Being ready to ‘suffer for our art’ may be a bit of a cliché but this evening’s speaker, Rachael Talibart, made me feel decidedly sheepish when she described what she put herself through to capture the shots she wanted. How many of us would spend all day lying on a beach in a raging storm waiting for that special wave or that special moment?

Rachael was brought up on the South Coast of England. Her father was a keen yachtsman and many sea trips and visits to the coast gave her a love for this environment and its infinite moods, colours and shapes. But for one problem – chronic seasickness. She started on a career in the city, but the pull of the marine and a growing interest in photography led her to abandon this and devote all her attention to what she loved most. She now concentrates exclusively on coastal photography and has published two books (‘Sirens’ and ‘The Coast’), had many exhibitions of her work, and feature articles written about her. She won the Classical View section of Landscape Photographer of the Year 2017, and Black & White Photographer of the Year 2018. She also runs photography courses under the name f11 Workshops.

It is impossible to do justice in words to the many breathtaking images we were treated to, so I’m not going to try. If you were unlucky enough to have missed the meeting you can get an idea of what I mean by exploring Rachael’s website:

As well as giving detailed commentary on each picture she showed – how and why she took it and what excited her about the scene – there were many tips and tricks, and comments about the way she works. Here are just a few:

She is prepared to wait all day at a particular spot for that magic moment.

Try returning again and again to the same location to savour all its moods as you are much more likely to get a feel for the photographic possibilities than from one-off visits to unfamiliar places.

If you visit a tourist spot, get the stock shots taken quickly and out of your system before looking for your own take on the location. Try to avoid the cliché pictures that everyone goes away with.

If considering a photo for conversion to black and white, it helps to have strong colour depth. This gives more flexibility for adjusting tonal balance using the colour sliders. Get used to adjusting contrast using Curves as they give the best control over tonal balance in the image.

Once you have finished your adjustments, view your image as a ‘thumbnail’ as this obscures all the fine detail and allows an overall impression of how the composition will look, whether the vignetting works etc.

Because of the dynamic range of most modern sensors allowing readjustments to be made after taking, graduated filters are not necessary in most situations. However, a good reason for using them is to give a better idea through the viewfinder of what the scene will look like in the final version. Use a hard grad for seascapes with a visible horizon and a soft grad for woodland scenes.

Tips for using ICM (intentional camera movement). Use shutter-priority exposures set at 1 to 2 seconds. Start moving the camera before releasing the shutter. Move horizontally for a seascape and vertically for woodland. To get a painterly look, hand hold – don’t use a tripod. Don’t move the camera too far if you wish to retain some image details.

Rachael uses Lightroom and Photoshop for image editing. She doesn’t use SilverEfex Pro saying that all the adjustments in this add-in can be produced in the other packages.

She uses two Canon 5D bodies (one the 50 Megapixel model).

Her lenses were Canon L series: 16-28 f2.8, 24-70 f4, 70-200 f2.8 and a 2x converter. She also uses a tripod and cable release and Lee filters – a 6.6 hard grad, 9 soft grad, polariser and 6 and 10 stopper filters.

But it’s not all about equipment, is it!?

She thought that camera clubs were great for people. They encourage you to do more photography in a friendly social environment and learn from comments by impartial judges. However, she encouraged us to look outside the confines of the club for inspiration. Go to as many exhibitions of photographs that you can. Look at what the masters do and consider how they might have achieved international reputations with photos that would simply dive if put in front of many camera club judges. And go to art galleries. Looking at paintings too can get your brains rattling with ideas.

She concluded by drawing our attention to a number of other contemporary photographers’ work and has kindly provided the following links to help you find them:


Maggi Hambling

Isabel Diez

Susan Burnstine

Jonathan Chritchley

The Togcast

This was a brilliant evening and one we will not forget. Thanks a million Rachael!

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