Landscape photography at sunset along the Jurassic Coast, Dorset

Fossil Coast Drinks Co is pleased to introduce Harry Newton as a guest blogger, a leading Devon based landscape & nature photographer and ambassador to the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Read how he approached the photography of Durdle Door.

Durdle Door by Harry Newton guest blogger to Fossil Coast Drinks Co
Durdle Door by Harry Newton - Landscape Photographer

The Jurassic Coast is a stretch of coastline which makes up a World Heritage Site running from Exmouth in Devon to Studland Bay in Dorset. Incorporating a range of rock formations from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, the cliffs are formed by a range of rocks from sandstone in the west in Devon to limestone and chalk at locations in Dorset.


On this particular photography trip I hiked the south west coast path from Ringstead Bay to Durdle Door for sunset and captured images along the way along both the coastline as well as the fields inland. Whilst hiking I paid particular attention to the way in which the sun was interacting with the rock formations of the cliffs as well as the rolling fields in order to look for smaller, more intimate images to capture since the sun was still high in the sky at this point.

Durdle Door by Harry Newton Photography and guest blogger to Fossil Coast Drinks Co
Durdle Door by Harry Newton

Moreover, since the sun sets so far to the west in mid-June, at sunset the cliffs and hills inland would have already thrown shadows over the coastline. Consequently, at this time of year, locations such as Durdle Door are at their best just after dawn or during the blue hour when dusk has already fallen.


With this in mind, I hiked past Bat’s Head and on towards Durdle Door to ensure that I arrived at least an hour and a half prior to the sun setting.


Due to the fact that I had not been to this part of the coast for a while I spent a short time scouting the location with the aim of finding some foreground elements to be incorporated into the compositions.


Since the natural curve of the beach leading towards Durdle Door lends itself to wider angle compositions, I initially focused on images which included the wildflowers and seed heads along the cliff’s edge as a foreground.


Once the sun had fallen behind the hills behind me, and the scene was fully in shadow, I moved on to photographing the rock formations with a long lens to pick out specific details or pockets of light in the distance. I also turned my attention back towards the west since the prominent rock formations of Bat’s Head was backlit by the setting sun. Using a longer focal length I framed Bat’s Head using the nearer cliff with the backlighting emphasising the forms in the rocks. Below I have added an explanation of how this particular image was edited in order to demonstrate the different processes involved.


The editing for this image was carried out using Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop.



This is the raw image which was the starting point.


First, I straightened the horizon since the image was photographed hand-held and I added an initial crop. Next, I used the basic adjustments to provide a baseline for further editing. The main aspects of this part of the edit were adding contrast to the image alongside warming up the white balance. Also, I slightly desaturated the whole of the image.


Secondly, I added a slight s-curve on the tone curve panel to further adjust the contrast.


Next, I used the HSL panel to continue with the edit. Since the colour palette in this image is restricted to mainly orange, yellow and green I solely focussed on those colours. In the hue section I moved the oranges and greens towards the yellow to give the image greater cohesiveness and to reflect the warmth of the glowing light that I remembered from the scene at the time. Saturation adjustments were limited to slightly reducing the saturation of the yellow to make the colours softer and increasing the green to retain the colour of the grass. In terms of the luminance section the green was reduced the provide more contrast with the cliffs and the yellow slightly increased.

Image by Harry Newton - landscape photographer and guest blogger to Fossil Coast Drinks Co
Image by Harry Newton

That completes the global adjustments so I then moved on to local adjustments using a mask.


The mask was used to soften the light coming from the right-hand side of the image as well as bringing out more of the colour across the top of the image. Using a radial mask set to almost maximum feather I applied an adjustment to the top of the image which increased the warm of the white balance and exposure as well reducing the dehaze.


Finally, the image was taken over to Photoshop to remove the distractions on the beach to provide a cleaner final image.


Once the sun had set, I began to hike back along the coast path towards where I had parked the car. I changed my route for the return to include the footpaths through the fields in order to for me to photograph them during blue hour.

Image by Harry Newton - Landscape Photographer and guest blogger to Fossil Coast Drinks Co
Image by Harry Newton

I scouted the fields for leading line and decided upon the telegraph poles and tractor lines as the main elements of the compositions.


You can visit Harry Newtons website at www.harrynewtonphotography.co.uk.


Alternatively follow on Instagram: @harry_newtonphoto and Twitter: @hnewtonphoto


Fossil Coast Drinks Co is delighted to announce that its expressions of gin, gin liqueur, and rum spirit are now available to buy at the Lulworth Estate Heritage Centre.

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