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Huge sea swells heading for the west coast of England

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Category: Industry News

Big wave fun for photographers - If you're a fan of big waves you need to get yourself to the west coast of England this weekend as some big swells are forecast.

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Longships Lighthouse at Lands End gets a battering last Sunday. The explosion is the height of the lighthouse, 115ft high.
Longships Lighthouse at Lands End gets a battering last Sunday. The explosion is the height of the lighthouse, 115ft high.
Another weekend of strong winds and huge sea swells is predicted for the west coast of England. After last Sundays 'warm up' there is another chance to try get to the coast for some drama as the weather is set to peak on Sunday evening.
Although strong wind is always an accompanying force along with big waves, it is the increasing swell heights building in the mid Atlantic that are the most important to the photographer. Waves are predicted to be in excess of 30-40ft, but it’s the rogue waves that should be looked out for. Every twelfth or thirteenth wave seems to pack that extra ingredient, so with the right composition some truly spectacular images can be captured.
Last year’s unbelievable display of raw power at Lands End. The tower is 150ft above sea level.
Last year's unbelievable display of raw power at Lands End. The tower is 150ft above sea level.

David's top ten tips –
  • Take a range of focal lengths but ensure you have a telephoto (up to 300mm) or super telephoto (500mm+) so cliff side explosions can be picked out or long range shots can be captured.
  • Take the sturdiest tripod you can as this is crucial to the image sharpness. For maximum rigidity do not extend the legs, use a bean bag or sit the camera on your camera bag.
  • Use Live View (if your camera has this facility) to manually focus with precision on subject as bad visibility will play havoc with the cameras auto focus.
  • If shooting from a windy exposed location stay lower to the ground.
  • Shoot at ISO400 to give the highest shutter speed you can without compromising image quality.
  • Kitchen roll – take an entire roll with you. You will be wiping sea spray off the lens every few minutes if you are shooting from the cliffs.
  • Use a lens hood. This can only help protect the lens from sea spray even further.
  • Once home, wipe all your kit with a damp flannel to get rid of all traces of salt. Take off your tripod plates and wipe too, as you will find your beloved DSLR will be rusting quicker than would believe.
  • When processing the images, don’t go cranking the contrast sliders to build up clarity in RAW, do this in stages. Respect the scene and think about how it looked at the time. Frequently check the image at 100% to ensure you haven't overdone the processing as too much contrast will induce noise and artefacts.
  • Remember to swear lots, punch the air with glee, coat-surf (using your coat like a kite and lean into the wind) and take loads of silly point and shoot videos.
Visit David Clapp's website to see more images.

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