In the third part of our "Landscape Insights" series, pro photographer Michael Snedic explains how he captured this seascape at Anson Bay, Norfolk Island.
I've visited Norfolk Island each year in November for the last six years. Of course I take my camera with me every time. November is a good time to visit, with low humidity and pleasant temperatures. This fourteen by five kilometre island is half way between Australia and New Zealand and regular flights leave each day from Sydney and Brisbane.
Of all the landscape photography locations on the island, Anson Bay is a favourite. With stunning large boulders, peach-coloured sand and crystal blue water, this really is a 'must-visit' location for photographers. As a lover of foreground detail of some sort in my landscape images, I think the boulders at Anson Bay really do make this shot.
Having taken plenty of images around sunset at Anson Bay over the years, I knew what to expect on this particular visit. I was delighted to hear from one of the locals, who had been there only days earlier, that the boulders were covered in bright green algae. I went back to my accommodation on the island, connected to the net, and worked out when low tide occurred. It was then a matter of planning my visit over the following week to coincide with a low tide around sunset. The ‘planets aligned’ and I was ready on the allocated day.
I arrived well before sunset, which gave me plenty of time to scope out a suitable location. I recommend holding your camera up to your eye and trying lots of different compositions from various angles, and zooming in and out (if you’re using a wide-angle zoom lens). Also try both portrait (vertical) and landscape (horizontal) formats. When you find a composition you like, take a few shots to see how they look. If you’re satisfied, settle in one spot. As the sun sets the light will not only become more subtle, but the camera’s shutter speeds will have to be slower. Slower shutter speeds (hence longer exposures) will in turn create that lovely ‘milky’ effect in waves which is so popular with photographers, as was the case here. Fast movement (as with the wave action in this scene) is recorded as a blur over a long exposure.
I set up my tripod quite low to the ground so I was virtually at eye-level with the boulders. I also used a cable release so I could press the shutter at the precise moment the waves flowed in amongst the rocks. I took a number of shots and it was this image which worked out exactly as I’d planned. To get such a long exposure, I had to wait until quite a bit after sunset. It was important to get perfect focus on the rocks while it was still light, then I made sure the camera was set to manual focus. If you use autofocus, your camera can often 'hunt' back and forth and you’ll find it nearly impossible to focus.