Golden Hour, Workington, Cumbria
Last week, Deana and myself headed to the shore down in Harrington, Workington on the west coast of Cumbria, for no other reason than to shoot photographs, more to the point, portraits. It was more of an experimental session so the dogs came along for a run and a swim.
I was hoping for some good light after a sunny evening, so we started to shoot just before golden hour. The golden hour is the period of daytime shortly after sunrise or before sunset, during which daylight is redder and softer than when the sun is higher in the sky, when the light tends to be harsh when photographs are shot in direct sunlight. You can also get good results during a period called blue hour, just before sunrise or after sunset, when indirect sunlight is evenly diffused.
I brought along a small set up in terms of equipment for the evening. I aimed to approach the portraits with an environmental feel due to the expectation of some gorgeous warm light from the setting sun over the ocean. It was also looking promising due to the section of clouds adding drama to the sky. I always bring a general portrait lens such as the 50mm or 85mm, but I also needed some versatility, so I packed the ever popular 24-70mm.
Camera body: Nikon D850
Lenses: Nikon 50mm 1.8 & Tamron 24-70 2.8
I am super lucky living in Workington or anywhere along the Cumbrian coast, having the Lake District fells five minutes to the east and the coast right on our doorstep to the west. When the weather plays along we get some incredible sunsets over the Solway Firth looking across the Irish Sea and Scotland.
This was one of the first times I’ve used Deana as a subject to shoot, but with a little hesitation she started to do a super job. I mainly wanted to experiment with the light and how the backdrops and poses alter the character of the image as well as the subject. As the sun was setting to the west it was ideal to mainly shoot images that were back lit, showing the surrounding beach and ocean, with the golden light from over the ocean. The setting sun served typically as a back light which helped to separate Deana from the background.
I didn’t have much of a plan in terms of which shots and poses I wanted to capture, as I wanted more of a relaxed approach, experimenting with focal lengths and poses as the light changes with the setting sun. My approach is to capture natural, authentic images, so I allowed Deana to move quite freely, which helped her relax without having to hold awkward positions.
In these types of situations, when working in natural light, it is important to shoot with the final image in mind, rather than how the photographs look within the camera. What I mean by that is altering your exposure in order to capture the detail in the ‘model’ as well as the environment you are in, which in this case is an interesting deep orange sky over the ocean.
If I was to light and expose for the subjects face the sky would be far too bright, which would be impossible to rectify during the post processing faze. Alternatively, it makes for a better image to under expose the subject in order to maintain the detail in the highlights and then bring up the shadows later.
I see comments from camera enthusiasts or on social media posts about images being straight out of camera, where image editing is seen to be cheating or in some ways less of a skill. This cannot be more wrong in my opinion! The editing of an image is as much of a creative and personal process and style as the initial click of a cameras shutter.
A cameras sensor is not the same as a human eye, where the dynamic range between the brightest highlights and the darkest shadows are impossible to recreate within a camera. The human eye processes the same information in a different way and therefore the initial taking of the image is only half the process in order to get a desired emotion or aesthetic to an image.
I really hope you enjoy some of the images, and if you have any questions or you are interested in a portrait session of your own please get in touch. I promise I won’t bore you with technical camera speak, ha! Portrait sessions are about relaxing and having fun. If you need any further information regarding my approach or my work and prices please check those sections on my website.
Have a great autumn, a perfect time of year for photography with the ever changing colours and conditions.
Hope to hear from you soon