On Location | Photographing Brighton Beach

I have been a frequent visitor to Brighton for years. Although I don’t live too close by, I have lived within an hour’s drive of this “city by the sea” for all of my life. Brighton has a cool, positive vibe to it, especially during the summer months when the city is buzzing with locals and tourists enjoying themselves at the seaside. I have a lot of fond memories of the many times I have visited Brighton. I had my stag do in here, it was the first place I drove too after passing my driving test and I now regularly visit with my family to paddle in the sea and eat fish and chips on the beach creating new memories for us all to look back on.

All that being said, for some reason, I rarely visit with the purpose to just take photos. I suspect, living closer to London, the draw to head north from where I live has always been stronger (you only have to look at my London image galleries to see this) but this year I am determined to head south more often.

I’ve already visited Brighton half a dozen times this year and two of these were specifically to take photos. The first was an early morning in April. I went with the intension of capturing an epic sunrise shot of the West Pier. A classic subject, which I have my own vision as to how I want to capture which depends a lot on the elements all coming together and on this particular morning, I knew as soon as I arrived that this day was not the day I would get that shot.

I have captured a couple of images of the West Pier which you can find here in my UK Gallery.

So, with the intended image no longer an option, I decided to put the tripod away and just wander along the seafront searching out a few compositions as I went.

Armed with my Fuji XT2, I walked between the two piers, using the warm early morning sunlight to help create different compositions of beachfront. Below are 9 of the photos I took on this particular morning, all with the Fujifilm XT2 and XF18-55mm lens except the close up shot of the West Pier which was taken with the XF55-200mm. Select each photo to see the camera settings I used.

Fast forward to July and with a few hours to spare, I drove back south to Brighton to grab a few more photos down at the seafront, but this time during the sunset hours.

Ever since it was erected in 2016, I hadn’t yet captured any photos of Brighton’s most recent addition to its coastal skyline, the British Airways I360. It’s a unique structure, contrasting against the traditional, ornate Brighton architecture and I for one, really like it. It looks kind of retro-futuristic and what I mean by that is it looks to me like something people in the 1950s would have predicted we would have built today along with the flying cars and gravity suites that is.

For this outing, I once again had my Fujifilm XT2 with my 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses. I knew that to capture the I360 the way I wanted I would need the extra reach of the 200mm and helped by the optical image stabilisation, I was able to handhold the first shot below and keep it nice and sharp while zoomed right in.

 
I360 In The Clouds | Fujifilm X-T2 | XF55-200mm | 200mm | 1/1,700th second | f/4.8 | ISO200

I360 In The Clouds | Fujifilm X-T2 | XF55-200mm | 200mm | 1/1,700th second | f/4.8 | ISO200

 

I have always admired Brighton’s beachfront bandstand. Originally opened in 1884 and restored to its former glory in 2009, I love the ornate Victorian architecture. I have tried to capture this central composition for some time now but every other time I visited, it was either closed or conditions were not good enough to show it off properly. With the sun low and casting a beautiful warm glow across the structure, I grabbed the wide angle XF10-24mm lens and captured the photo below. What was important here was to ensure I had the camera absolutely central and level to make sure the final shot looked symmetrical.

The Bandstand | Fujifilm X-T2 | XF10-24mm | 10mm | 1/110th second | f/11 | ISO200

The Bandstand | Fujifilm X-T2 | XF10-24mm | 10mm | 1/110th second | f/11 | ISO200

I used the 55-200mm lens to get up close to the I360 in the photo below as I wanted to capture those fantastic reflections in the underside of the pod.

 
Reflections | Fujifilm X-T2 | XF55-200mm | 200mm | 1/340th second | f/6.4 | ISO200

Reflections | Fujifilm X-T2 | XF55-200mm | 200mm | 1/340th second | f/6.4 | ISO200

 

I mentioned earlier in this blog that I have a particular photo I want to capture of Brighton’s West Pier and even before I set out, I knew conditions wouldn’t be right for that particular shot but I had another one in mind to capture a long exposure photo of the Palace Pier as the sun was setting. With so much going on architecturally I knew that by capturing the pier as a long exposure photo, all of the details in the sky and water will be rendered smooth and the entire composition would be simplified and less distracting. I used a 10-stop Formatt-Hitech neutral density filter to capture this 3 minute exposure below and if you want to read more about how I take long exposure photos, take a look at this post: How I Take Long Exposure Pictures.

Palace Pier Long Exposure | Fujifilm X-T2 | XF18-55mm | 28mm | 181 seconds | f/9 | ISO200

Palace Pier Long Exposure | Fujifilm X-T2 | XF18-55mm | 28mm | 181 seconds | f/9 | ISO200

I finished the evening on the Palace Pier to capture the view down the coast towards the I360. With the last of the sun’s light illuminating these fantastic clouds through a thin gap near the horizon, I wanted to use them as the backdrop to both some closeups and wider landscape shots of the view in front of me. The red glow beneath the I360 pod works fantastically with the magenta glow towards the bottom of the frame.

This was a tricky image to capture while keeping as much noise out of the photo as I could by using a low ISO. I was in an exposed spot on the pier and the wind was strong and by using a longer focal length, this combination was just enough to introduce a bit of camera shake. I opened up the aperture to let a little more light in, reducing the exposure time just enough for me to capture the two closeup compositions below.

I360 in the Clouds Landscape | Fujifilm X-T2 | XF55-200mm | 141mm | 1/9th second | f/4.4 | ISO200

I360 in the Clouds Landscape | Fujifilm X-T2 | XF55-200mm | 141mm | 1/9th second | f/4.4 | ISO200

 
I360 in the Clouds Portrait | Fujifilm X-T2 | XF55-200mm | 200mm | 1/2 second | f/8 | ISO200

I360 in the Clouds Portrait | Fujifilm X-T2 | XF55-200mm | 200mm | 1/2 second | f/8 | ISO200

 
Brighton Beach at Dusk | Fujifilm X-T2 | XF18-55mm | 55mm | 10 seconds | f/10 | ISO200

Brighton Beach at Dusk | Fujifilm X-T2 | XF18-55mm | 55mm | 10 seconds | f/10 | ISO200

Printed image of Brighton Beach

Printing Your Photos

Both the image above of Brighton’s beach as the light was fading and the long exposure of Palace Pier are probably my favourite images of the evening. When I take images I really like, I like to make a print as it brings the photos to life.

Viewing photos on screen is fine but it doesn’t come close to seeing your work printed.

If you are interested in my printing process, take a look at this post here where I walk through printing an image I took of The Shard, London.

With the city lights shining bright and the vibrant blue tones, I decided to use a metallic gloss paper to print this image and I’m glad I did. It gave the final photo a fresh, vibrant finish which suites the subject incredibly well.

So, when you capture an image you really like, do consider printing the image yourself or via a trusted lab. You will not regret it!

As ever, please leave comments below if you have any thoughts or questions relating to this post.

Until next time.