Feeling Itchy

From a photographic perspective, things have been quiet.  A combination of a busy schedule, a change in priorities, and a general lack of motivation, has meant that I have not shot an image for months.

Here we are, over four months into 2015, and photographically I have nothing to show for it.

Until now, that is.

Tonight for the first time this year, I published a new image, one captured this year.

We have family in town, and our visitors are staying in an apartment close to the Sydney.  From their balcony, there is a magnificent view of the Sydney skyline, from the ANZAC Bridge across to much of the city.

Tonight while visiting, I decided to shoot some twilight images of the city, and here is what I shot:

The View Sucks

The View Sucks

This is just a small part of the view from the balcony, shot with a telephoto lens to hone in on some of the skyline as twilight descended.

Over the past few days, I’ve been starting to develop an itch — the kind which makes me want to get back into photography again.  It’s all a balancing act, but I have some time off, and soon I plan to start experimenting with something I’ve not done before.

I am successful, it will be a new style of photography for me.  It’s something I’ve seen and quite liked, and while it’s been done before, and done very well, it hasn’t yet been done by me.

So, perhaps a new photographic project, combined with some time to re-engage, will get me back into the process of image making.

I might even find the inspiration to shoot a seascape again, too!

Turimetta Swell

This is an image I shot in January of 2012 at Sydney’s well-photographed Turimetta Beach.

Turimetta Swell

Turimetta Swell

This particular scene is further away from the main gorge and rocks featured in so many images.

The morning brought a few successful images, but this one had sat untouched and unpublished for the past three years.

A moody, rain-laden sky combined with a decent swell made for some pleasing cascades and flows along the rock shelf towards North Narrabeen.

Which Filters for Landscape Photographers?

A discussion about creative filters on an Internet forum got me thinking, and prompted me to post a quick article here on a question new landscape/seascape/cityscape photographers often ask: Which filters should I buy?

I personally recommend Lee filters (although I have a HiTech filter in my rig), and use the Lee filter holder and adapter ring.

I shoot cityscapes, landscapes and seascapes, and generally don’t use graduated ND filters for cityscapes, as I tend to only shoot at twilight, or otherwise when the light is soft and low in contrast.

For landscape and seascape images, particularly when shooting towards the brighest part of the sky, I recommend the following kit:

  1. 1.2 (four-stop) soft GND;
  2. 0.9 (three-stop) soft GND;
  3. 0.6 (two-stop) soft GND;
  4. two 0.9 (three-stop) ND; and
  5. ten-stop ND.

Apart from the 1.2 GND, this is the combination I use.  (At the time I bought my filters, the 1.2 GND may not have been available.)

I sometimes stack both of my grads, which provides for a five-stop transition.

My view is that 0.3 (one-stop) grads are useless in harsh Australian light.  For the money a good grad filter costs, I’d recommend something far more effective.

Some people recommend using hard grads for scenes with flat horizons (eg, ocean views), but in my experience of having shot a lot of seascape images, I’ve never found soft grads to be lacking.  Soft grads offer more flexibility and a less-pronounced transition between filtered and unfiltered subject matter.

Now, Lee filters are not particularly cheap, and buying all of the above equipment will be a rather expensive undertaking; so if I had to recommend a single filter to someone whose budget is only so accommodating, I would recommend the 0.9 soft grad.

Similarly, if someone could only have one neutral-density filter, I’d recommend 0.9.

A three-stop filter of either kind provides a good middle-of-the-road approach if one’s limitation is a single filter.

Natutrally, a photographer will quickly find a single filter limiting, but as a starting point it will provide sufficient flexibility.