Skagsanden in Lofoten is one of the most beautiful beaches in Norway. With the majestic mountain landscape and splendid seascape, Skagsanden is extremely photogenic and provide endless creative opportunities. This is truly a paradise for landscape photographer.
This 240 seconds long exposure image was taken using NiSi 10-stops ND filter and NiSi 2-stops soft-edge graduated ND filter. Long exposure is a great approach for seascape photography. Water as the major element in this seascape, however, was distracted by the noisy detail of ripples and waves. Long exposure smoothen the water, as well as enhanced the reflection. Further, long exposure creates the cloud streaks due to its movement. The balance between static (mountain) and dynamic (cloud), warm (cloud) and cool color (cloud and water) create a great sense of contrast.
Rule of third is the commonly use composition in seascape photography, with the horizon sits at the imaginary line dividing the lower third or upper third of the frame. For this image, I use the symmetrical composition instead. The symmetrical lines formed by the cloud streaks and its reflection create harmony atmosphere and the sense of aesthetically pleasing balance and proportion.
Lines help to draw the viewer’s eye through the image. The imaginary lines form by cloud streaks and its reflection have dual roles in this image. They can be seen as diverging lines (left) radiating away from the mountain. These diverging lines are eye-catching compositional elements that create the depth by implicating perspective and add the sense of motion and dynamic. Conversely, these lines, together with the seaweed in the foreground, can be seen as the converging lines lead toward the focal point of this image, the mountain. These lines create strong connection and interaction between the background and the focal point. They draw the viewer eye away from focal point, and then irresistibly back into it again.
The base shutter speed (without ND filter) for this image is 1/20 seconds. With the 10-stops ND filter, the shutter speed supposed to be 1024 times longer, that is 51 seconds. Keep in mind that the light is changing rapidly as the sun is setting, especially over duration of long exposure. Therefore, a longer exposure is required. I experimented with 1 to 5 minutes exposure using the 10-stops ND filters in combination with different aperture and ISO setting. The 4 minutes exposure with ISO-320 and f/13 show desired result. A shorter exposure using larger aperture and higher ISO does not result in dramatic cloud streaks. A longer exposure with lower ISO and smaller aperture does not further exaggerate the cloud streaks. Due to the low contrast between the sky and sea during the sunset, a 2-stops graduated ND filter is sufficient in this case.
When photographing at the beach, it is important to make sure your tripod is stable. The tripod tends to sink into the sand as waves moving in and out. You may insert the lower section of tripod legs deep into the sand for better stability. After each shot, zoom in and check the image to make sure it is not blurry. You may also wrap the tripod legs with plastic bag, this can avoid the sand goes into the leg intersection, which can affect functionality and require thorough cleaning.