Along The Shore (RPS Landscape Group)

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Along The Shore

Photographing coastal architecture between Shoreham by Sea and Newhaven by Richard Ellis ARPS


Safety First

• Check the tide times before you go - the timing and height of the tides is critical. Spring tides can cut off areas that were previously accessible. • Ensure you have a safe route out to dry land at all times. • This is especially important if you are shooting with sea defences behind you so you do not get cut off. • All the beaches at these locations are shingle so if you get caught in a back wash it will be like running uphill on marbles whilst someone pulls you back. Be careful not to get too close to the waters edge and watch the waves for some time from a safe distance before you approach the water. This will help you to gauge the behaviour of the waves. • Some of the structures are very high so look out for drop offs if you go on them.


Planning

The five P’s Perfect Planning Prevents Poor Performance

Before you rush of and get started, some planning will really help with your trip and enable you to get the maximum out of your time in the field. There are many factors which will determine if you have a successful trip some within your control and some not. Planning will help you minimise the variance in the events within your control. The first thing is to ensure is that you are familiar with your camera and that you have an understanding of the type of images you want to create. If you want to create black and white images do you know how to set the picture controls on your camera to display black and white images? Do you understand how to display the histogram for your images and what to do if your image is not correctly exposed? Is your tripod serviced and working? If you cannot answer yes to these kind of questions then spend some time and sort the issues out, a windy harbour is not a great place to be looking at your

camera manual. Basic camera craft is beyond the scope of this guide but if you want this information then “The Art of Landscape Photography” by Mark Bauer and Ross Hoddinott will really help you to get started. To gain some ideas of the way other photographers have treated these locations you can use Instagram, Flickr or Facebook. The sea along this section of coast is not the most attractive colour due to a lot of churning of particulates particularly in the waves close to shore consequently most of the images shown are in black and white. This presence of particulates in the water helps contrast and provides pleasing images in black and white. To get some sense of motion in the water many of the images here are long exposures ( exposure > 1/60 s). This requires its’ own set of techniques which will be covered next.


Long Exposure

Long exposure is a technique to enable you to slow down the motion of an object and not render it in sharp focus. Imagine a person running , shot at 1/2000 s the runner will be in focus and sharp as they will only have moved 0.5cm in the exposure time, if you were to expose for 0.5s they would have moved 5m and thus be rendered as a blur. The above example assumes the runner is Usain Bolt! It is a similar story for water in motion, at 1/2000s a wave will be sharp with detail in all the droplets, at 0.5s it will be a series of streaks. So how do you go about achieving this effect. There are only three variables to play with when taking a photograph: • Exposure which determines how long the shutter is open • Aperture which determines how much light enters

the camera • ISO which determines how responsive the camera is to the light Given normal lighting it will not be possible to get a long exposure time and thus slow the subject down so you will need to stop the light reaching the sensor by the use of a neutral density filter. These block light from reaching the sensor without altering the image. Use of such a filter enables you to reduce the light entering the camera and thus lengthen the time the shutter is open.


The exposure triangle


Calculating Long Exposure Times

Calculating a long exposure can be done by two methods. One is trial and error, start with an exposure which experience teaches you is roughly correct and use the histogram to fine tune it. Whilst some professional photographers do use this method it is not one I recommend as I find it time consuming and frustrating. If you want to go down this route, for a day time scene, start with a 10 stop filter and 30s at f11. Look at the histogram, if it is too much to the right decrease the ISO or aperture (higher f stop) or exposure time, if it is underexposed increase the aperture, exposure time or ISO. Each line on your histogram is one stop of exposure so if you us the example above and want to to increase by 1 stop you can either expose for 60s, or move to f8 or increase ISO to 200. You should only do one of these at once. If you do all 3 you will have increased by 3 stops of exposure.

exposure without your filter in place. For example the normal without filter exposure may be 1/60s. If you want water that is streaky you would need about 1s exposure so would use a six stop filter, if you want water that is milky then use a 10 stop to get an exposure of about 15 s. There are several ways of calculating the new exposure time: Use a table which you print out Calculate the exposure arithmetically: • 3 stop = exposure x 8 • 6 stop = exposure x 64 • 10 stop = exposure x 1064

The second method is to calculate the new exposure based from a normal exposure. Start by assessing the

• 15 stop = exposure x 32768


Calculating Long Exposure Times

The easiest way to calculate the exposure time is to use an App. Lee filters have one which can be downloaded free of charge and works on your smart phone.


Tides and Weather

“Tide and time waits for no man” is a popular saying. It is something you will need to be cognisant of if you are to get the most out of the shoot. All of the locations are best shot from mid tide to high tide and then back to mid tide. At low tide many of the structures will have insufficient water flow around them to give attractive compositions. To check tide times you can either do this on the web or via an App. Most providers on the web only give tide times for a week in advance which can make longer term planning difficult. To get longer term tide tables you can either purchase a paper copy or get an app. Two I recommend are Ayetide and Nautide. Nautide is more comprehensive both in locations and data but requires an annual subscription. Ayetide has fewer locations but has a nominal one off purchase price. A sample tide chart is shown right and as most of these location work best at mid-high tide the best times to shoot in the example would be 04:30 to 08:30 or 23:30 to 03:30.


Impact of shutter speed on water images

Shutter speed will determine how sharply water is rendered. At shutter speeds greater than 1/1000s most water will be rendered sharply with individual droplets visible. At shutter speeds still in the fractions of a second the overall shape of the water will be clearly defined but individual droplets will not be visible. At shutter speeds of 1-2s the water will appear streaky with lines of flow in it. At shutter speeds in the 10’s of seconds the water will appear milky. The above are guidelines as it depends how fast the water is flowing, for example water in a vertical falling cascade moves considerably quicker than a gently lapping wave. The above guidelines will help you to start to create the effect you want which can then be further refined.

1/2000s

1/1000s


Impact of shutter speed on water images

1/50s

1/160s

1/13s


Impact of shutter speed on water images

1.3s

2s

2s


Impact of shutter speed on water images

8s

10s


Protecting your camera Camera with shower cap for protection

To ensure your equipment is protected you will need a good quality waterproof camera bag. A camera bag will protect your equipment from a light soaking but only a waterproof case will protect it if it gets soaked by a wave. Set up away from the waters edge. You can use your body as a shield but do not turn your back on the sea if it can come close to you. To protect your gear whilst in use I find a shower cap is useful. Put over the front of the filters it can stop spray landing on the lens and filters whilst you finalise your composition. Rain covers are also available relatively cheaply and are more robust. To make the set up of your camera easier you can use an App which shows you the images at various focal lengths. This can save you getting lenses out of your bag that are not needed. Two good ones are Alpla eFinder II or Magic Canonic Viewfinder. The Alpla one is a paid for App and you need to purchase data for your camera, the Magic Canonic one is free but only covers Canon cameras so you will need to match your camera

to the nearest Canon one in order to get the correct field of view.

Screen shot of view from Alpla App


Sunrise and sunset shoots

It is not necessary to shoot these locations at sunrise or sunset but should you choose to do so then the Photographers Ephemeris is very helpful to determine the position of the sun. The website version is free and if you want to use it on your smartphone then you can download the App.

These locations are best shot in winter when the sun will rise and set over the sea. Once it rises over the land you will then need clouds to get reflected colour. For sunrises this will limit you from November to February.


Overview of locations

Your journey will start in the west at Shoreham by Sea at the old fort. The fort dates from the mid 1800’s and was built to defend against invasion of the River Adur by French forces. It housed a series of gun emplacements and so is built in a low style with thick walls to withstand the impact of canon fire. We will end our journey in Newhaven, a port which found prosperity towards the end of the 1800’s as an import centre for goods from France. Over 22km or 14 miles we will have the opportunity to photograph sea defences, navigational equipment, a derelict pier and groynes.

This will give us the opportunity to produce a diverse portfolio in a relatively compact area.


Shoreham Fort

Park in the car park and pay your parking fee. The district council enforce charges with enthusiasm. If the car park is full there is free parking on Harbour Road and you can walk back to the harbour. Walk across the path past the fort towards the coast watch station and you will see the harbour breakwaters in front of you. The harbour is in active use and takes large ships so when one is entering or leaving be aware of wash hitting the shore. Shooting takes place on either side of the main wall and on the wall itself. You can walk along the wall to the end to capture images of the breakwater opposite. Shooting back to the north tends to produce images with very cluttered backgrounds so you are best off focussing west to east via the southern aspect.

Location Overview Postcode/Coordinates

BH43 5HY/50.8273 N, 0.2501 W

Parking

Yes charges apply

Toilet Facility

Yes

Refreshments

No

Wheelchair access

No


Shoreham Fort

There are many locations to shoot. On the western side of the breakwater is a large concrete structure which can be used to get images of water flow or spray as the waves strike it. This happens around mid tide.

Outer Breakwater


Shoreham Fort The Inner Harbour

This is the prime shooting location here. Although there are some small structures visible at low tide and can provide some interesting innerscapes the harbour comes alive at mid to high tide. With the breakwater shielding the worst of storm weather images can be made in stormy conditions although great care should be exercised.


Shoreham Fort The Inner Harbour - serenity


Shoreham Lifeboat Station

Shoreham Lifeboat station provides a short stop on the way to the port area. There are several navigation markers and some interesting groyne structures along the foreshore. The harbour is used by wild water swimmers who can provide some human interest as they swim around the harbour. Park on the rough ground and walk 30 yards and you are at the waters edge. This location can be shot at any state of the tide but if you want water around the groynes then visit at high tide.

Location Overview Postcode/Coordinates

BH43 6RN/50.8303 N, 0.2490 W

Parking

Yes - free on rough ground

Toilet Facility

No

Refreshments

No

Wheelchair access

No


Shoreham Lifeboat Station

Harbour Views


Shoreham Port

Shoreham Port provides a wide range of items of photographic interest and is the most diverse location with the greatest range of subjects. You could easily shoot most of a tidal cycle here starting at mid tide and going through high tide. Park at the car park near the cafe and you will be in the middle of the locations. The marker posts are located to the east of the power station tower and there is a wide variety of sea defences along from the tower to the lorry park. In the western direction are more groynes, rock armour and a harbour wall enabling views towards the Shoreham fort locations.

Location Overview Postcode/Coordinates

BH41 1WD/50.8300 N, 0.2315 W

Parking

Yes - charges apply

Toilet Facility

Yes

Refreshments

Yes

Wheelchair access

No


Shoreham Port

The outflow


Shoreham Port

The outflow


Shoreham Port

Sea Defences


Shoreham Port

Sea Defences


Shoreham Port

Sea Defences


Shoreham Port

Sunset


Brighton West Pier

The derelict Brighton West pier is an iconic landscape location. It has featured in Landscape Photographer of the Year (LPOTY), and in the work of many photographers. Finn Hopson has some lovely images of the pier in his nearby gallery. Park on the promenade near the BA eye and walk across to the pier. The winning shot of the pier in LPOTY featured a murmuration of starlings, these occur in the winter months. It can be shot at any state of the tide and for sunrise or sunset though sunset avoids any conflict with the neighbouring new pier. If you want the poles in the water then you need to shoot at mid to high tide. There is a concrete structure to the east which provides a leading line at high tide.

Location Overview Postcode/Coordinates

BH1 2LN/50.8213 N, -0.1508 W

Parking

Yes - charges apply

Toilet Facility

Yes

Refreshments

Yes

Wheelchair access

Partial - some images can be shot from the promenade


Brighton West Pier

West Pier


Newhaven Harbour

Although Newhaven Harbour wall can be shot as a long exposure it is with the waves breaking over the sea defence and the lighthouse that it is most famous. This is achieved when high water coincides with a south westerly gale. Park on the northern or western side of the car park if you want to avoid lots of sea spray on your car. You can shoot through the gates at the entrance to the breakwater or on the hill overlooking the harbour arm. On the western side of the sea defence images can be captured of wave forms from the beach. Travelling back towards Newhaven turn right to Newhaven fort and you will be rewarded with images from the top of the cliff. Head for the National ‘CoastWatch’ lookout and shoot from the cliffs of Fort Hill.

Location Overview Postcode/Coordinates

BH9 9DN/50.7823 N, 0.0538 W

Parking

Yes - charges apply sometimes

Toilet Facility

No

Refreshments

No

Wheelchair access

Partial - some images can be shot from the promenade


Newhaven Harbour

Newhaven Lighthouse


Newhaven Harbour

Newhaven storm II


Newhaven Harbour

Newhaven Curve


Newhaven Harbour

Newhaven mist


Conclusion

I hope you have enjoyed your journey and found some new places to create your images. There are many other techniques not shown in this guide that you could use e.g. intentional camera movement or multiple exposure so please do not feel limited by the images shown here. Good luck with your photography.


About the author

Richard Ellis is an enthusiastic amateur photographer based in Berkshire. He is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and chair of the Landscape Special Interest Group. He enjoys all aspects of landscape photography but especially coastal photography on islands.

All location images © Richard Ellis Ascot August 2021


A plea

This guide is available free of charge to members of the Royal Photographic Society. However we are aware that these guides get passed on, so if you have received it not as part of your RPS membership and you use it to guide your photography please donate £5 to the RNLI. The RNLI staffs a series of lifeboats all around our coast and is the principal charity for saving lives at sea.

www.RNLI.org


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