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by Andy McInroy

Print Of The Month - August 2006

Landscape Photograph
Twilight Flow
Curran Strand, Whiterocks, Co. Antrim

Technical Details
Exposure time: 2 seconds
Aperture: f19
Focal Length: 16mm (APS sensor)
Lens: Pentax 16-45mm DA
Filtration: 2 stop neutral density graduate over sky

The Antrim coast of Ireland is renowned for its superb cliffs and beautiful beaches as well as the world famous Giant's Causeway. Curran Strand near Portrush is a golden sandy beach backed by an extensive dune system. At its far end are the dramatic White Rocks cliffs with numerous caves and sea arches. The whole area is packed with photographic potential and on this visit I was lucky to experience dramatic light breaking through the clearing cloud.

After spending an enjoyable hour on the cliff-top, photographing the White Rocks, I descended to the waters edge to make the most of the remaining twilight. With the sun now set, the sky was glowing deep red over the Skerries islands while in the foreground the sea was beginning to turn a beautiful turquoise.

I arranged my tripod at the waters edge looking towards the islands. I had to dodge the larger waves and also keep pulling my tripod out of the sand as it started to sink in with each incoming wave. I really must get some wellies! By placing a neutral graduated filter (3 stop) over the sky I was able to balance the exposure between the brighter sky and the sea. I then stopped down the aperture on my camera to f19 to allow an exposure of 2 seconds. This allowed a dramatic sweep of the sea to be captured.

Long exposures of sea can be difficult to get right. Too long an exposure and the waves turn to a uniform mist. Too short an exposure and the scene becomes static. Something in between is usually about right for this type of shot but timing is very important to record an image where the breaking waves still have a defined shape. I took perhaps 30 shots of this scene but this particular exposure was the one that stood out. It has managed to capture a beautiful sweeping wave which leads the eye out to sea. In some respects the sweep of the cloud above mirrors that of the wave and provides a nice balance to the composition.

Text and photos © Andy McInroy