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Low Season Travel Photography: In Search of Winter Seascapes

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Warm and welcoming in summer months, seaside in low season is a perfect place for travel and landscape photographers. Subdued colours, fantastic views and barely anyone around - isn't it a true paradise for thoughtful landscape hunters? Armed not only with their trusty camera, but also with good walking shoes and jackets, they head out in search of wintry beauty of nature...

Etretat 9

On my trip through Normandy, I stopped for half a day in Etretat, a small town on the northern coast of France, famous for its coastal scenery and white cliffs. Densely populated in summer months, Etretat in late December is a peacefully pastoral place. For the past two centuries, it attracted well-known painters, such as Claude Monet and Gustave Courbet, as well as writers, Guy de Maupassan and Gustave Flaubert among others. Located only 3 hour away from Paris, Etretat soon became a popular place to visit by holiday makers from all over France.

Etretat 11

So what can one photograph when on the beach? The sea, of course! The sea in winter is never the same: it may change colour from green to blue, from dark grey to almost white, it may be calm or rough, but it's always incredibly endless. During my stay in Etretat, the sky was cloudy and the sea was of light turquoise colour, hemmed by white foamy waves. In this very simple image, I included a person passing by along the waterline, so small compared to the wide beach full of colourful pebbles and the vast sea.

Etretat 1

On my left, the natural arch of the famous Falaise d'Aval ("downstream cliff") and the Aiguille ("the needle") were dominating the landscape.

Etretat 5

On my right, a ridge of 70 meters high white cliffs continued towards the horizon, ending with another arch, Falaise d'Amont ("upstream cliff").

Etretat 2

Seemingly white from afar, the cliffs up close proved to be of all possible colours and textures, from white to bright yellow, from brown to almost black. Rocks formations of all shapes could be found along the coast - a perfect exercise for some abstract images.

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An empty crab shell, red on the outside and unexpectedly blue on the inside, also deserves a photo!

Etretat 6

An attentive reader may have noticed that all the photos are taken with a wide angle lens. To keep my camera bag lightweight, I only brought one lens with me, Canon 17-40mm. I therefore could not zoom on far away cliffs, however, distortion of a wide angle lens allowed me to show the immense vastness of seascape in all its beauty.

Etretat 04 Etretat 03

After some time on the beach, I climbed uphill to the chapel Notre-Dame de la Garde to see what the coast looks like from the top. The views were truly breathtaking! I would often wait for another tourist to walk into my frame or for a seagull to fly in to show the true scale of the landscape. And of course one has to be extra careful on the edge as it is easy to get distracted in search of the best composition.

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My photo walk on the white cliffs of Etretat ended as it often does in winter - by a drizzling rain. What a perfect time to get a well-deserved croissant and a cup of hot chocolate in one of the seaside cafés!

Etretat 13

Have you ever photographed by the sea in low season? Share your best images with us!

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About the Author

Nadia Gric

Nadia Gric

Nadia is passionate about the visual aspect of life and the personalities she meets along the way. Living in the heart of Paris, Nadia never stops exploring the City of Light through her camera and readily shares her knowledge and love for photography. Learn more...