Adam Perfect


St. Mary’s Island low tide

Fujifilm X-T3, 25.7mm, 1/480s, f/8.0, ISO 160

Back on the local coastal theme, here’s an image from St. Mary’s Island during a low tide last week. I need to let it settle, but at the moment I think it’s one of my favourite images this year and I wasn’t even trying to get it.

As we arrived, there was a bit of fret out to sea with some kind of sea platform (my shipping knowledge is weak) on the move, just on the horizon. It looked really interesting, sitting in amongst the mist, so I wanted to make some images of it but hadn’t brought a long lens with me. 

Instead, I had taken the 16-55mm F2.8 on my Fuji X-T3: knowing it was low tide, I had more been thinking about photos of the kids in amongst the rock pools and maybe some more low, wide-angle landscape shots amongst the rocks too.

The largely bright conditions weren’t encouraging me towards yet more photos of the lighthouse.

Walking along the promenade from the car park, I missed one decent angle chasing a toddler and then managed to fire off a quick set of hand-held frames at the top of the causeway, to include both the lighthouse and the platform in the mist.

We carried on, had a fun clamber among the rock pools, saw a glimpse of some seals and then headed home for lunch.

Later that evening, I imported the photos to Lightroom and set off a merge-to-panorama task for the hand-held shots while I went through marking selects.

A promising composition

Once the pano stitch completed I quite liked the composition, especially after refining it to a 7:6 crop—having shot a little with my Bronica GS-1 recently, the ratio has been front of mind—and so I began quickly experimenting with post-processing.

The conditions were quite flat so the image in colour was a little ‘meh’ but, again, I liked something about the composition. 

The causeway leading diagonally up to the lighthouse is an obvious leading line, however what I had missed (consciously at least) when taking the photo and indeed in post-processing until I converted to black and white, was the matching diagonal edge of the cloud bank on the left that also leads down to the tip of the lighthouse.

Monochrome makes it

I have a preset I developed when processing some of the images in Week notes #5 for high-contrast sunny days, called ‘ACROS crunch’. The hint being in its name, it builds on the lovely Fujifilm ACROS film profile and then crunches down the shadows for some real depth, among a couple of other minor alterations.

Once I hovered over the preset in Lightroom and got the preview applied on this photo, the image completely clicked together for me.

The converging leading lines on the lighthouse from causeway and cloud, the trident of the platform sitting in the mist at sea, and the lighthouse itself standing out bright amongst the deep, dark rocks that surround it just work.

I love the little highlight where the white keeper’s house reflects in the shallow pool next to the causeway, and that there’s just a nice bloom of sand either side of that causeway in the foreground, giving both contrast to frame the road as it leads into the image and some lighter tones to balance the lower half of the frame which otherwise could be too heavy.

Applying a critical eye

I really only have two nitpicks about this image for now, neither of which diminish my enjoyment of it though I reserve the right to change my mind and try removing them later.

First, the standing stone on the right edge is a distraction. It is a significant object that exists in the scene and so I have left it in for now, but it does detract and distract a little from the composition.

Secondly, there are a couple of odd rocks catching light amongst the dark swathe in the middle ground which almost have the same effect as stuck pixels once you notice them. These I have less issue with spot-healing away, so I’ll probably do that at some point before printing.

A surprising favourite

I love the potential for an image (or set of images) you have taken yourself to still surprise you after the fact. In a rush and going through the motions a bit, I wouldn’t have expected anything special to come from this morning and yet—as I mentioned at the start—I think this is one of my favourite images so far in 2020.

Written by Adam on

Adam is a Director of User Experience by day and photographer as time allows.

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