Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Beach at Sables d'Or

After I thought I was nearly finished with photography (see my last post below), I was very fortunate to find a new creative inspiration, which helped me capture shots like the one above. This also shows what can happen when your initial plan fails.

First of all I should say though, how great this location is. The last few days of our trip to Brittany was spent in the seaside village of Sables d'Or (or 'Frehel', I wasn't quite sure which name was the correct one), and my word, the beach is spectacular! My wife and I both agreed it was like walking along a tropical beach (though we were in very northern France), and it was a lovely, quiet beach as well.

I knew this particular evening would yield a wonderful sunset, and my plan was to photograph a mini version of Mont Saint Michel that belongs to the area, but I could not nearly figure out how to get there. I gave up driving after about half an hour and then decided to head there the only I knew possible, along the huge stretch of beach. Even at the stage above, I was nowhere near it (I would realise this the next day), so nonetheless decided to anchor my tripod into the sand, and take some pictures of the beautiful colours and patterns that remained that evening.

I try not to be modest, but I think I'm actually beginning to think like a serious photographer now. My main motivation for capturing the picture above, was not just to create another HDR picture, but to really capture the drama I felt at the time. It was just a sense I got from the combination of sky and the wonderful landscape, and I tried to capture this feeling.

The processing in a nutshell

Ok I said I would try to provide more of these so here it goes....

1. 5 bracketed shots loaded into Photomatix and processed to contain a nice arch of dynamic range with a boost to the detail as well (never over doing it in Photomatix)

2. 2 versions eventually produced in Photomatix, first with the standard tone mapped look, the 2nd with a more natural look (this is quite standard for me now).

3. Both finished versions loaded into layers in Photoshop.

4. Curves adjustment applied to the tone mapped version.

5. Masked in more natural elements of the other layer such as the beach (at 60%) to give a sharper foreground.

6. Dodge tool used to bring out more colour into the orange parts of the beach and sea.

7. Dust spots removed with content-aware healing brush.

8. Picture loaded into Nik Color Efex. First tool used - Pro Contrast. Adjusted the colour tone and improved dynamic contrast.

9. Remove Color Cast used to again change the overall tone of the picture.

10. Back in Photoshop, High Pass sharpening used for general sharpness. Blended with Overlay at 70%.

11. Photo loaded into Lightroom. Brushed over the trees along the middle of the picture to bring out the shadows more.

12. Boost of sharpening added with high masking.

13. Tiny saturation of orange colour.


  1. Another wonderful picture. I have visited Sables D'Or, and your picture brings back great memories. Thanks for explaining the series of events in producing such fine photo's. Keep up the good work.

    1. Many thanks for your comment Christopher. As always, it is much appreciated!