Landscape Photography 1

Panorama of 4 images

I think readers will be aware that apart from astrophotography my main interest from a photography viewpoint is landscape and architecture.

These have featured the least on my degree course, which has spent most of its time covering genres such as still life, portraiture, street photography etc. 

A recent project provided an opportunity to address that. I was interested in longer exposure landscape images, which enable motion blur. This can produce interesting effects from the movement of clouds, water, people, and other objects. I’m also interested in nightscape photography, which can be very different. Cityscapes at night are usually interesting because of all of the different lights. 

For the course work after a lot of trial and error, I settled on coastal scenes at West Kirby and night scenes on the River Mersey at New Brighton. 

Marine lake at West Kirby

The West Kirby images were taken near to the marine lake, which has a causeway around it, which is popular as a walk. By using late afternoon sun, I was able to obtain more interesting skies. The use of neutral density filters enables longer exposures to be taken. This provided some motion blur to the clouds and to reflections in the lake. Being late afternoon in winter this brought some interesting colour into the clouds and the sky, which was picked up in the reflections. 

New Brighton has a lighthouse, and it is directly across the river from the docks at Bootle and Seaforth. The city of Liverpool is a bit further upstream.

The images were taken around an hour after sunset so in real term sit was dark, although long exposures of 30 seconds towards the west would pick up residual light making it seem less dark. The light in the images is complex. There is a lot of scattered light from light pollution reflecting back down from the clouds. This provides a faint light which illuminates the sand and brings out the almost grotesque ghostly greens of the algae on some of the rocks. The light affects the colour of the clouds, which can change depending on the length of the exposure and on the density of the clouds. 

Lighthouse at New Brighton

The advantage of shooting near low tide is that the water is relatively still. This means that reflections of lights in the water tend to be stronger. 

River Mersey and Bootle Docks

Composition is always a challenge. After some experiments, what seemed to work for me was to place the ‘horizon’ one third of the way up the image. This provides foreground interest without letting it dominate the image. Full size at 3×2 or shrunk slightly to 5×4 didn’t seem to work and a more panoramic format seemed better. The standard panoramic crop is 16×9, which matches modern television aspect ratio. After more experiments, I found that I preferred the 21:9 aspect ratio as used in Cinemascope widescreen films. This gives more of a panoramic feel to the images. It works well for most images.        

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