We've had pretty grim weather here in Scarborough for the past few weeks, more or less non stop rain, cold, grim, dreich weather. Today was no different, non stop rain from leaving the house at 8.30am till I got back around 5pm.
In times like this the grey skies we get can look boring in a colour shot unless there happens to be some sun cast on them. In conditions like this I tend to look to take photographs in black and white. I find working in B&W quite refreshing, you can't rely on pretty colours to make a shot, it is down to textures and contrasts to get a good result. I always shoot in raw so don't have to change the way I work, just envisage what a scene will look like devoid of colour.
This morning I ventured up to Saltburn to one of my favourite spots, Saltburn Pier. I've taken a few nice shots of the pier, at night it is fantastically lit. I wanted to do something a bit different this time, and in daylight.
I positioned myself right underneath the pier, at the land end, looking out to sea. Sitting on the sand I set up in a landscape format and framed the shot so that the first pier support was right in the centre of the frame. Symmetry was important so I took a while to ensure the support was slap bang in the middle. Cloud acts as a huge softbox for the sun so is an overcast day is often very bright, if I'd exposed for the sky I'd have been left with a silhouette of the framework, expose for the framework and the sky would have been blown out (pure white, no detail). Instead I took 5 frames at different exposures from very dark to very bright. I then combined these frames with Photomatix software in a process called High Dynamic Range or HDR. From there I converted the resulting image to black and white, here it is:
Later in the day I returned to Scarborough where the rain eventually lifted but left a wonderful stormy sky. I used a 3 stop hard edged Lee graduated ND filter to retain detail in the sky and a 3 stop ND filter to keep some movement in the sea. Once at home I used Silver Efex software to give a grainy high contrast black and white effect.
As a landscape photographer in the UK you have to work with what is available, it would be lovely to have amazing blue skies and clear seas but since that isn't often the case it is an enjoyable challenge.