I’ve been meaning to get some long exposure sea shots around here for months, but it’s been so wet and windy since we got back from Canada. There was a good opportunity a few days ago though – not quite clear skies, but at least dry and some reasonable surf to capture.
There’s really only two places to get the best views of the Tintagel Island and the footbridge to the mainland. The shots from Barras Nose (the headland just behind the footbridge in these pictures) are always good, as you can see the island, the bridges, the church (St Materiana’s) and our waterfall on to the beach at Tintagel Haven. The problem is that the cove is generally quite shady, especially early morning or late afternoon, because the sun generally rises behind the hills and sets behind the island. So, the better location is up on Glebe Cliff, where that side of the island gets the light at both sunrise and sunset.
Both these pictures were taken from Glebe Cliff using my D810 and 16-35mm f/4 lens at 24mm, and with a 10-stop ND filter. The first image was taken in the morning, about 1½ hours after sunrise, using f/8, ISO 80 and a 10s exposure. The normal light was around EV 13, which drops to about EV 3 with the ND filter – hence the long exposure. I took a number of shots at 1s, 2.5s, 5s, 10s and 20s to see which came out best. Whereas a lot of my painterly waterfall images might use a range from 1/8s to 1/2s to get a good sense of milky water but with good detail still, my sea/surf images tend to work better at a lower speed of 2.5s to 10s. It’s all to do with the speed of the water – crashing waves are slower than falling waterfalls, and therefore appear better at lower shutter speeds. You always have to experiment each time though.
The second photo was taken later in the day, about an hour before sunset. The light was a bit brighter and more dramatic, but the surf was not quite as large as in the morning. It was taken using f/8, ISO 100 and a 5s exposure. Ideally, I would have preferred the late afternoon shot with the morning surf! That’s why we have to go back again and again to places to capture the perfect event in the perfect light!
It was stormy and very wet for the whole four days that we were on Vancouver Island - none of which helps with getting good shots! We were staying right on the coast in Ucluelet, which linked straight in to the Wild Pacific Trail, and it was certainly very wild. This first shot was down near the lighthouse on Amphitrite Point, as the waves crashed on to the rocks. I liked this particular image as there is also a black Cormorant flying in front of the surf. This was taken on my D500 and 200-500mm f/5.6 lens at 200mm, f/5.6, 1/640s and ISO 100. We also caught a fleeting glimpse of a Bald Eagle here, flying through the coastal trees, very close by, but not for long enough to capture anything. We had also seen one near Banff a few weeks earlier, but again only for a few minutes and not close enough to get any nice photos.
We spent another few hours on the Wild Pacific Trail, but saw no whales or seals in the sea and nothing on land. There lots of signs about the bears, cougars and wolves, but they were all clearly keeping well out of the way too. This was probably good news about the cougars and wolves, but just a glimpse of a Black Bear would have been nice!
Anyway, we did see this pair of White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) just on the way back in to the town – eating grass by the roadside, without a care for anyone around. Both pictures were taken with the same D500 and telephoto zoom combination, using 350-450mm, f/5.6, 1/640s and ISO 1400, as it was quite shady and dull in the drizzle. The female (or doe) was slightly smaller with no antlers, while the male (or buck) had antlers; quite small ones though – so, he was presumably still young.
When we got down to Earls Cove to catch the very early, first ferry of the day, it was completely foggy, but just as the sun rose, the whole area was covered in a lovely cloud or temperature inversion. This is where the higher air is warmer than the cooler water in the bay, producing those beautiful low-hanging clouds – all very typical of an autumnal early morning around water.
The Sunshine Coast Highway 101 simply stops at Earls Cove and you have to get the ferry across to Saltery Bay, where the road picks up again. We then drove around to Powell River and caught the much larger ferry across the Salish Sea to Comox on Vancouver Island – more of that in my next blogs!
This photo was taken from the first ferry, looking back towards Earls Cove and the rising sun, using my 24-70mm f/2.8 at 31mm, f/13, 1/250s and ISO 64.
A couple of days later, before we left the Skookumchuck Narrows and caught the ferry across to Vancouver Island, we were again down by the water’s edge looking for watery wildlife. This time another Harbour Seal came right up to the shore having just caught a large salmon. It seemed to play with it for quite a while, swimming around with it in its mouth, as can be seen in the first image. Then, just a minute later, it started to rip the flesh off the fish and began to eat, as captured in the second photo. The seal then quickly disappeared under the water and swam away. We didn’t see it finish eating the fish – does it eat underwater, probably not. It must have swum across somewhere else to conclude its meal in peace.
Unfortunately, the key moments were when it ventured in to the very shady areas next to the shore, meaning I had to bump the ISO up to around 3,200. If only it had stayed in the late afternoon sunshine, I could have caught it all at ISO 100, instead of the 5 stops lower light level in the shade. Otherwise, both pictures were taken on my D500 with the 200-500mm f/5.6 lens at 500mm, f/5.6 and 1/800s. They are both a little bit grainy for my liking, even after some noise reduction processing in Lightroom – but that’s more acceptable for wildlife shots, than it ever would be for landscapes!
Almost finished processing all my photos from our trip to Western Canada last October! In to the final stretch now as we’ve finished crossing the Rockies and made our way down towards Vancouver Island.
Having not seen any bears in the mountains, it was good to see some watery wildlife around Egmont, which is just off the Salish Sea between Vancouver Island and the mainland. We were at a beautifully remote spot overlooking the Skookumchuck Narrows, with other inlets and mountains as a fantastic backdrop.
This first shot was taken at dawn using my 16-35mm f/4 lens on a D810. The sun was rising on the right, but was causing the clouds on the left to glow orange – all very atmospheric, especially with the low clouds after the cool night. It was taken at 18mm, f/11, 0.4s and ISO 64.
Later that afternoon, as the sun was starting to set, we were down by the water’s edge looking for seals or sea lions. Suddenly, a majestic Great Blue Heron flew by and stood not far from us, looking for food on the foreshore. And, then a short while later we saw two Harbour Seals tussling over a large fish (a salmon, presumably) that they had both caught in their mouths! The greyer one on the left had one end of the fish, while the blacker one on the right had the other end. They circled each other for a while and then disappeared under the water – no idea who won! It was only on processing it today though that I saw it was a fish that they were squabbling over. These were both taken on my D500 with the 200-500mm f/5.6 lens at 500mm, f/5.6, 1/800s and ISO 100. Not surprisingly, this lens does have its best optics when wide open and fully zoomed out, which is where people would actually use it most often.
I wasn't quite close enough for both the wildlife shots (nothwithstanding the "effective" 750mm zoom on my DX camera and lens combination) and so, I also cropped them to 3000 by 2,000 pixels, which is the smallest size that I can sell on Alamy. This is still plenty large enough to print out at high-quality at around A3 size.