Image background…

I dabble in many types of image making, but secretly seascape photography has to be my favourite. What I like about it the most is that the surroundings of the coast are forever changing.. Sandbars are washed in and out with the storms and a single location can change dramatically in any given day with the rising and falling of the tide. You could turn up to a spot at sunrise, one you’ve been to 20 times or more before and you get to work the scene creating compositions like it’s your first time there. It’s this constant mindset of creating which I love… the getting your feet wet and jumping out of the way from waves rolling in is just a fun added side bonus.

This particular rocky basin is located south of Coogee Beach and is only accessible via the coastal walk. There is a channel carved out of the stone shaped like a thermometer. The water rushes in and out of the channel with the tide and looks amazing. I rose at 5am and came early to this location, and there was enough light to make my way along the coastal walk and down to the beach without having to use a torch. This site is apparently popular with photographers, but on this particular morning I had it all to myself! The odd person popped along the rocky platforms doing there morning exercise, but I mostly had the ocean to myself. The lights, sounds, smells and shear intensity of the scene was exhilirating…The sun rising over the Pacific Ocean created some incredible light within the outstretching arms of the headlands.  would love to return another day and explore the surrounding coastal area soon.

Shooting Technique:

For the most part this was done using a tripod and shooting 5 frames using the EV settings on my camera in aperture priority mode. When dealing with seascapes I like to either go for ultra long exposures or try to get close to 2 seconds. I’ve found that this really is the magic number when it comes to seascape photography as it is long enough to create some dynamic shapes without extending it into the smooth milky white seas.

So I shot the images in Aperture priority and tried to use an aperture close to f/8 whilst keeping my ISO around 100. A lens is sharpest in the middle apertures, but I don’t really have to worry too much with the Nikkor 14-24mm as it is sharp throughout the apertures. I didn’t whack on any ND filters at this stage because the light was coming up fast and anything I needed in the way of exposure adjustment I knew could be done in post using bracketed images.

Editing Technique:

If you haven’t heard of creating HDR images with Luminace Masks then it’s time to find out! They are a method of controlling various levels of the lights, darks and midtones of your image at the click of a button. Essentially you can select, for example, one portion of the light tones and then make any adjustment to this set of data such as levels, curves and hue/saturation… you can even take this selection into your favourite filter program like OnOne Perfect Effects or Topaz Adjust 5.

I’ve been putting a lot of time into educating myself into new editing techniques through the vast wealth of materials out there.. Many great photographers are willing to depart their knowledge including Tony Kuyper, Jimmy Mcintyre, Jay Patel, Brian Matiash (OnOne), Trey Ratcliff (stuckincustoms), Serge Ramelli and Joel Tjintjelaar.

I think every artist wants to be original but what I’ve found is that if you want to express your vision and ideas you need to have the tools to do so… Software like Photoshop and Lightroom is becoming every increasingly powerful and there is no harm in looking to others to show you these new features. Joel Tjintjelaar is the perfect example of someone who spent years studying images of the great photographers and found that to express himself he had to develop a new editing process. This process he titled iterative selective gradient masking or iSGM for short. He didn’t just one day decide “oh Im going to create a new workflow”, he first learnt luminance masking from educational sources already out there and because they weren’t expansive enough for him to do what he wanted he developed his techniques on top of these. I think the iSGM technique is not only useful in B&W imagery but also in colour images and I have found that i’ve been using the techniques in my colour images of late as well.

If you are looking for a great start to the technique of luminance masking for creating realistic HDR images you can’t go passed these video tutorials

Jimmy Mcintyre’s HDR Luminosity mask Video Tutorials: These tutorials are amazing and will improve your image creating in leaps and bounds. He guides you through every step of the way in slow and controlled methods. There are steps for beginners to advanced, so check them out.


Hope you guys and girls found this post interesting, and enjoyed the extended look into the thoughts and background behind this image.

Thanks, Luke


Sony A7R


Nikkor 14-24mm

Focal Length




Shutter Speed

0.4, 0.8, 2x 1.5 & 3.4 second exposures



HDR info

5 bracketed images using luminance masking


17th of february, 2015


6:10 am


Coogee Beach, Sydney Australia

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of
Contact Us

Please use this contact form for any enquiries and we will get back to you asap. Thanks :-) Thanks, Luke