this is the first in a small series where i’ll break down some of my photographs. i’ll discuss how i arrived at one of my favourite photographs ever.

In Frame: Sue and the Sea

Seoul, Ocean, Water, Sea, South Korea, Model, Portrait
final image

this was taken on the last weekend in september, on eulwangri beach in south korea. the sun was just setting and the tide was on it’s way in. sue and i are both self-proclaimed thalassophiles, which according to ever-reliable internet means we love the ocean, and we’d been planning this for ages. turns out, this was pretty much the last good weekend of the summer. it really did end up being a farewell to summer frame.

the weather

the weather was not pleasant at all, the wind was howling through the little seaside town, and it was genuinely cold. the wind worked to both our advantage and disadvantage, ruining about 65% of our frames, but working magically in the others, as was the case with the photograph above.

the tools

this was shot with my nikon d750 and the 24mm 1.8g nikkor, which i have now sold and replaced with the 28mm 1.4e. people often say you should shoot portraits with nothing wider than a 85mm, but that isn’t really my thing. most of my images are shot between 50 and 24. the 24mm kept the background in the image while still drawing your eye to sue.

straight out of the camera

the process

it was shot at f2.2, and underexposed by two stops, so that i could decide later if i wanted to blow the highlights or not. i edited it with my atlantic preset, the same i use as a starting point on nearly all my images, and used a bunch of little clicks and tricks in lightroom to render the image the way i wanted it.

if you have any questions, feel free to message me. until next time – T


tim van der merwe is based in seoul, south korea. the aesthetics of his photographs are drawn from years as a musician, an appreciation for a wabi-sabi outlook on life, and colouring that reflects the atlantic, who’s coast he grew up near.  his photographic style is inherently influenced by photo-journalism, with a love of untouched moments of humanity and connection.