Photographer shares his seascape secrets

Eroded groynes at Sandsend, North Yorkshire. Picture by Tony Worobiec.
Eroded groynes at Sandsend, North Yorkshire. Picture by Tony Worobiec.

Morpeth Camera Club

On Tuesday, November 27, Tony Worobiec, a brilliant photographer and highly accomplished presenter, came to Morpeth Camera Club with his presentation entitled The Water’s Edge.

An author of 16 books, he studied fine art at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and spent 18 years as head of a large design faculty in Dorset.

A Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, his work has been exhibited in London’s Barbican Gallery, Bradford’s National Museum of Photography, the Menier Gallery, London, and the Talbot Museum, Lacock.

Tony is a fine art photographer, with work in the permanent collection of the RPS, The Fox Talbot Museum and in numerous other collections in the UK, Europe, Japan and the United States.

He opened the evening by saying that the Newcastle area is dear to his heart and that he had travelled to many coastlines in this country and overseas, but none can compare with the North East of England.

From Alnwick to Tynemouth, he said the variety of coastline in his view cannot be equalled.

While displaying a wonderful selection of his photographs, he explained how he worked, the time of day or night, and how he chooses to capture photographs.

He concentrates on taking photographs at dawn and dusk, and using the light, he includes simple elements to create minimalist seascapes.

He said that at dawn the light enhances patterns made by sand ripples, which are pristine at this time of the day. He loves the gentle rhythm of the receding tide, which leaves reflected light on sand, and the beach at dusk, where the source of light is blue, producing a mysterious nocturnal hue.

He said a glimmer of light on the horizon reflected in the sea can provide a focal point in an otherwise minimalist pink and grey seascape.

Water is so reflective, he added, that it accentuates the rim light on rocks, adding that each beach echoes the kind of rock indigenous to that area.

We enjoyed examples of this with wonderful colourful gradations of gold, grey and blue strata in rocks, providing arabesque linea effects, and, with the inclusion of shining rock pools, each image is unique.

Minimalism is like Marmite, he continued, but the secret is to get the elements right; a line of groynes, protruding rocks or boat wrecks peeping out the water, or one simple cloud, adds a point of interest.

His preferred placement of the horizon in the middle, and his use of a neutral density filter to erase movement in the water, add serenity to his scenes.

Among his many beautiful images was a lighthouse on stilts emitting a glow of eerie light, stranded at low tide on a massive beach, which created a sense of openness, followed by a lido at high tide, with protruding railings radiating with light in subtle blues.

There were images of piers at sunset in the rain, with wet converging boards and cast iron seats, which reflected the glow from silhouetted Victorian lights.

There were piers lit from below, forming eerie shadows, and fire-wreck, skeletal piers in stark monotone against a pink setting sun.

Tony went on to suggest that taking photographs with one’s back to the light source — beach huts glowing below dark skies and rocks and sheer cliff faces illuminated by the setting sun behind him — were great examples of this technique.

Tony added that not all coastal scenes have to be romantic. Coastal structures like groynes, bridges, wind turbines and commercial ports have their place and add impact.

Impoverished areas, where the sea is dead and where patterns are formed by scum or encrusted salt, can be barren, but have their own beauty.

Throughout the evening we were treated to superb seascapes with a dreamlike, serene quality, interspersed with humorous anecdotes and useful guidelines.

Tony concluded by stating that no matter what the weather, all light has value.

Be sure to experiment, and relax when walking along the beach and you will see more.

The magic of coastal photography is that every day is different. Return often, look for new perspectives and remember that there is always a unique moment to be captured.

The audience comprised not only of Morpeth Camera Club members, but also of guests from other photographic societies within the area.

Seasoned photographers, intermediary or beginners, they could not fail to be impressed by Tony’s stunning images and his seamless and very informative commentary.

Print Competition Secretary Peter Downs thanked Tony for an excellent presentation, before his photographs were displayed around the room for all to enjoy over refreshments.

Morpeth Camera Club meets most Tuesdays between September and May in Morpeth Methodist Church in Howard Terrace. Meetings commence at 7.30pm.

There is a varied programme of speakers, ‘in-house’ evenings and competitions. The aim is to have fun and improve photography skills. Members are interested in all types of photography, and all work is now done in the digital format.

For more information about the club and its programme, visit www.morpethcameraclub.co.uk