Inspiring photography workshops, courses & tours

Big Tide Photography Tour : JERSEY & OFFSHORE TOWERS

In June we ran one of our Big Tide Photography Tours here on our beautiful island of Jersey. Timed to coincide with Spring tides, our tides are nothing short of spectacular. High tide can lap up against the harbour wall with boat decks higher than the road and, by contrast, six hours later we are hardly able to see the shoreline and suddenly have a whole new (previously underwater) landscape to play with. As well as our varied landscape, we have some outstanding seascapes on our four shores. Throw in a monstrous tide and we have so many shooting possibilities that the only problem we encounter is that there is simply too much to shoot.

We have two rather unusual reefs off the coast of Jersey. South of us is Les Minquiers (9 miles offshore) and east of us is Les Écréhous (6 miles offshore). Both these reefs have small nests of holiday homes and weekend retreats built on them. They are quite a spectacle and, at high tide, they look like isolated rocks in the ocean. At low tide they sit in a huge lagoon surrounded by sand bars and rocks. We took our group out on a private RIB charter to Les Écréhous for a sunset shoot and we had three hours to explore and shoot this amazing place. Our guests had a look of amazement upon arriving at this place - it never fails to impress.

The weather was kind to us, as it often is in Jersey, although it did cloud over on one afternoon and the light became quite flat. As always, we still had plenty to do in this situation so it was back to base for an image processing session and to review the shots taken so far. We’re never stuck for things to do as this is also a perfect opportunity to shoot monochrome. Our guests stayed at the beautiful Harbour View in St Aubin’s village. Right on the harbour front, there was plenty to shoot in their spare time around our beautiful little harbour and beaches. The village is full of restaurants and bars so they didn't have to go far in the evenings.

Our guests also wanted to learn to light paint. That is to say, not dancing around in front of the camera with a torch, but illuminating subjects in the dark from behind the tripod. Painting light into the shadows is something that I do regularly. Learning this technique means that you can light up foreground features during long exposures without the need of expensive strobes or Speedlites. Although a good torch (flashlight) or two is needed and we have a selection of them to learn with. This is great fun to teach - seeing their reaction to suddenly being able to create well-lit images in the dark is very rewarding! Along the way we visited many beautiful beaches and harbours on the north of the island. Each one more picturesque than the one before. One morning we took a boat out to St Aubins Fort, just offshore from the village. Built from beautiful Jersey pink granite in the 1500s, you can freely wonder around it and shoot in all directions. The morning light was incredible and illuminated the village beautifully. Using a variety of neutral density filters, we shot long exposures of the coast with some interesting foreground features.

One of our guys was using two different Sony cameras. The A7R and the quite magical A7s. The A7s only came out to play in dark scenarios and, I have to say, I have never ever seen a camera shoot at such high ISO’s with so little noise. But the A7R is a real stunner. As you may or may not know Sony make the sensors for Nikon’s DSLRs. So it’s no wonder people rave about the Nikons, it’s Sony magic! I’ve also never seen an electronic viewfinder this good either. Bear in mind this camera is a few years old now, and the Sony A7R Mk2 is about to hit the streets! The camera industry, like others, is a digital arms race, so we’ll be very excited to see Canon’s offerings in the coming months. 
(Geek bit - We shot the Sony A7s in a very dark WW2 German bunker, handheld, with a Zeiss 16-35mm lens, wide open at f4 at ISO 400,000!!!!!!! No you wouldn’t want to print from it, but it was still pretty good, drop the ISO a little and the images are very usable. This is what 12 million very large pixels can do given the Sony treatment -extremely impressive!)

All in all, our guys had a very varied workshop taking in some impressive seascapes together with some offshore photography opportunities. They finished the tour with some incredible images and I wonder how long it will take them to get their RAWs into Lightroom and Photoshop and Lightroom? We look forward to seeing some of the edits they come up with. Right, thanks for reading. We will keep you up to date with our latest images and workshop news. We have two workshops coming up and can’t wait to get them going.

If you'd like to book on our next Big Tide Photography Tour in Jersey, here's a link