Oceanic settings offer some of the best photographic opportunities in the natural world. However, capturing the complete beauty of the coast isn’t always as simple as pointing and shooting – even if you’ve perfected your landscape photography, coastal photography is a completely different kettle of fish.
Now that you know that you will need to consider several specific things before travelling out to snap your beach vista, we’ve put together 5 super handy tips for amateur photographers below. You’ll be sending your pics to National Geographic before you know it!
- Get your equipment in order
Although beautiful, beaches can be an enemy to the unprotected camera. With sharp sand flying around, water splashes, sudden waves, and salt in the air, it’s all too easy to corrode your photographing device. To save your equipment, see if you can invest in a water-proof or partially water-proof camera to start; if not, ensure that you can protect it with a rain-proof camera jacket. After shooting, wipe your equipment down with a damp cloth to get rid of any remaining salt and sand.
Other pieces of equipment you may consider investing in include items such as a neutral density filter – a filter which restricts the light allowed into your camera – as well as a graduated neutral density filter (which will really make the skyline pop).
- Choose interesting beach destinations and perspectives
Choose beaches that boast fascinating foreground or background features like trees, wharves, mountain ranges, seal colonies, and boulders to distinguish the scene. If you can, travel somewhere new: for example, Pakiri Beach is just a short drive out of Auckland and will give you the opportunity to photograph scenes such as horse treks and pohutakawa groves alongside the water.
Don’t be scared to play around with perspective. By walking just a hundred metres in another direction, you can picture an entirely different stunning coastal photography shot. Choose your angle carefully: do you want to showcase the view from above? below? offshore? onshore? from closer to the water itself? Reflections are another wonderful way of enhance your photo, so pay careful attention to how light is rebounding from the expanse of water around you.
- Think about focalisation and composition
Expanding on the previous tip: you can choose which features you wish to draw attention to in your photograph. What is the single point to which you’d like the eye to be drawn? A beach setting offers myriad options for primary subjects, so there’ll be no shortage of choice – try a few different features and enjoy the results. For example, you might be interested in shadows or silhouettes cast by people or natural bodies; you might be keen to capture the rising or falling sun, or you might seek out a beachside environment with a pier or a collection of boats anchored on the water. The options are endless!
- Pick your time of day
As with any natural setting, the coastal environment changes with the time of day. Sunrise and sunset are two obvious times to head to the beach for stunning photo opportunities, but the coast is also stunning in stormy, moody weather, or in the depths of a starry night.
Just ensure that you’ve adjusted your camera settings to best capture the type of light that you’re working with. For example, at night, you’ll need to tinker with your exposure significantly – keep your lens open, and manually adjust the brightness and shutter speed until the night sky is illuminated through your camera. Night photographs will usually require longer exposures, so placing your camera on a tripod and using a manual focus setting is the most stable way to go. Capturing that perfect stunning coastal photography shot isnt always easy but when done right can result in some great photos.