One of my favourite places to shoot the ocean and the coast is Algarve and the West Coast of Portugal on an Iberian Peninsula. One can find here Europe’s most beautiful and unspoilt stretches of coastline. There are some truly tranquil places here and finding your own secluded bay for photographing seascapes is not difficult. The coast’s ever changing environment with plenty of sunshine and some passing storms is very important for achieving some creative seascapes. It is not an easy environment to photograph, but its variety allows employing many techniques and use of lenses from ultra wide to long zooms. The crashing waves, colourful sailboats, sparkling blue water, seabirds cruising, colourful seaweed and rocks in all shapes and forms – all that combined with a mild climate creates a paradise for a photographer. Staying away from well trodden areas and discovering hidden treasures only known to locals allowed me to bring some unique pictures of these unspoiled places.
Dreamy and ethereal sea mist encountered near Monte Clerigo on Costa Vicentina created the mysterious mood. I find long zooms very useful for photographing mist, as these lenses, despite the restricted depth of field, compress the perspective making the mist look thicker. I take special care when metering in such situations, as mist may full the camera.
I always look out for interesting features such as rocks to help anchor my composition. This particular rock is in Alvor, on Algarve coast. The light here was still a bit harsh but combined with a fast shutter speed I achieved the required effect of power and movement.
Depending on the weather and the shapes of the waves, sometimes I use a high shutter speed (approximately 1/300s) to freeze the motion of the waves, but on the other hand, slower shutter speed can create unexpected, pleasing results. It can be a bit of hit and miss, but it is well worth experimenting.
Here I used the technique called “Intentional Camera Movement” (ICM). So fashionable nowadays, ICM is like marmite, either you love it or hate it. For me it is great fun. Long drag allowed me to achieve some truly impressionistic images.
Wet rocks are great for reflecting the sunlight and showing textures – tactile quality appealing to our senses. Warm sunset light is ideal for this type of photos as the highlights are not going to be blown out. I find spot metering more effective here, as wet rocks tend to be quite dark.
As the sun was going down rather rapidly, I had to shoot with reasonable speed. Backlit rocks were underexposed but that was useful for creating silhouettes. As the sun approached the horizon, the predominant red wavelength made everything glow red and golden so there was no need to boost the saturation in the post processing.
Tripod was essential for this long exposure in the evening – obviously Manfrotto was my preferred choice! Tripod tends to sinks in the sand during long exposure, so I pushed the legs into sand as much as possible to gain some stability. I also used remote release and lifted the mirror to avoid shake.
The main factor contributing to this successful image near Benagil in Algarve was the perfect timing – I was lucky that the moon was in this position approximately 30 minutes after sunset. It was so bright that a fast shutter speed allowed me to take this picture without showing the movement of the moon.
About the author: Beata Moore is a professional photographer and writer. She has written a number of books including “The Channel Islands”, “Portrait of Wimbledon”, “The Square Mile – photographic portrait of the City”, “Cracow: City of Treasures”, “A Year in the life of the New Forest” and “A Year in the Life of the Cotswolds”.