Howard Brown: Simple Seascapes. September 26th 2018

There was a warm welcome for Howard Brown at the society’s meeting tonight.  Howard is an amateur photographer, a member of Chorley Camera Club and an expert in seascape photography.  Indeed his photograph of Mangersta Sea Stacks from the Isle of Lewis was short-listed for the Scottish Landscape Image of the Year 2016.



Although Howard’s talk was called ‘Simple Seascapes’ it soon became apparent that his work, the preparation for it and often the degree of physical difficulty actually reaching some of the remote locations, meant that his seascapes could hardly be described as simple.  The first part of Howard’s presentation centred upon the technical and practical considerations of being a seascape photographer.  For all photography the essential ingredient is good light but this is even more critical when taking the striking landscape photographs which are almost always taken during the hour or so either side of sunrise or sunset.  The added complications with seascapes are the tide and the continually changing point at which the sun will be at the horizon throughout the seasons.  There are several phone apps which help with some of these problems and Howard explained which he used.  Howard is meticulous in his planning and will often sketch out the scene beforehand to get the best composition.  He is an advocate of the British Army adage of the 7Ps – Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents P*** Poor Performance.  I’ll leave the reader to consider the fifth P!!


Most of Howard’s seascapes are taken around the British Isles, but the highest concentration of lighthouses, which are in the main very photogenic, are apparently around the Brittany coast so this area is a great attraction to him, too.

The second half of Howard’s presentation entailed a detailed explanation of his approach to a number of his images.  Through his photographs of seascapes taken all around the British Isles he explained his journey from a novice photographer only seven years ago to the expert he has become in such a short period of time.  He has moved from the use of heavy vignettes and the use of HDR (High Dynamic Range) software to give punch to his images post production, to his current approach of light touch adjustments in Adobe Lightroom.  In order to achieve the right image in camera Howard uses an array of filters and light metering equipment and constantly monitors the changing light in his long exposure shots.  His images varied from very dramatic punchy colour images, through monochrome to much more subtle almost pastel colours. He demonstrated his significant progress in getting the light and composition right in camera thereby minimising the amount of computer manipulation to produce his quite outstanding images.


All in all this was a very informative presentation which was much more than a simple display of a presenter’s images but was a detailed analysis all that is required both technically and practically to get outstanding photographs

David Woodthorpe (Vice-chairman)