Kieran Hayes Photography, Photographer Clonakilty, West Cork, Cork | How it was done

How it was done

April 12, 2016  •  2 Comments

"clonakilty photographer", "West Cork Photographers", "Cork Photographers", "Photographers Ireland"Photography ExplainedLong exposure photography and how this photograph was captured explanation. This how to guide on an image captured by multi international award winning West Cork photographer Kieran Hayes based in Clonakilty, Cork, Ireland I get literally hundreds of messages a month on social media asking how did you do that? or more to the point how can i do that?


So I had a brainwave.... rather than answering one by one why not do a blog on it and save myself time :-)


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Firstly I took this Photography at Long Strand Beach, just outside Clonakilty, West Cork, Ireland.


You simple don't just go somewhere to take a photograph along the Wild Atlantic Way. You wait for the tide, the weather and the mood to be right. No matter what the weather there is always a quality photograph to be taken its just a matter of adopting to your surroundings and conditions but on this occasion I was waiting for exactly this. 


The first thing I always say about coastal photograph is respect the Sea. Its a mighty powerful beast and can surprise us all at times. Two rules I have are firstly never ever turn your back on the sea, I really mean NEVER. The second rule is if you think its not safe then it definitely isn't so move now.



So with dark heavy skies the mood was just perfect for this shot. 

The tide was about right with a good powerful swell behind it, the sort of waves that sends shivers down your spine and make the ground shake beneath your feet never mind making you question exactly why you are here in the first place all adding to the mood.

Anyway I had been watching the waves and waiting for this moment for about an hour. Taking photographs of the surrounding area

 while waiting for the tide to withdraw just enough to give this rock a bit of breathing room. Finally as the moment was nearly right I start working out light levels and what filters etc.. would be needed.


Looking at the speed of the water I was guessing about 1/4 to 1 second in length. Looking to maximize depth (depth of field) and still keep the image sharp with less defraction I kept the aperture to F11. the shutter speed was about 8 stops too high. I decided on a 6 stop lee nd filter with a Lee 0.75nd soft Graduated filter (2.5 stops nd filter) So with a quick test fire it was nearly right but just too dark. Increasing the ISO up to ISO100 from ISO64 was nearly perfect.


After selecting the Focus point about 7 metres from the camera  which would be approx 4 metres behind the rock and setting the camera to manual focus I moved towards the rock and waited for the swells to come in and stayed watching them for about 10 mins. I stepped out into the water and took position with the camera. I had a rather large stone with me. Once I found the position I was happy with I dropped the stone to mark my spot. every wave that came in caused me to retreat even though i had a good pair of wellies on :-). The quick release system on the lee filter holder is great for this purpose, along with the quick release plate on the Manfrotto Tripod.


So the position was set via the large stone Lee filters reinstalled and tripod attached. just needed the right wave now and then there it was. As soon as it slowed its climb up the beach i ran out to position dropped the tripod above the stone, leveled the camera and took two shots this was the second one. again as I said at the start if it doesn't feel safe it probably isn't, I got drowned about 3 seconds after taking that shot. The next wave came in about 6 inches over my wellies. There is always a trade off, this was a price worth paying though :-)


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Kieran Hayes Photography, Photographer Clonakilty, West Cork, Cork
Thanks for that John, ya its not a perfect shot by any means. I always find fault with a photo, This was taken mid day so the weather was as good as could be expected, I wasntreally looking for any golden light I just wanted an image that portrayed the wild atlantic way as is.

I see what you mean about the rock and that was something I had to deal with at the time the central light in the sky kind of forced that view for me and I could have cropped it out with a change of lens but I just stuck with my initial hunch. Sometimes that pays off and sometimes it doesnt.

Thanks for the input.
John Doe(non-registered)
Well captured wild seascape there, Kieran. Like the structure of the skies, heavy clouds give the whole scene a sinister look. Foreground is well executed as well, can't go wrong with shorter long exposures that create that lovely wave strikes. I see the rock in the middle left side as a problem though, it disrupts the overall composition, although it could be worse in the end.

All in all, not a perfect shot, but as you stated in the article, it was still worth it to get your feet soaked to achieve a shot like this. It would have been great to have some warmer colors on the horizon, that distinct pale orange line isn't just enough (that's the weather for you, right:). Perhaps next time when coming back to this location you'll be able to get more out of it.

For me I'd rate this as 7/10.


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Hello and welcome to my photography blog.


Most of my blogs posts are based on my experiences with my photography equipment or little tips and tricks I have learned over the years.


Based in Ireland on the Wild Atlantic Way my photography blog tends to focus on both how me and my equipment get really tested with the elements.


Clonakilty, West Cork is a photographers paradise and its one of the reasons I don't have to travel very far to get inspired.


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