Wild Seascapes with Mark Dobson
Our world is often referred to as the blue planet. Water is everywhere, from the oceans that surround us, to the rivers that wind through the landscapes. You can often find icebergs forming dramatic shapes, and rain creating new life.
Simply put, without water, life would not exist.
My memories are filled with experiences of the coast. Whether it was summers as a child or in adulthood living on an island, I have always felt a strong connection to the sea, and this now drives my photography.
When photographing the sea, I approach each photo shoot with an entirely fresh mindset according to the conditions. Cool winter months provide the perfect backdrop for dramatic, moody images, while the summer seasons offer much more tranquil scenes to work with. Whether warmer or colder climes, the natural shapes and textures formed by the ebbs and flows of water make for very interesting subjects.
For me, when capturing water, nothing makes for a more interesting photograph than a storm. While the wild conditions bring with them a host of challenges for photographers, the end shot is entirely worth it. It may be cold. Battling against gale-force winds can be daunting. And sometimes I think about the comfort of my home. But I have always powered through in search of the perfect shot.
Photographing water, especially waves, has become a passion of mine. In some cases, I’ve found myself driving past my planned shoot destination of a woodland landscape in favour of the coast. There is something almost hypnotic about watching the waves break against the shore. This is especially true in the winter when the coasts are sparsely populated and quiet – a complete juxtaposition against the harshness of winter storms.
When photographing in these conditions, I must keep up to date with charts and forecasts. I follow the storms as they begin and develop, which helps me pinpoint the best locations. I look at the conditions and think about where the dark clouds will form, and where the sunlight will break through. All of these factors can dramatically change the appearance of water and the resulting photograph.
Sunnier days are perfect for capturing colours or shimmering patterns against the sea. Darker, more ominous skies give the sea a more sinister appearance – which is my favourite to shoot. Photography is a powerful tool in allowing you to get lost in the wonders of Mother Nature. Of course, regardless of whether you want to capture moodier or brighter tones, colour management plays a big part. For me, Datacolor’s products are second to none in the industry when achieving the correct colour balance. Without proper colour management, you won’t be able to fully capture the essence of the photograph, and what’s going on within it.
But colour isn’t the only thing you can experiment with in water photography. The creative possibilities are endless. By slowing the shutter speed down, you can blur the movement of the sea. By speeding it up, you can freeze motions at the moment. Sometimes, you need to look a little harder or adapt to the conditions. In the cases where the weather is not what I expected, I’ll shoot water textures on the ocean surface, or I’ll find smaller details using a telephoto lens. Whatever the weather is doing, there’s always a way to get creative.
Within photography, water is a hidden gem. Through it, we can discover unlimited possibilities and allow ourselves to get completely creative by looking at the world through an entirely different lens.
Written by Mark Dobson