The Making of "Southerdown Sunset"

How the winning photo of the "Sunset or Moonrise" contest was made

By duetto96 in Photo Contests on Oct 30, 2018

"Southerdown Sunset"

Thank you to everyone who nominated and voted for my photo in September’s “Sunset or Moonrise” contest. I was pleased it did well because this image is one of my personal favourites and it is always satisfying when your work is seen and appreciated by others.

I live on the south coast of England in the UK but in recent years I have regularly travelled to south Wales where this image was captured. I usually take my camera with me when I travel and had planned this particular journey to take in a beach in south Wales which I had visited before, but had never photographed. On this occasion I was travelling alone so I timed and broke my four hour journey at the beach on the off-chance there might be a sunset. (Experiencing a sunset in Wales is a rare event for me because it invariably rains while I’m there!)

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An hour before sunset it was immediately apparent that even if there was going to be a sunset, the sun was totally in the wrong place from what I had anticipated. In fact, it really didn’t look like there would be a sunset at all so I decided I would just take a break in my car with a flask of warm coffee and a curled up sandwich.

As luck would have it, what you see in the image developed right in front of me and I couldn’t have wished for more. The rocks on the shoreline provided much needed foreground interest and the state of the tide was perfect as it swirled around and over the rocks.

I’m afraid I don’t really have any magic photographic tips or camera settings to pass on. In my youth I would snap anything that moved, or didn’t! Nowadays, I usually home in on composition first and foremost. I will quite often pick a particular spot; set up my tripod; settle on a composition; set the camera up to take bracketed exposures (hedging my bets), and take a series of exposures over the course of the sunset. If I am shooting into the sun I will frequently use a graduated neutral density filter to help calm the sky down. On other occasions I may expose for the sky and foreground separately and attempt to blend them in post. These techniques can make a difference but only if the composition is right in the first place.

In this particular case I was also attempting to capture water movement so although always a little hit and miss, the timing of the exposures was a factor in the success of the image.

I use a very old version of Lightroom for catalog management and basic post processing. If necessary, I will export images out to an equally old version of Photoshop where I will make any adjustments that I can’t do from my version of Lightroom.

Thanks again to all of you that viewed and voted for this image. I wish you luck with your own images in future competitions.

- David (duetto96)

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