The coastline has long been a favored location for photographers, and - with its ever changing landscape, light and moods - it's not difficult to see why. Beautiful seascapes shot in stunning locations can really enhance your image collection and help to take your photography skills to the next level. There are a few key tips that you can follow to increase your chances of success: read on to discover how to get it right first time, every time.
As with most photographic ventures, preparation is an important part of any successful shoot. Doing your homework before visiting the coast can save you time, keep you safe and increase your chances of bagging a winning shot.
Pick your spot
|Man-made structures can sometimes make good points of interest in |
seascapes: experiment to find out which ones work in your shots and
which are best left out.
The first task is to pick the right location. You can either do this by checking maps, then using a search engine to look up images and tips from other photographers who have already visited the area, or getting your hiking boots on and exploring on foot - my favored method.
Once you've honed in on a particular area, have a good look around at what's there. Are there any objects - like pylons or ugly buildings - that you'll want to avoid including in your final shot? Equally, are there any particularly interesting features - such as rock formations, fossils, rock pools etc - that would act as foreground interest and enhance your composition? Take some time to explore the area, taking some test shots from different perspectives and angles until you find a composition that you think works.
The right light
|If spectacular colors are what you're after, stick to shooting in the |
'golden hour' that follows sunrise and precedes sunset.
Once you've found a scene that you'd like to capture, research everything you can in order to determine the best time of day to return for your photo session. Light is one of the most important aspects that will determine the look of your shot. Obviously you can't do anything to control it, but you can do a bit of legwork to estimate when your scene is most likely going to be looking its best.
To determine the position of the sun in the sky at any given time of day, use a tool like the Flight Logistics Photographer's Sun Compass - available for roughly $40 from www.flight-logistics.com - or search the Web for one of the numerous printable / online calculators. There's even an iPhone app (Helios Sun Position Calculator - $29.99 from iTunes). These tools will help you work out where the sun will rise and/or set (generally the best times of day for shooting seascapes) - for amazing colors and drama, shoot during the 'golden hour' immediately after sunrise and before sunset and be sure to arrive well in advance of these times to give you the opportunity to get set up.
High or low?
|A low tide reveals rock formations and other elements that can add further interest to your compositions.|
Now you need to work out the days on which sun being in the right position will coincide with the tide, the timing of which changes on a daily basis, with seasonal fluctuations to take into account too. Thankfully, there's a wealth of information online, with websites like www.tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov (US only) providing detailed data for the tides on your chosen date(s) / time(s).
The best way to decide whether your chosen location looks better at low or high tide is to visit it at both. High tide can cover up unsightly features that might play havoc with your composition, but usually a low tide reveals hidden gems like rock formations and weather-beaten man-made coastal defenses that are prime candidates for points of interest in your shot.
Perfect your composition
|The Rule of Thirds helps to create a pleasing composition in this |
shot, while the path leads the eye from the foreground to the
There are some tried-and-tested rules you can follow to ensure harmonious compositions that are worth sticking to initially. but don't be afraid to get creative and bend them occasionally too.
The Rule of Thirds is one such method you can rely on to compose your shots: simply imagine your scene dissected into thirds both horizontally and vertically (many camera models provide an overlay that does this for you if you shoot using Live View) then position objects of interest like rocks, the horizon etc. on the points where the lines intersect.
Leading lines are also aesthetically pleasing and prove useful as they draw the viewer's eye into the distance. Look for coastal defenses, piers and lines of rocks that stretch out to sea, or move around until you've successfully lined up some objects in the fore, middle and background: these act as visual 'stepping stones' that take the eye on a journey from the front of the scene right up to the horizon.
Once you've got your 'safe' shots, if the light's still looking good, it's time to experiment. Explore options like shooting from high or very low angles, tilting the camera up or down to include a greater proportion of the sky or land/sea than you would normally, and note the effect (this tends to work best if you have a particularly dramatic sky - like a fiery sunset - or stormy sea with crashing waves for example).
Weather the storm
|The colors and light either side of a big storm can be spectacular for seascape photography.|
You've chosen your location, picked the spot(s) you want to shoot from and worked out the date / time that the position of the sun and the tide will coincide to give you the best-looking scene; now all that remains is to keep an eye on the weather forecast and be ready to go if things look promising.
On the subject of weather conditions - don't just look out for fair weather, or you might miss out on something spectacular. For the most beautiful seascapes, at the very least you'll need some fluffy clouds in the sky - if it's completely clear it tends to lack color and interest. My favored conditions are either side of storms (as well as occasionally during, if it's safe): the cloud formations, colors and the wild look of the sea can really add another dimension to the shot.
Look out for predicted storms that are going to be followed by fine weather in particular - these conditions often lead to spectacular looking scenes with dramatic clouds and shafts of light illuminating portions of the land and sea as the sun starts to break through the clouds.
Prepare for the worst
Whatever weather conditions you're planning on heading out in, make sure you pack your kit bag to suit the situation. If it's likely to be wet and windy, wear layers of clothing to allow you to control your body temperature (add or remove layers if you start to feel cold / warm) and always take some waterproof outer clothing when visiting the coast: there's nothing worse than spending an entire shoot feeling cold and damp.
Conversely, warm weather can make you just as uncomfortable, so take plenty of sun block, wear a hat and cover up with light clothing to prevent getting burnt. Take plenty of food and drink to keep you fuelled for the duration of your shoot too: a comfortable photographer that's been well fed and watered will produce better images than a miserable, hungry one.
Take a torch, towels and soft cloths for drying off yourself and your equipment, plus a range of lenses so you can experiment if the conditions and light allow it.
Ensure that your camera gear is protected from the elements too: there are plenty of weatherproof covers available on the market to protect your camera body and lens(s), or you can fashion your own using clear plastic bags (so you can still see the controls) secured with rubber bands. Fit a UV filter to your lens to protect the front element from salt water - it's much easier to clean or replace a dirty / scratched filter than a lens!
The right settings
|Selecting a small aperture ensures the foreground and background elements are all in sharp focus.|
If your camera allows it, set it to capture RAW files and JPEGs simultaneously, as this will give you the most flexibility when editing your images post-shoot. For the uninitiated, RAW files are essentially 'digital negatives': images that remain untouched by the in-camera processing and compression that occurs when your camera captures a JPEG. The result is a file that can be manipulated more fully without degrading the image quality, and you have the option of saving your processed image in a lossless (uncompressed) format to ensure the best possible results.
Generally, you'll want to keep your ISO low to avoid unsightly noise in your shots, and your aperture small (large number, e.g. f16-22) to keep as much of the scene in sharp focus as possible (a wider depth-of-field). This means that you're likely to need to use slower shutter speeds to expose your images correctly (particularly in low light) so taking a sturdy tripod to support your camera is advisable if you want to keep your shots pin-sharp and shake-free. You can cut the risk of camera shake further by using a remote shutter release or activating your camera's self-timer.
|Copyright: Josie Reavely 2011 / www.jreavely.com |
A Neutral Density filter was used to allow the shutter to be kept open longer, capturing some motion in the waves.
Sometimes - if the scene's too bright or there's too much contrast between the sea and sky for your camera's native dynamic range to cope with - you need to give it a helping hand. Neutral Density Graduated filters ('ND Grads') are shaded at the top, graduating to a clear finish at the bottom. Placed over the front element of your lens, you can position the filter to stop down an overly bright sky, allowing you to correctly expose both it and the darker foreground for example.
If you're keen on recreating the 'misty' look that many photographers favor in their watery compositions, a Neutral Density filter can also prove useful. This type of filter has a uniform tint that blocks out some of the light from entering your lens, allowing you to use slower shutter speeds than you would normally be able to without overexposing the scene. Both ND and ND Grad filters - like those available from Cokin and LEE Filters for example - slot into square holders that screw onto the front of your lens. These holders feature multiple slots, allowing you to combine filters (which are available with different levels of shading, measured in stops), stacking them to further cut out ambient light.
The longer the exposure, the mistier and less distinct the water - and any clouds - will appear. Lengthen the time for which the shutter is open to a few seconds or more to inject more movement and dynamism into your images, or shorten the exposure to freeze the motion of the waves. Around 1/2 second will give you the best of both: a little movement in the water, but the waves will still retain their shape.
A circular polarizer can also prove useful for seascape photography, as it cuts out some of the light, deepens blue skies and makes fluffy white clouds really stand out. This type of filter can also help to cut through haze, enriching colors as a result, and to reduce or eliminate reflections on non-metallic surfaces - including the water.
|Try out different viewpoints and perspectives to capture a unique view |
of your favorite coastal spot.
The possibilities for achieving exciting, original results when photographing at the coast are endless. With so many opportunities to explore, you're likely to want to return again and again: each time you do, try something a little bit different - whether it's experimenting with filters, trying out a different camera angle, shooting several frames in succession to create a panorama, or using different lenses to gain another perspective on a scene - before long, you'll have a portfolio burgeoning with seascapes to be proud of.
Josie Reavely is a freelance writer and photographer based in the UK. Before launching her freelance career, Josie was the Reviews Editor for Digital Photographer magazine; she continues to review the latest camera models and write features for a range of publications and websites, as well as taking on a range of exciting photography projects. For more details or to get in touch, visit www.jreavely.com.
All images © Josie Reavely 2011 / www.jreavely.com
Sep 13, 2014
Jul 27, 2014
Sep 8, 2014
Jul 17, 2014
|Dirt Hose by poppyjk|
|European bee-eaters by drvanger|
from A Big Year - birds
|Fat Is Beautiful Guinea 2008 DP by MarioSS|
from - Fat is Beautiful - (Woman's Portrait n Black and White+ A Border)
The Ukrainian Parliament banned statues of Lenin in 2015. Two years later, the monuments no longer adorn public buildings or stand watch over town squares, but they're still there.
If you had to choose one camera to bring along for the ultimate West coast road trip, what would it be? DPR's Sam Spencer choose the X100F. Read more
The a9 boasts impressive capability. As more examples of it in practice pour in, Sony's claims hold up. Watch the a9 track and maintain focus on a rapidly approaching basketball.
Last week, more than a million tonnes of Californian coastline slid into the ocean, taking part of Highway 1 with it. Check out the remodeling in photos taken before and after the landslide.
Even after eighteen months of reviewing the latest, greatest, shiniest and must-buy-me-est new gear, DPReview staffer Carey Rose has continued to use older DSLR cameras for his freelance work. But now, that might be changing. Read more
Sony is the world's leading mirrorless camera brand but remains third for ILCs overall, it's said in a presentation to investors. A focus on high value cameras and lenses should boost operating income, it says. Read more
It's nicknamed the 'Cycloptic Mustard Monster,' and is a 3D printed medium format camera. Read more
The new NanGuang LED lights are battery powered and come with accessories including filters and diffusers.
Have you been telling yourself, "Hey, I really need one of those 8K displays?" A video about Dell's new 8K monitor shows you what to expect. Is it really that much better?
Tamara Lackey, a Nikon ambassador USA and pro shooter, discusses embracing self-consciousness as a means of connecting with subjects.
There's a new Spiderman movie coming out and the poster been generating a lot of online chatter. Mostly about how it looks like the creation of a fevered teenager that just discovered Photoshop.
An honest defense of the system's merits, with photos as proof.
Copyright disputes are no fun at all. 'Binded' is a new startup that aims to simplify the process of registering - and enforcing - copyright for photographers. Read more
Not everyone wants to pay a premium for a long zoom camera. Thankfully, there are many reasonably priced cameras available, though they won't offer the same image quality as enthusiast models. In this updated roundup we look at big zoom cameras with more consumer-friendly price tags. Read more
Think Tank Photo has updated two of its popular bag lines with improvements to functionality. Read more
We’ve all seen Bob Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo, but there's another.
The sample footage looks good.
It will automatically pick the best camera settings depending on shooting conditions. It even promises enhanced functionality for your camera, like exposure and focus stacking. It already supports many cameras from Canon, Fuji, Nikon and Sony. Read more
As if $13,950 wasn’t enough to pay for a special edition lens, the Leica Store in San Francisco is offering a prototype of said lens for $24,995. Read more
Make those old photos disappear without deleting them forever.
Firmware updates enable 10 fps shooting with adapted A-mount lenses, and faster startup times and better compatibility for 20 fps shooting when using native lenses on the a9.
Fujifilm has released firmware updates for its camera models X-T2, X-Pro2, GFX 50s, X-T20, X100F and X-T1 and updates to three of its software products.
A 22 year-old Romanian photographer uses his DJI Phantom 4 drone to capture unique perspectives of the city where he now lives.
What's it like to ride the waves with champion surfer Kelly Slater? This VR video from Teton Gravity Research gives you a taste.
When Nikon released the full-frame D3 in 2007, it changed the professional photography industry. In this week's Throwback Thursday, Barney remembers a legend. Read more
The new stuff should have better red hues, improved sensitivity and finer grain - but don't worry - will still shift blues to green, greens to purple and yellows to pink.
Ricoh has introduced a new rugged compact camera with a 16MP CMOS sensor, 28-140mm lens, 2.7" LCD and built-in LED macro lights. Read more
This compact drone can shoot HD video using a 2-axis stabilized 12MP camera. Read more
The new Prynt Pocket can print a photo directly from their iPhone simply by inserting the phone into the printer, then snapping a photo. Each print will cost about 50 cents. Read more
Updates for Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom CC bring support for the Sony A9 and Panasonic ZS70/TZ90, along with bug fixes.