Blackpool is easily seen from Southport on a clear day. It’s only 9 or 10 miles away as the crow flies (or the fool walks), but it’s a circuitous route around the Ribble Estuary to actually get there. So this is the long end of my longest zoom to see the skyline from all the way down on Ainsdale beach. The sky was clouded over bringing a soft light and gentle contrasts. I hunkered down between the marram clumps to place the view in context and balanced the marram, sea, skyline and sky for this shot.
The Southport coastline can be a little featureless, so I’m always on the lookout for something to add a little interest to these images. To be honest, I love the minimal style that this coast imposes on me, but the eye needs a focus and a direction.
I love these heavily cloud covered seas because the darkness of the sky is reflected in the sea, giving a wonderful dark line along the horizon. In contrast, the gentle slope of the beach provides a soft white line of tide rather than the athletic waves of other coastlines.
In combination the grass and sky provide the layers and the dark and white lines provide a focus for the eye to rest on.
The Sefton coast is a vast space, and once the autumn chill sets in the beach is largely deserted. On an overcast but warm autumn day you will see the occasional visitor loitering along the water’s edge. The tide comes in so gently on this gently sloping beach that it’s a rather tranquil experience standing and watching the water lap gently closer and closer to the tide line.
With the flat light on the surface of the water the sky and sea blend almost seamlessly into one vast bright plane of soft colour and light. The couple standing at the water bring a sense of scale and perspective to the image.
The vastness of the Sefton dunes is rarely broken, but in one or two places there runs a thin ribbon of wire supported on wooden fence posts. From a distance these fences leave barely a trace on the landscape of marram grass. But, get up close to a single post, and the grass becomes the backdrop, and the post becomes the focus.
The Marine Lake in Southport is surrounded by a series of Victorian shelters – designed to allow the discerning visitor to the town to take in the view whilst keeping the worst excesses of the weather at bay. Time, wind, rain and neglect have left these shelters in a rather forlorn state – weather beaten and paint peeled and generally the worse for wear. They still do the same job, but not with the same panache that they would have done in their heyday…
I’m still fascinated by the interplay of marram, sand, sea & sky that presents itself at Ainsdale Beach near Southport. On a good day the sky is cloudy, the tide is in, and the beach is empty. The heavy clouds seem to balance the foreground marram and the sand and sea sit neatly in between.
This photo was taken a while ago using my preferred technique of ETTR (expose to the right). This generally gives my a light and airy starting point for processing the image. On this shot I decided to push the contrast a little more than usual to give a more punchy feel to the image.
Due to its proximity to home sweet home I’ve been out again along the big bank towards Banks just to the north of Southport. It’s a vast landscape, with sweeping views across to Blackpool: you can see the tower and the roller coaster clearly against the skyline. But it’s the detail and the light which make this such a fascinating spot for photography. As I’ve often mentioned, there’s not a lot of foreground interest along the north Sefton/Lancashire coast. It’s flat and quite featureless. So, it’s necessary to make use of every little thing (and a long depth of field) to get a striking shot.
This is the same drop of water as seen in the previous shot, but looking along the near edge away from the sunset. I hope you enjoy it…
In the hope of bagging a bright and colourful sunset full of spectacular reds and golds I tramped off along the big bank that runs from The Plough roudabout around the village of Banks and off towards Hesketh Bank. Running along the edge of this bank, in parts, is a low lying area that fills with water, mainly tidal as this area is all close to sea level. Although fairly small in terms of area, as a foreground element it works really well for my sort of minimal landscapes. I generally use a medium ND graduated filter to balance the sky, but in the case of this image I also took multiple exposures.
It’s an HDR, using 3 shots to slightly improve the dynamic range. I’ve finally bitten the bullet and got CS6 to go with Lightroom, so I can merge to HDR in PS and then drop the 32 bit file back into LR for processing. Rather than ramp up the contrast on this image I’ve actually lowered the contrast significantly to try and produce a softer view of the sunset – this is probably more like what I actually saw than some of the other images that I will post later on… 😉