2018 Summer Solstice at Machrihanish

2018 Summer Solstice at Machrihanish

I haven’t been doing any landscapes lately so I headed out for the 2018 Summer Solstice at Machrihanish. I had decided at the last minute after checking the weather that it was going to be a good sunset so grabbed my bag and dog and hit the beach.

I have to be honest here, if it wasn’t for the fact that I had the dog with me I would have binned the session before I got there.

Marine Layer

En-route I could see a marine layer of cloud lingering on the horizon and I just knew that this was going to snuff out any decent colour.

It really annoys me the marine layer. From my 9-5 job I can see out to the west and on this day it appeared to be clear, it’s not really until the sun starts to get lower that you start to notice the cloud on the horizon.

Anyway, I decided to carry on, as Cain was whimpering in the back with excitement for his walk, at least one of us was still excited!

Composition Nightmare

I’ve walked this coastline quite a few times and it’s not the easiest to find a good composition from.

There are times when the tide is right that it has cut into the shoreline creating fantastic opportunities to capture motion in the water with a half second shutter speed but not tonight, the tide was in too high.

It was becoming a composition nightmare for me. I noticed a nice bit of driftwood at the start of the walk but it was too early to get setup as I had to give the dog a decent walk also.

I’ll fast forward about 2 miles as there really was nothing to capture. I had decided that I would climb up onto the sand dunes and see what the view was like from there but upon reaching the top there was nothing that appealed to me.

See the image I took on my phone as a test shot.

Empty Handed

At this point I had accepted that I was leaving empty handed. I hate heading out and getting nothing but it does happen, however I am a stubborn bugger.


I decided to cheat a little and improvise. I grabbed a bit of driftwood from the top of the shoreline and was going to place it down next to where the water was washing up on the shore, but Cain had other plans!!!

So, after Cain destroyed my first piece of driftwood I grabbed another and carried out my plan 🙂 by the way it’s not so easy wrestling a large branch with an 8 stone dog on the beach when he thinks it’s his.

The Image

I had an idea in my head how I wanted the image to look. I was after the half second exposure time to capture motion in the water as it receded back passed the driftwood. I was mindful of the position of the sun as I had to control the highlights also.

I fired on my 2 stop soft grad nd filter to bring down the highlights but I could have done with a 3 stop as when the sun broke out from the clouds it did blow out a bit.

I focus stacked the image below, focusing on the branch nearest the camera, then on the branch furthest away and then on the horizon. I merged these in photoshop after doing most of my editing in adobe camera raw.

This technique is awesome if you want complete focus throughout your image, as I did. It is however a bit of a nightmare when you have movement in the image, like mine here with the water coming in and out, so a little bit of work required in post.

2018 Summer Solstice at Machrihanish



One thing I have notice that I am doing a lot of just now is shooting in Portrait orientation.

I find when I have a foreground such as this, i.e. one that leads you through the image it makes more sense for the image to be shot this way as it allows you to balance the image further up in the frame and it also makes the foreground element more obvious and to stand out more.

Long Exposure

I was arguing with myself whether to shoot a Long Exposure or not. The tide was coming in and moving the branch but I did shoot one at 16 seconds. I did do longer but the branch did move so here’s the 16 second image.


Out of the 2 I think I prefer the long exposure image more, which by the way was shot with the Canon 17-40mm F4 L lens and also focus stacked.

I did take a few things away from this shoot, firstly sometimes when you are going for a long walk the best composition is at the start of the walk. As I said earlier I noticed a nice bit of driftwood as I started the walk but chose to continue walking for other reasons, perhaps I should have just turned round at a suitable time and headed back for this shot rather than staging one.

Secondly, most of the time there is an image to be had. I sat up on the sand dune for about 10 minutes scanning the beach for an image but couldn’t find one. It wasn’t until I had walked down and noticed the driftwood all piled up that I thought ‘Yip, you will do’, so keep the eyes and brain looking.

Feel free to check out a previous visit to Machrihanish Beach here.

If you like Machrihanish check out the website for the village or their Facebook Page

Also please leave any comments you wish and I will reply as soon as I can.


4 thoughts on “2018 Summer Solstice at Machrihanish

Add yours

  1. Wow. It’s such a great opportunity to have an honest and detailed glimpse into how a pro does it. I have no idea how you found something you liked on my blog but you must have since that’s how I found my way over here.
    I suppose we do it diametrically opposite, but our dogs whimpers with excitement the same way and that has priority. 😉 Also, our beaches look much the same, there is driftwood, the sun sets under a similar angle and sometimes there are low clouds that weren’t there before.
    This is where all similarities end. 😀 Your images are beautiful.
    Thank you for sharing your walk. The technicalities I leave to those who know what they are doing. I just feel and click.


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