it ‘hunts’ for something to focus on. Be prepared to resort to the tried and tested method – manual focus. Use your fingers on that focusing ring. If you are photographing a landscape scene and using a wide angle lens, you may find it difficult to manual focus accurately – so use the distance scale on your lens – if you have one. If you set this scale to just less than ‘infinity’ and use a small aperture, perhaps f11 or less, the wide angle lens’s extra depth of field should ensure you get most of the scene in focus.

Remember those basic rules of light…
Frontlight – Reveals colour – good for the straighforward reflections.
Sidelight – emphasizes texture and form.
Backlight – reveals outline shapes – like silhouettes.
Toplight – go have a beer!

Top photograph

Do not get carried away by the wonderful sounds of the estuary. The haunting call of the curlew does not photograph very well – you need to record only visual information in your camera, and this picture contains lots. The hull of the boat is in pretty low, non-directional light, and this has helped show more colour than texture. The rusty ladder leans at an angle that counteracts the lines of the planking, and the focal point, the sky, is a mass of bold colour. The camera was put on a tripod, a slow shutter speed (1/8sec) and a small aperture (f16) was used to gain maximum depth of field

Photograph 2

It is late afternoon and the last glimmer of sun just catches the superstructure of this scallop dredger as it heads down river and out to sea. I have not tried to counteract the extremely high temperature blue light, but kept the White Balance (WB) setting on the daylight (Sun) setting. This has had the effect of washing the whole scene – except the dashes of yellow sun on the boat – with blue

Photograph 3

Always be alert to those moments that just happen, and don’t get so wrapped up with one type of shot that you ignore everything else around you. When the lifeboat appeared going flat out down river, I stopped photographing the river bank for a few moments, took a couple of pictures of the lifeboat, then carried on with what I was doing

Photographs 4 & 5

Explore each subject carefully and take lots of pictures. Don’t be afraid to return to the same subject if possible to photograph it in different light or tide conditions. In this case, I photographed the boat’s reflection at high water, and returned when the tide was out to take more details.

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