I first visited Talacre Lighthouse in 2019 during sunset. It was a fantastic evening where the sky erupted and filled with gorgeous red and orange tones. This was the beginning of my relationship with Talacre Beach as I began to understand the photographic potential of this wonderful coastal location. You may have seen my images from the evening on my blog. However if you are new to my website you can read about the adventure and peruse the images I made in this post.
Todays coastal adventure is quite the opposite. The weather forecast this afternoon is far from spectacular. Overcast, low cloud, light winds and cool temperatures would be the better description. Basically a very grey day and most definitely no colour to get excited about. In fact when I told my family that I was spending the afternoon on the beach they told me I was crazy! Hot sunny days with clear blue sky may be good for building sandcastles and sunbathing however they are not the preferred conditions for a spot of landscape photography.
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Where is Talacre Lighthouse?
Talacre Lighthouse, officially known as the Point of Ayr Lighthouse is situated on the north coast of Wales, on the Point of Ayr and close to the village of Talacre. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1844 and is now a privately owned grade II listed building. The lighthouse towers around 18 meters out of the sand and is the beaches most prominent feature. Legend has it the lighthouse is haunted with several sightings over the years of ghostly figures looking out from the balcony.
Talacre Beach is a short walk from the car parking area. You can either meander your way over the wooden board walk which provides a view of the Talacre lighthouse peeking over the top of the sand dunes or you can walk through the carpark and between the dunes onto the beach.
The beach is very much a tourist destination with miles of golden sand. There are a number of caravan parks in the vicinity with quite an influx of people visiting during the summer months.
Is Planning an Image Important?
Most of my photography is based upon the turn up and see what you can find methodology. That said there are certain images that you need to plan. For instance following my sunset visit to Talacre a few years ago I decided I wanted to create an image of the lighthouse surrounded by smooth silky water. Full of enthusiasm I visited again the very next day to find the lighthouse surrounded by golden sand and a few puddles of water. I know, a schoolboy error on my part and one that I am not going to forget in a hurry. Sometimes you drop lucky but I really should have checked the tide times! If you want to know more about the Talacre tide times you will find a 7 day tide forecast on the beach guide website.
Photos That Tell A Story
Just like a good book, storytelling images have a begging, middle and end. Or in photography terms foreground, mid-ground and background.
The foreground is said to be the closest subject to the camera. The aim of the foreground is to grab your attention and introduce you to the scene. In this image you can see how I have used a cluster of seaweed to grab your attention before letting your eye wander through the calmness of the ocean and onto the main subject being the Talacre lighthouse in the distance.
Explore the Shore
If you spend a few minutes exploring the shore you will soon realise that the fringe of land at the edge of the ocean is constantly changing and evolving. In Talacre the lie of the land, or should that be sand? is considerably flat in places. Therefore the tide rises and falls at a very fast pace. The dramatic change can make photographing the shoreline quite a difficult task. For example take your time on an incoming tide and your subject will soon be buried in water. Similarly for an out going tide we could find the ocean falling short of our desired composition.
You have probably gathered by now that our shores are full of interesting elements that we can include in our photographic compositions. Next time you are at the beach see what you can find to use as foreground interest in your photos. The following points could be a start;
- Leading Lines
Talacre Lighthouse – Minimalist Photography
The conditions this afternoon are perfect for black and white minimalist photography. Therefore there is no time like the present to try and photograph the high tide silky smooth water image that I have been visualising for so long.
Shooting The Image
- To eliminate distractions I chose to to compose my image looking down the line of concrete blocks leading up to the lighthouse.
- Placing the lighthouse in the centre of the frame increases its visual weight and introduces horizontal symmetry into the image.
- Shooting in monochrome ensures distracting colours are removed from the image.
- The shadow of the lighthouse on the surface of the water acts as a leading line helping to guide your eye into the scene.
- An exposure time of 30 seconds smooths out the ocean waves resulting in silky soft water.
Talacre Lighthouse – Long Exposure
The only way to create soft smooth and silky water is to use a slow shutter speed. The longer the camera shutter remains open the smoother and flatter the ocean will be. As we gain experience with long exposures a clear understanding of the initial camera settings to try will become apparent. If you are just starting out try to use a low ISO and a stopped down aperture, let’s say f/11 or f 16 as a start.
Although today is an overcast grey day I couldn’t achieve the 30 second shutter speed I needed without using a neutral density filter. Similar to a pair of sunglasses, neutral density filters block out a defined amount of light dependant on the strength of the filter. ND filters come in a range of strengths with the most common blocking out between 1 and 15 stops of light. For these images I used my ND1000 filter which blocks out 10 stops of light.
Retreating To The Dunes
At the back of Talacre Beach you will find a number of sand dunes. The dunes are classified as an Area of Special Scientific Interest and home to one of Wales rare creatures, the Natterjack toads. Natterjack toads became extinct in Wales during the 1960’s and have been reintroduced to the area in recent years. The toads now share their habitat with several other species including several species of migrant birds. The dunes are therefore also popular among the bird watching community and wildlife photographers.
If you have enjoyed reading about my adventures please consider leaving a comment below. I would love to hear from you. I have loads of content still to come and plenty of hints, tips and stories I am looking forward to sharing with you over the coming weeks so I do hope you will stick around.
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Until next time. Ciao for now..
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