Evolution of an Image

06th February 2018
Last Saturday I went to visit a place I've been meaning to go to for awhile now. I brought the camera but I didn't really expect to use it much. The priority was to go and see somewhere new, and I had this preconceived idea that it wouldn't be an area ideally suited to photography. I got that part very wrong.

The cove in question is nice but not utterly amazing from a landscape photography point of view. But either side of it are high cliffs stretching both east and west, and on this particular evening I walked out to the east and found one of the most incredible natural features I've ever seen. And the backdrop is gorgeous too. And the setting sun backlit the whole scene. Bingo!

Saturday evening - nice drama in the sky but an almighty shower came in just as the sun was about to appear.

For me this arrangement of rocks is up there with the Beara Bowl in terms of geologic wonders. It's as though it was put together by a human sculptor with an eye for aesthetics. But on Saturday evening I didn't do it justice. In my defence the weather went foul before I could do much more. You can see the first bits of hail streaking across this image and for the following twenty minutes I stood over the camera as a shelter from the heavy shower and howling wind. I still have chilblains on my fingers from the cold! After the shower passed the light wasn't as good and the wind picked up. Nonetheless I knew I'd found something that would draw me back again.

Sunday evening - better composition but empty sky.

The big problem with Saturday's image is the composition. It's alright but those rocks needed more space in the scene. The whole image revolves around their amazing arrangement and I had to get that across. So I went back on Sunday evening with a wide lens on to see if I could improve the view. I did find a much more balanced composition that gave the standing stones more impact, but the sky was empty. Landscape photographers are extremely difficult to please. Empty blue skies are boring but too much cloud is often boring too. What I want for this scene is a sky filled with dark, textrous clouds but also for a gap near the horizon where the sun can sneak in, bursting through to light the grasses and cast shadows of the spikes. It's not much to ask is it?

Monday went by with no hope of a colourful sunset but today had promise. So I headed out again, lens at the ready, filters and glass wiped squeaky clean, camera bag full to act as ballast - that long coastal grass is hard to steady a light tripod on and the wind was back. I arrived as a shower sailed by to the west. I set up excitedly and waited for the sun to reappear. It was a case of third time lucky.

Tuesday evening - improved sky but still not 100%.

This can still be better. The sun could be lower, the light could be warmer, the sky could be darker... But it's alright for now. I'm not sure if I prefer the second or third version. The cloud from the third dropped into the second would be closer to ideal. Or even the cloud from the first dropped into the second without blocking the sun. I mentioned how it's not too much to ask didn't I?

For the next eight months or so the sun will be setting too far to the west for this scene to work the way I want it. I found the place just in time. Now it's another area on the ever-growing list of places I need to go back to for better light. I'll never get to all of them but I think I'll keep this one as a priority.

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