Expert advice and tips on improving your photography from Damien Demolder. He gives his appraisal of Sunset Seal by Ashley Hemsley and offers advice on how it might be improved.

Photo: Sunset Seal at Beachy Head

Taken by: Ashley Hemsley

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 24-205mm, 1/100sec at f/10, ISO 100

Before: The bright sky dominates the image

Before: The bright sky dominates the image

It was a stroke of luck for Ashley to come across this seal lolling on the shore at sunset during a visit to Beachy Head in East Sussex. I like the way Ashley has created a wide composition to allow the seal’s surroundings to feature in the frame. It’s good to show wildlife in the context of the environment.

The problem here, though, is that our Sammy seal doesn’t stand out. There is a big difference between the brightness of the sky, the water, cliffs and the seal. The sky is the first thing we look at, then we see the cliffs before we notice the rather sorry bundle on the shore. The exposure tells us that the sky is the subject, not the seal. Lightening the exposure allows us to see the detail of the seal, but that makes the sky too bright. The solution was to balance the sky and the seal with a graduated neutral density filter at the time of shooting. A 1-stop filter would have done this nicely, as there is not enough light on the seal.

After: A balanced image ensures we see details

After: A balanced image ensures we see details