I have this hopelessly romantic notion that ‘spirit of place’ is a metaphysical reality; that as humans we can be in a place and somehow communicate with our surroundings, allow ourselves to feel the emotion that’s wrapped up in the ‘spiritual energy’ of any given location.
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The Fourth Dimension


‘Barra’, Traigh Eais, Barra, Outer Hebrides
Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II, 24-70mm f/2.8 L @ 25mm, 0.8 seconds @ f/22, ISO 50
LEE 2-Stop ND + 3-Stop ND + 2-Stop ND Grad filters.
Manfrotto 441 tripod, Manfrotto 322RC2 Heavy Duty Grip Ball Head.
Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop.

“A remote coastline without another soul in sight, the sun was setting off-stage left giving a subtle pink tinge to the layered clouds and providing some direct illumination to the sand dunes.”

The Fourth Dimension

The wonderful thing about fine-art landscape photography as opposed to other styles of landscape photography is it’s over-riding emphasis on personal expression and creativity. The incredibly difficult challenge of successfully transferring the emotional qualities of a scene through to the final viewer of the print provides an obsessively enduring lure.

The camera distils our three-dimensional world into two dimensions and often captures ‘frozen’ moments in time, but this isn’t how we see things. A long exposure, introducing a slight sense of movement is arguably closer to our real world experience. The other subtle aspect of showing movement is that it re-introduces a third dimension to mitigate the loss of spatial depth. Time, the ‘fourth-dimension’, is therefore allowed to emotively shape our images.

I’m never happier than when photographing at the coast in a location like this. Conditions could not have been more perfect. A remote coastline without another soul in sight, the sun was setting off-stage left giving a subtle pink tinge to the layered clouds and providing some direct illumination to the sand dunes. I stood there for a while observing the movement of the waves gently rolling in to the broad flat beach and trying to visualise how I might capture this beautiful moment. I eventually positioned myself so that the waves were moving diagonally, both in to the beach and towards me, creating this painterly brush-stroke effect in the foreground. As they lapped around my feet, I made this exposure at 0.8 sec, just long enough to capture some movement in the water but comfortably fast enough to avoid any unwanted movement in the clouds.

After applying colour temperature compensation to produce a more pleasing cooler looking result, I processed the resultant RAW file twice using Lightroom to create two images. The first image was processed in the usual fashion and the second image was identical but had negative clarity applied by sliding the clarity slider over to the left. Negative clarity gave the second image a dreamy soft-focus effect. I then combined both images in Photoshop using the soft second image to create most of the final result but blending in the beach and dunes from the sharper first image.

This article first appeared in Outdoor Photography Magazine. Reproduced with kind permission.