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by Andy McInroy
Photograph Of The Month - May 2008
Dunluce Castle Sunset, Dunluce, County Antrim

Dunluce Castle Sunset
Dunluce, County Antrim

Technical Details
Date/Time: 8.28pm 17th April 2008
Exposure time: 10 seconds
Aperture: F16
Focal Length: 14mm (APS Sensor)
Lens: Pentax 14mm DA
Camera: Pentax K10D
Support: Tripod with cable release
Lee Neutral Density (3 stops, to lengthen exposure)
Lee Neutral Density Graduated (2 stops, to balance exposure)

Landscape Photograph
Landscape Photograph
Landscape Photograph

The Right Place
at the Right Time

Landscape photography can sometimes be a game of luck. If you are a patient photographer then simply being in the great outdoors for long enough can reward you with a spectacular shot. However, in my experience, there is another approach that gives a better chance of success. This alternative approach relies on research and pre-visualisation.

So, what research can a photographer do to improve their chances of being in the right place at the right time?

Firstly, I keep an ideas list. This is simply a list of potential locations with notes on the conditions I think are needed to photograph them. I then use a number of information sources to determine if the conditions are likely to be met. These include;

Weather forecasts
Tide tables
Surf forecasts
Air quality data
Sunset times and angles
Maps (OS, Google earth etc.)
Recce photographs and notes

While browsing through my list in late April, I noticed that Dunluce Castle on the North Antrim coast had some potential. The sun was swinging round to 290 degrees, thereby creeping past the castle headland. The weather was also promising with sunshine and showers forecast through the evening. Also, the easterly wind would protect me against the sea spray while looking towards the western sunset. My recce photographs from earlier in the year pointed me to a non-tidal ledge of rock on the east side of the cove which would make an ideal vantage point. I also noted that the ledge would be out of castle's shadow by April.

My research took me straight there with no messing about. I planted my tripod on the ledge at 8pm and by 9pm I had these four photographs in the bag. In retrospect, I would say that three of these images are the result of pre-visualisation and they have come out almost how I imagined. The fourth (IR334) was a bonus and not part of the plan. A pleasing distraction you could say.

So was I lucky? Perhaps. However, by pre-visualising the scene and doing your research you can increase your chances of being in the right place at the right time.

Text and photos © Andy McInroy