Behind the Image

Posted on April 9, 2015

Path to nowhere

I’m very grateful to get positive feedback about some of my Long Exposure images and this one that I did this weekend has seemed to be very popular on my website and various Social Media platforms so I thought I’d write a quick blog post “Behind the Image”about where the image above was taken and the gear and process used to take the image.

So this was taken on the beach at Lyme Regis in Dorset. It’s basically a concrete wall / Groyne that is approximately a metre wide and runs right out into the sea, occasionally stepping down as it goes out, you can see it quite clearly if you zoom in on google maps (image below)

Lyme Regis Beach


So I walked along it and sat myself down on a part where it steps down and set up my camera, Nikon D810 on a Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball head and Gitzo systematic tripod. For this I was using my 16-35mm lens. I then added my remote cable shutter release which is preferable when doing long exposures as – 1. it stops the camera moving if you were to try and press the shutter button on the camera body which could introduce camera shake into the image and 2. It has a timer display on it so I know exactly how long I’m doing each exposure. Next I attached my Lee filter holder. As the morning was very overcast I knew that I wouldn’t need a strong grad to hold back the sky from blowing the highlights so I went with a 2 stop hard grad and with that I used a Formatt-Hitech Pro IRND 6 stop filter to allow the longer exposure time. For anyone new to this type of photography basically using a 3, 6 or 10 stop neutral density filter allows the shutter to be open for longer periods of time without flooding the sensor with light and completely blowing the capture. Using them on their own or in various combinations then increases the length of time you can expose for. In it’s simplest terms it’s like fitting your camera with a pair of sunglasses!

Right gear all set up I determined an exposure of around 10 seconds would be right  so pushed the shutter and locked it open for 10 seconds. Below is the result. This is a JPEG of the original RAW file, crooked horizon and all!



So onto editing. I’m not a really experienced user of Photoshop so do most of my editing in Lightroom 5 and then maybe take the image into Photoshop to do a levels adjustment or a curves adjustment and use the spot removal tool which I find a little bit better than the Lightroom equivalent. So I removed the majority of the seagull poop from the top and then slightly darkened the clouds in the sky and the overall look of the image to try and make it look more moody. I then used the radial filter in Lightroom to lighten the middle of the image slightly to bring out the swell detail, straightened the horizon and sharpened to my own tastes and thats about it. I have put below two versions of the image that I like, a straightforward export in the same dimensions and a square crop, I like the square crop because it makes the wall more prominent and also brings the little boat on the horizon more into the frame.

Edit 1

Path to nowhere


Camera: Nikon D810, Lens: 16-35mm f4, Focal length: 16mm, Aperture: f/11, ISO: 64, Exposure time: 10 seconds

So that’s really, No rocket science involved just practise. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and please feel free to leave a comment or ask any questions.





2 Responses to Behind the Image

Damien Davis

April 9, 2015 at 12:52 pm

Hey Richard, thanks for sharing the background behind this wonderful image. It’s a cracking shot and a great blog article, which is immensely helpful to aspiring landscape photographers, looking to recreate a similar scene. Of course, the conditions play a big part as well, but the composition of your original shot (and the square crop) work very well and use the “Rule Of Thirds” perfectly with both the level of the horizon (once edited) and the position of the small boat. Nice work!



August 6, 2015 at 10:14 am

Stumbled in to your website when discovering your art work @Flickr! So recognisable story! Nice behind the scenes story and explanation. I am with you on the post processing, more into Lightroom as well but too clean up some messy things than photoshop comes in. Nice work! Nice shots and good readings!


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