One of my favourite things to see on the coast is marram grass. The North West coast of England is suffused with sand dunes and marram – that’s where the name of my photography business came from. It’s not so common on this side of the Irish Sea, but on a visit to Murlough Bay a few weeks ago I was delighted not only to find acres of marram and gorse, but also to see that the Mourne Mountains still had a dusting of snow on top. Put two of my favourite things to photograph together and you get a wonderful combination of foreground and background, with just a hint of sea in the middle.
If you would like to own a print for yourself please do drop me a line. I can supply framed or unframed. The following print fit very nicely into IKEA’s simple black frames if you’d like to do it yourself. Prices are £55 for 30cm x 22cm, £75 for 40cm x 30cm, both prices are plus delivery. Other sizes are available, please get in touch to enquire.
It’s sometimes possible when editing photos on a computer to look too much at the histogram and not at the actual image. We can focus on highlights and blacks, and on getting a good spread of tones, which is all rather academic. What you really need to do is concentrate on the final image and how you see it. I loved the soft tones of the RAW image for this shot and decided to try and enhance the gentle tones and light…
En-route to see a client yesterday I took my constitutional 5 minutes to stop at Ainsdale beach. There was total cloud cover and not a lot of light. I noticed a few gulls following the shore line so I went for a longer zoom to capture them flying above the fence line.
Another stop off at Ainsdale Beach on my way home, another sunset.
Driving back from an appointment in Formby the sun was sinking fast as I approached the Pontins roundabout. After a long day I was keen to get home, and the light was weak, not stunning. I decided to give it a chance and headed for the Lido car park. The wind was blowing the sand off the top of the dunes, I had to walk backwards over the crest. The light was poor, there was no time to get the tripod, so I upped the ISO and took a few shots. A lot of the shots were too slow, and blurred, but I managed to grab a couple of nice images. This Ainsdale Beach sunset shot was just as the sun was half way gone. The colours can go a bit strange at this time of the day, but I like the results…
One of the few features among the marram grass on Ainsdale dunes is the fencing. This selective focus shot puts the fence post in the frame.
Sometimes a particular view or style can become an obsession. Perhaps it’s a range of tones, or maybe it’s a minimal point of view, or a particular point of view, or possibly it’s a combination of many things, perhaps not even consciously understood that all come together to produce the one thing that photographers want – a distinctive – something that is recognisably you.
For me the focus on marram, sea and sky has been impressed on me by the nature of the Sefton English coastline. The entire stretch of coast from Liverpool to Preston is straight, flat and featureless. In order to make an interesting shot certain attitudes have developed: a relentless compositional minimalism, removing even more features in order to produce a clean aesthetic; this minimalism extends to reducing the palette to simple blues and greens with a hint of muted yellows in the sand; a low point of view is probably a result of the compositional needs, but in itself produces a distinct viewpoint on the marram and sky of the Southport coast.
The result is simple, clean images with a muted palette of tones. These aren’t dynamic images in the sense that they produce an immediate ‘wow’, but they are the kind of restful, easy on the eye, hang on your wall and enjoy for years to come type of images, timeless in a sense – timeless in the way that the marramscapes of grass, sand, sea and sky will always be.
Driving along the coast road in the beautiful autumn sunshine I got to Ainsdale beach with time for a 15 minute break before moving on to meet a client. I parked up just as the clouds covered the sun. As I wandered and hunted out a good viewpoint the sky darkened, then came the drops, then the camera went back in the bag to keep it dry, and then I went back in the car to keep dry. Of course, as soon as I had to move on to make my appointment the sun came out again!
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 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.