Wednesday, 01 August 2018 00:00

Sea Palling and Waxham

Written by  Joe Lenton
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Sea Palling and Waxham

This month we move further north along the Norfolk coast. Here we take a look at Sea Palling and Waxham beach. Sea Palling is probably the better known of the two and certainly has more parking and facilities. Waxham can be reached by walking south along the beach from Sea Palling. There is very limited parking available by Waxham beach itself.

I like to make the most of any unique features at a location. This helps viewers to identify where the image was taken by giving a strong sense of place. It also means that I work differently at different locations, creating varying images by allowing myself to be guided by the environment around me. When we think of Sea Palling, there are a few distinctive elements that come to mind. First of all, there are the tall posts marking the sea defence reefs. These are visible even when the reefs themselves are submerged. They can be used to create leading lines in your composition, with their diminishing height adding to the sense of depth and perspective as you can see below.


Then, the second thing that grabbed my attention was the long, curved concrete shelf at the end of the beach. I must admit that concrete in and of itself is rarely worthy of many photos. However, the unusual shape and location of this structure raise various possibilities. One is to try using the curvature to provide a half frame for a shot. Another might be to use the shelf as a leading line. An interesting idea that struck me was to try and get the reflected light of sunrise bouncing off it to make it add to the warmth of the scene.


It is often easier to get nice reflected light when there is some water on a rocky surface but it can still be possible without it sometimes. With the very dark rocks at these beaches the contrast can be extremely high at sunrise. So, to avoid having pure black rocks or a sky that is too bright you might want to shoot either with filters or multiple exposures to blend together later. Sometimes HDR can work well. For more control and to retain better contrast so it looks more realistic, I'd recommend learning to use luminosity masks in Photoshop for a better blend than HDR software can normally achieve. (You can learn about luminosity masks & other techniques in the members' area on the Original Art Photography website


If you want to add warmth to your sunrise and sunset photos then there are various tricks you can try. One is to switch to a cloudy white balance as this introduces more warmth into the image. Another is to use split toning to introduce some orange and/or magenta. This can be done in Lightroom quite quickly. Or, you could use colour layers or photo filter layers in Photoshop and mask areas in or out as needed. There are many methods from the simple to the more complex and you can work quickly or have a slow approach with lots of careful control if you prefer. The next two images each feature some added colour to enhance the mood.



If you like long exposures then rocky beaches such as Sea Palling and Waxham can be very good locations to use. The rocks make a good, solid contrast with more soft or fluid water. You may need to use Neutral Density (ND) filters to achieve a long enough shutter speed to blur the water. But this depends on the available light levels and how much blur you are after.


If you like portrait photography or fashion photography then beaches can make great locations. The rocks may provide some shade on an overly bright day and they can also be useful for people to sit on or stand against.


It is easier to control the light on an overcast day. Otherwise, try having the sun behind your subject so that they don't squint and then add some flash to light them up a bit so they aren't left as a silhouette.

Next time you find yourself at the beach, try to find out what makes that particular beach different and see if you can showcase that in your images. Use the unusual features to prompt you to try things that you might not normally do.

© Joe Lenton, August 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 Wednesday, 02 January 2019 19:12

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