Saturday, 23 June 2018 00:00

Caister Beach

Written by  Joe Lenton
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Caister Beach

Norfolk is fortunate to have a long stretch of varied coastline. This month we step out of Norwich and head to the coast to begin exploring a series of locations with their own unique character. We begin in Caister. For those of you unfamiliar with it, Caister-On-Sea is just north of Great Yarmouth. A good sized car park can be found on Beach Road (postcode NR30 5HD) by the Lifeboat centre. 

You can often find interesting things to photograph before you even get onto the beach at Caister. For many years there has been old machinery stored at the end of the car park as well as the Lifeboat building. It is worth having a look at them before going further.

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There is a relatively slim stretch of dunes before you reach the beach. Look out for low angle shots where you might be able to make the most of the grasses - as a silhouette for example.

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Try to find paths in the dunes too as they can make useful leading lines if you want more depth for your images.

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One of the big distinctive factors for Norfolk beaches are the various forms of sea defences that have been put up over the years. Each area seems to have taken a slightly different approach, giving you key features to differentiate one beach from another. Of course there are many other differences too such as  some beaches are more sandy and others have a lot of pebbles. Caister feels quieter than Yarmouth as it doesn't have buildings right up to the beach in the same way as Yarmouth. Unlike Overstrand, for example, it rarely has large waves. But as with all beach locations it is important to check the tides when planning a trip as otherwise you might be disappointed to find the sea defences hidden or the water too far out. For this I often use the Tides for Fishing site  although I'm not a fisherman!

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The Caister sea defences are a series of metal posts arranged in zigzag lines. Zigzags are good for composition, leading the eye not only through an image but also across it, depending on how you arrange them in the frame. If the water is splashing against the posts you might like to try a faster shutter speed (1/500th or faster) to freeze the motion of the splashes for dramatic effect.

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I would certainly recommend experimenting with low level shots as well as higher ones so that you can play with perspective. It might even be worth making a more abstract close up composition using the posts if inspiration strikes you.

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Slightly slower shutter speeds can be used to smooth off the water a little (as above) or in more extreme ways using very long exposures. If it is very bright then you will need a full ND filter to cut out some of the light to enable you to use a long shutter speed.

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Look out for old remains on the beach such as the old pillbox sinking into the sand. This certainly makes an interesting focal point for images and can contrast nicely as a static object with smooth water around it implying movement.

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Keep an eye out too for machinery on the beach. Sometimes manned, sometimes left alone, the tractors and other kit can provide useful subjects for shots along the beach. You can also use them to hide elements that you don't want visible. One example of this is the wind turbines out to sea. Some people don't mind them in images but others hate them! Decide for yourself how you feel about it. If you have good Photoshop skills then you can often easily remove them afterwards if you wish.

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I leave you with one of my favourite images taken on Caister beach not long after sunrise. The image below won a Gold award in an international photography competition. You can see how I've used a long exposure in contrast to the posts. The photo makes use of the zigzag lines to lead you to the large wooden post. Processing involved adding a split tone to produce more of an artistic interpretation. I hope Caister will inspire you to create your own works of art!

© Joe Lenton, June 2018

Joe Lenton is a professional photography tutor and commercial photographer. He has won many international awards for his images and been featured in exhibitions around the world. He runs photography workshops and teaches various aspects of photography and images processing one to one . For more free photography tips and to enquire about photography training please visit Original Art Photography.

Last modified on Saturday, 23 June 2018 16:39

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