Shutter Speeds – Go Long, Go Short? Dublin Bay Easterly Wind

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Shutter Speeds – Go Long, Go Short? Dublin Bay Easterly Wind

There’s nothing quite like a big easterly wind to transform Dublin Bay. I can’t understate what a difference it makes to the position of the sea, especially at high tide when the swell rushes into the most fantastic positions. Amazing foregrounds abound. We were lucky enough to have a whole week of these wonderful winds beginning Feb 8th and I made sure to get out every day and say hello to the swell.

With Rachael Talibart and her infamy around stormy seascapes, plus Alister Benn and his thoughtful holistic approach to landscape photography both coming to ExploreLight in April, I thought it would make sense to approach this week’s blog with sea and atmospheric energy in mind.

Cold, dramatic, windy and wild the only people in Dublin that were happy were the photographers. My wife couldn’t quite understand the excitement.

Then again she’s used to my unconventional love of unpleasant weather. The images that follow were captured in Salthill, Monkstown on the south side of Dublin Bay. The location is usually filled with swimmers even through the winter, but on this occasion, I mostly had the place to myself bar a few brave souls.

I have lots more images to share from this location but I thought, for now, it might be useful to just look at two. Both shot from the exact same position but with very different energies, different intention. One to exhibit the powerful energy of the sea, another to show the perfect calm and peace within the storm.  Shot minutes apart creative choices made possible with different Lee filters to capture different shutter speeds. Plus of course a very different approach to processing in each image.

Please keep reading on for all that technical stuff including shooting technique plus some discussion around Lightroom and Photoshop.

Salthill Monkstown, Dublin, Ireland 

Its amazing how much swell was pounding over these wee steps. The white water merges into a uniform blanket and the shape and power of the ocean are unrecognisable in the long exposure. I already had my Lee Poloriser on so I’ve just added a 3 stop and changed the aperture and ISO to help me slow things down a bit more.  Even if the ocean is rough and wild and feels completely out of control I have to say I feel totally calm and at peace in this weather. The choice of filter, and the resulting slower shutter speed, give me the opportunity to express this sense of calm. Processing-wise, I’ve gone with quite a high key look, and I’ve tried to keep shape and contrast in the railings while letting the surrounding water slip away even further.

Nikon d850, 24mm PC Lens f16, 20 seconds, iso 32, .Lee Filters 6 medium grad, poloriser, 3 stop ND 

Salthill Monkstown, Dublin, Ireland 

A much quicker shutter speed and a much more recognisable ocean. When the water is really moving around like this I like a shutter speed of around 1 second to capture the motion. Everything gets nice and blurry but it still maintains lots of texture in the sea, and as such it really communicates the power of the ocean. I know everyone rushes out to buy the Big and Little Stopper first, but its difficult to capture images like this with those stronger filters. There’s just too much filtration at sunrise or sunset and exposure times become too long. Now don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t leave home without my 6 or 10 stop but having a poloriser (1.5 – 2 stops change), or a 3 stop in your filters kit is the perfect foil for shutter speeds like this. Strong enough to slow your shutter speed down, but not so strong to make the shutter speed really long and the ocean flat. I’m not saying there’s an optimal shutter speed here, just options, and they allow you to communicate different atmospheres within your images. I actually processed this image in black and white first using my luminosity masks for dodging and burning. I find editing in black and white first helps me to see the contrast that bit better. Something I learned from the amazing Joel Tjintjelaar. Once I have the shape of the image the way I like it I drop a colour version on top and change the blend mode to colour. The colour is added to the black and white image but the contrast stays the same. Reducing the opacity on the colour layer just leaves a nice hint and this can be tweaked with white balance change too.

Nikon d850, 24mm PC lens f10 0.8 seconds, ISO 200, poloriser, Lee Filters .6 medium grad

The locals ..

Dedicated or insane? I’ll let you guys decide. All year swimming is certainly a thing in Dublin ..

Alister Benn and Rachael Talibart

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