Experience and 'extremely long lens' helped PA photographer make front page splashes with wave pics

Press Association photographer Ben Birchall used his experience over six years of visiting Porthcawl harbour in South Wales to capture dramatic storm images which made front pages of The Independent, Daily Mail, Times and Daily Telegraph yesterday.

The Bristol-based photographer of 15 years captured the images of waves towering over the silhouettes of people on the Porthcawl harbour wall to illustrate the extreme weather Britain has been facing.

Asked by Press Gazette how it felt to take the pictures he said: "When you know you've got a frame it’s like scoring a goal. You get a feeling of gratification and elation.”

He added that he had been visiting Porthcawl harbour for six years and said: “It was the most dramatic I’ve ever seen it.”

In an interview with Radio 4's PM programme yesterday afternoon, Birchall explained how he got the pictures.
 

He said: "I got my camera out of the boot of the car, fitted an extremely long lens – a 400 mm lens – and I went to the headland quite a way from the harbour wall where the waves were dramatically breaking, framed it up, composed it, did the usual metering, under exposed it a little bit…and fired away."

He said he took 60 frames over 10 minutes and could immediately see that the composition and silhouettes looked good.

“That’s one good thing about the advent of digital photography, you feel it straight away because you can look straight away," he said.

Birchall said he stood far back from the harbour wall because: "The swell was so big, it looked so impressive that I realised I had to be a bit far back, but also there were so many people down there, storm chasers, photographers, people who just wanted to see the sea, that it made such a great sillhouette in front of the white spray and breaking waves."

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