Further travels with a compact camera.

Recently I spent a few days down on the UK’s delightful Dorset coast.  We were travelling light on our walks so I only took one small camera.  It was my Panasonic Lumix TZ-70 travel zoom compact.  (The TZ-70 is known as the ZS-50 in the USA.)  It’s a very practical little thing with a zoom range from 24mm to 720mm equivalent.  The small sensor means the the image quality isn’t ever going to be stellar, but it’s really useful having such a focal length range in such a small camera.

On the Dorset coast there’s a place called Winspit which has an old stone quarry system.  It’s a fascinating place to (very carefully) look round, and it has photographic potential too.  There’s not that much light once you are inside, so I popped the camera on to a rock shelf, set it to 24mm, and used a 0.6 second shutter speed.  A black and white conversion from the RAW file in Lightroom and an HDR lift in Nik HDR Efex Pro gave the moody look I wanted.

One of the highlights of the coast in that area is the natural rock arch of Durdle Door, but to get the best image the light needs to be right.  The light on Durdle Door itself was a bit flat, so the beach was my next subject.  The waves have caused some lovely S-shaped curves on the beach and they are great composition aids.  I used the 720mm end of the zoom range to get the framing right, and I was very careful to have the curve starting in one corner and ending in another.  The two people give a sense of scale.

One evening we popped in to the town of Swanage to have a meal.  The sun was setting as we wandered around the town and the sky went an interesting colour. Sunsets are classic subjects for photography but it’s worth thinking about how the sunset is affecting things other than the sky.  The water in the harbour was tinged with red.  Once again I used the 720mm end of the zoom range to capture just a small part of the light on the water.  It looks like it’s on fire.

I’ll be talking about how to look for this type of image on the photography holiday I’m leading in Shropshire in July for HF Holidays.  There’s no coast there but the principles are the same, and it doesn’t matter what sort of camera you use.

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