Slow Shutter Speed at Hartland Quay, North Devon

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: May 6, 2021

Category: Photography | Kit

It’s been a few months now since I started out on my (long overdue) Landscape Photography Project with a view to trying something new whilst we’re living with restrictions because of the pandemic, and also just, well, wanting to see how I could improve.

I’ve mentioned in some of my more recent videos about how much I’m enjoying it and that when restrictions do eventually get lifted, I will 100% be continuing.. It’s totally different to my usual portrait photography but also similar in so many ways, but I love the escapism it brings and how it’s making me see more of the outdoors and immerse myself in my surroundings.

A few days ago I headed back to Hartland Quay in North Devon; not too far from where I live, but this was the place I first visited when starting the project and felt completely overwhelmed and didn’t know where to point my camera.

The weather conditions, the tide time, the sunset…everything looked to be just right for me to head back and hopefully, after a few months of success and failures, improve on my first attempt.

Anyway, the tide was coming in quicker than I expected so in the interests of safety and having my sensible head on, I wasn’t able to position myself exactly where I had planned, but I did find a spot and yeah, I’m quite happy with what I got…

Kit

To capture this image I used a wide angle lens and slow shutter speed…

Camera: Sony A7RIV

Lens: Sony 16-35mm f/4.0 ZA

To achieve a slow shutter speed and so create that misty, cloudy look to the sea as it washed over the rocks, I used a couple of filters…

  • H&Y 6-Stop Circular Neutral Density Filter and Polariser
  • H&Y 3-Stop (0.9) Soft Graduated Neutral Density Filter

In the video I shared in the previous post I mention about using filters and how when I first tried landscape photography I found them cumbersome and fiddly. I honestly didn’t think I’d bother with them now that I was back at the landscape stuff a couple of years later, but that’s not the case.

The H&Y ones I now have are so much easier to use. Being magnetic (and it’s a bloomin strong magnet) they’re quick and easy to attach and position which ultimately makes me want to use them as opposed to leave them back at home as I did with the other ones I have.

Settings

With the filters attached I could then dial in the following settings that ultimately gave me detail in the sky, detail in the rocks and the cloudy, misty sea…

ISO 100, 16mm, F/11 with a 20 second exposure

When I first arrived I used my drone (DJI Mavic Mini 2) to fly out over the rocks to see if I could locate a great place to set up and so avoid any unneccessary clambering. This worked great as I found a perfect spot, however when I got there the sea did seem to be moving in a little too quick for comfort so I headed straight back out without the kit seeing the light of day.

So, a big lesson learned here is that Hartland Quay is a retreating tide location and not an incoming tide as it was. I did have over 2 hours before the tide was due to be fully in, but even so it didn’t feel comfortable being there. 

I’ll head back in the next few days when it looks as though the retreating tide coincides with the sunset.

This should mean I will be able to head safely back to that spot.

Can’t wait!

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