Quick Tips for Beach Photography
I remember what Anne Morrow Lindbergh said, “The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea.”
This is somehow true for photographers like me. The harder I try going artsy fartsy in capturing the blues and whites of shores and beaches, the less sincere my photos look when they come out. Random shots sometimes produce wonders, but sometimes isn’t really much to rely on if you really want some good photos of this summer destination.
So to answer these contradictions, I gathered 10 helpful tips to immortalize that perfect beach photo moment in wonderful snapshots.
- Be artistic.
Avoid pictures that resemble a flash card of sand, wave, sunrise or sunset. Consider having a subject where the eyes would take focus on. From there, let a good story unfold. It could be as simple as a crushed shell, a palm tree or the waves hitting the rocks.
2. Wait for the perfect timing.
Run to the beach for your best shot in the morning or the evening. Natural light from early morning or sundown will deliver interesting shadows in your pictures. It will also provide the right amount of brightness or dimness on your subject with a warm glow.
3. Anticipate and resolve the unruliness of the horizon.
Much as we want to capture the entire horizon, we simply cannot. If we force it, images appear sloping or cut. To avoid these, use the rule of thirds, thus, the horizon must be in either the lower third or upper third of your picture, where people usually look at.
Another good idea would be to position your subjects on one side of a photograph. Not only does this technique abide by the rule of thirds, it allows the background such as sand, water and the sky to play a dominant role in the picture.
4. Make the beach your exclusive studio.
Lighting conditions and people walking by are difficult to control. Balancing on the sand isn’t much of an easy task either. One way, then, to get that perfect beach picture is to set your shoots at times where people are fewer, or in beaches that are not congested with people. This way, you can adjust to different shots and present a variety of frames.
5. Adjust camera exposure.
Remember that light is the most important element of any photograph. To have an appropriately exposed image, you’d need just the right amount of light entering the lenses. Too much of it could come up with an overexposed and washed-out image. Too little, though, would produce a dark and underexposed image. If your camera has manual mode, feel free to familiarize yourself with adjusting the exposure to achieve the right blend.
6. Work on photo exposure by Spot Metering.
Spot Metering is ideal if the subject’s background is much brighter than the foreground, or if the overall feel of the subject is too bright or too dark. Spot metering makes the brightness range of the subject exceed the contrast range of the film. As the name implies, it is like adjusting the light meter on chosen spots on your photo. It also introduces another effect which is making your subject stand out from the background or vice versa for extra variety.
7. Use the Fill Flash option.
In bright backgrounds, people’s faces will often be hidden by shadows. You can avoid this by tuning your camera’s flash using Fill option instead of Auto. The flash will not affect the scenery but will bring your subjects out of the shadows.
8. Incorporate UV Filters.
Screening ultraviolet light out of your camera lenses makes a useful accessory in beach photography. This protects your images from creating unwanted hazy outcome.
9. Use Polarizers.
A polarizer cuts down reflections so that your photos convey high contrast. As a result, your sunlit waters turn ocean blue in bright light, and the sea at sunset turns a mysterious gray. If you need an idea of how it looks like, try seeing through polarizing sunglasses.
10. Play with black and white.
This technique is a classic. It creates an overwhelming or—for me—a melancholic effect on otherwise lifeless color photos.
Again, do not memorize these tips. Try learning and incorporating them into your shots by heart. To help you remember, here are some common problems that these tips can help address:
- Too much or too less light
- Flat or lifeless photos
- Awkward or uninteresting positions
External conditions are not the only culprits of poor shots; internal camera conditions also share the blame. To save you from the trouble, here are a few reminders:
- Be careful in changing your camera lenses and memory cards. These are very sensitive items and saltwater can tamper them.
- If you are not taking shots, keep your camera away from the water or put it inside a water pack.
- Before holding your camera, rinse your hands with fresh water to prevent saltwater from getting into your camera.
- The beach is fun but incredibly messy. Clean your camera with a microfiber after every shoot to get the dust, sand and water out.
- Select a camera cleaning kit with high quality. Some kits include compressed air tools. If it is substandard, it can blow dirt into the sensitive micro components of your camera and cause breakage.
- Use not-so-expensive UV filters or polarizing filters in your outdoor shoots. This is just a precaution so in case of scratches, you won’t lose much.
Every moment is precious. I hope this guide helps you capture it perfectly.
Rod Tolentino is a musician and a Marketing Consultant for UPrinting, a leading socially responsible online printing, marketing and technology firm that offers poster printing services and various printed marketing media.