Is there any setting more picturesque than a gorgeous beach on a perfect day?
The sun beaming down off the clear, blue water. The powdery white sand between your toes. The beautiful people taking it all in right along with you. Whether you’re an amateur taking pictures on your smartphone, or a professional photographer looking for the perfect backdrop, the beach is one of the most rewarding spots you can find for photography.
With a digital camera in your hands and an amazing beach setting at your fingertips, you may think you should just point and click at everything in sight. But if you follow these 10 beach photography tips, you will find that you end up doing a lot less deleting and a lot more showing off your pictures.
1) Pay Attention to the Horizon. When you are standing on the beach and shooting out into the ocean, the horizon can be a great focal point for your shots. Try to keep it squared in your pictures while also moving it around so it is not always exactly at the midpoint of your photo. The reason for not always placing to horizon at your photo’s midpoint is because oftentimes putting it there can make your picture feel like it’s been sliced in half.
2) Snapping a Perfect Wave. The biggest tip to shooting a wave is freezing the action. On certain cameras, there is a “sports” setting that will do this for you. If you don’t have that setting, you can achieve the same effect by lowering the ISO to sharpen the image. Then you must adjust the speed until you are happy with the outcome. Feel free to fiddle around with these settings until you achieve the exact look you want.
3) Sunup or Sundown. Photographers call these time periods the “Golden Hours” because of the amazing colors you will achieve by taking your pictures at these times. The low light that is present will allow you to capture some unique looks that would be impossible at times when the daylight is more powerful. You may have to practice a bit to take full advantage of this, but you will quickly see that the results are worth the added time.
4) Don’t Forget Your Flash. It may seem like everything is so bright and sunny, but in certain situations you may find that your pictures are getting too shadowy. This is especially true when you are taking pictures of people. In these cases, use your flash. It may not work on auto because the camera senses so much light, but there is always a way to force it to flash when you want it to.
5) Get that Perfect Reflection. One of the coolest things about beach photography is the opportunity to shoot pictures with reflections. Test out different angles to take full advantage of the sun beaming down off the water to add a unique element to your pictures that you can’t get anywhere else.
6) Use the Things the Sea Spits Out. At the beach, it is very common to see tons of neat items that have been washed up on shore. Worn down driftwood, marine plants, and even colorful jellyfish often sit right at the edge of the sand, with waves periodically washing over them. You should take full advantage of these items to create good and interesting composition in some of your photos.
7) Clouds Are Your Friends. While beaches may conjure up images of sunlight beaming down off the rolling water, make sure not to forget about the sky. Simply put, clouds look very cool on camera. If you incorporate clouds into your photography in the right way, you’ll get some amazing pictures that you will want to frame and hang up on your wall.
8) Black and White. I know it may seem counter-intuitive when your setting is a bright and vibrant beach, but you should also try taking some shots in black and white. This is particularly effective when the weather is a bit overcast, but is also a very good way to change to mood and feel of any photos you take. Do a little experimenting with this, and you may come up with something completely unique from all your other shots.
9) Shoot on a Stormy Day. Obviously, shooting pictures at the beach on a windy, stormy day will give your pictures a completely different look and feel. There also won’t be people in the background of your pictures, allowing you to give them a more desolate and dark mood. The crashing waves also make for a more dramatic look and feel.
10) Experiment with Filters. As you know, putting different filters on your camera will give it a different look and feel. In such an amazing setting as the beach, it’s advisable to try out different kinds of filters to give yourself a greater range of moods. You should definitely try a polarizing filter to reduce the reflection on the water when you are going for a more contrasting look.
Ferina Santos is part of the team behind Open Colleges, Australia’s provider of photographycourses. A feisty nerd at heart with an obsession for media and vanity, she captures all her random musings with daily photographs in her blog APinkBanana.