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Behind the lens

Cuckmere Haven

This image by Alex Taylor won the expert vote in our Country Life contest. Here's Alex's account of getting the shot.

"I was out walking in Sussex on a very hot Saturday in late June. I had planned a route from Alfriston, down the Cuckmere Valley to Cuckmere Haven and, time permitting, maybe taking in one or two of the Seven Sisters.

I always take my camera when I walk - that way I can combine two of my passions. As I approached Cuckmere Haven it was early afternoon, around one o'clock. The sun was high in the sky and the light was very intense, really accentuating the colours. I climbed up the side of the first Sister to look down onto the beach and better take in the wider views. The whole scene below me was so quintessentially English - the white cliffs, the beach, the blue green of the sea, the streaked blue of the sky.

There were plenty of people around but from high up on the cliff they were just small figures scattered randomly across the beach. I liked the way the dots and dashes of the people on the beach were accentuated by the blobs of green vegetation on the foreground of the beach. It gave the image a lovely variety of colours and textures. I couldn’t quite believe how perfect the view was - almost impressionistic or maybe pointillist - like a Seurat painting. I sat on the steep grass and happily snapped away.

I was using my normal Nikon D3200 with the standard 18 - 55 mm lens lens plus a polarising filter. ISO 400 at f.10 and 1/320. It was such a simple shot that it almost composed itself. I took about a dozen varied shots - landscape, portrait, various angles and perspectives. They all had merit but this was the best composition and colour palette.

Post processing was minimal - just some very slight adjustments to light and colour. The original shot was so intense and evocative that I didn’t feel the need to enhance it or change it in any way. It captured the moment - a perfect summer afternoon by the sea in Sussex.

I was delighted with the shot and and with my luck for being in the right place at the right time!"


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