Shooting on the coast in a huge storm is uniquely challenging. Making sense of the chaotic scene and trying to put everything into some sort of meaningful composition isn’t easy when you’re being hit by 90mph winds and the air is filled with spray. And the adrenaline rush of watching huge waves dramatically smash into the shoreline can be very distracting- it’s tempting to shoot every wave on hi speed, rapidly filling your memory card. And this is what I did on my first visit here in December last year, when storm Atifa hit our coastline –you can pretty much guarantee that if you shoot enough frames, sooner or later you’ll get a huge wave arching over the sea wall and lighthouse. And these make for very dramatic images.
But as the light dropped on this shoot, which coincided with the biggest storm the UK has seen for a decade, I wondered if I could use a slow shutter speed to really simplify the scene- to emphasize the movement of the water without freezing it completely. The problem was that this plan coincided with the peak of the storm and on the exposed sea wall, the conditions were brutal. Even standing upright was difficult. Trying to shoot at 1/3 second whilst gripping a vibrating tripod for support with a combination of sea spray and rain constantly hitting the front element was both fun and frustrating in equal parts. On the plus side, the roar of the wind was so loud that my colourful language was drowned out. And they turned the light on.
This is Porthcawl during Storm Ciara.
Technical: Nikon D850, Nikkor 70-200mm @122mm, f/4, ISO 500, 1/3 second. Image stabilisation on. Gitzo GT3533LS tripod, FLM CB48 II ballhead. Cable release. Two legs of the tripod parallel and as close in to the sea wall as possible with the third leg at 90 degrees and flat to the top for stability.
Tags: uk united kingdom storm ciara porthcawl wales waves lighthouse stormy seas seascape long exposure wall rocks moody blue hour nikon d850
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