As a native Floridian it’s natural for me to love the beach, and as a photographer it’s just as natural for me to love taking photos of them. Enjoyable though it is, beach photography does pose its own set of challenges, and so today I’d like to offer a few tips to help you rise up to the challenge and create beautiful beach photography.
Tip 1: Use a dragged exposure to capture movement
There’s a temptation with the ocean to put on an ND filter and expose for several minutes. While this works great for some scenes, it’s not always the best choice. One great way to get a sense for the movement of the ocean without smoothing over everything is by using what I call a dragged exposure. With a shutter speed of about 1-3 seconds, you’ll be able to capture the movement of the water and waves without losing the beautiful textures they provide. The above image is an example of this.
Tip 2: Be mindful of tripod movement
If you’re shooting with a tripod, sand and water can make things difficult. No matter how far you dig down into it there’s likely to be some movement, particularly if you’re close enough for the waves to reach the tripod. Even gentle waves move things around enough to see a difference from photo to photo. If you’re bracketing or planning on blending multiple exposures, this is important to keep in mind!
Tip 3: Use a polarizing filter
Polarizing filters are a great friend to photographers, especially where water and skies are involved. In the photo above, I used it to cut down on the reflection of the glassy wave rolling in. During the daytime, it can be used to give clarity to the sky and clouds.
Bonus Tip: Clean the tripod!
Sand and salt water are not the best friends of a tripod. Sand can get lodged in the joints and the salt water can lead to corrosion. It is probably wise to completely dismantle your tripod and clean it about once or twice a year if you shoot outdoors frequently. However, there are simpler methods that also help. For example, after shooting in water, I fully extend my tripod legs and leave them unlocked for at least several hours so air can circulate throughout. Finally, I rub everything down with a damp cloth and dry it immediately after.
Photographing beach scenes, especially at sunset or sunrise, is one of my favorite things to do as a photographer, and I hope these tips will help you take better images for yourself. Thanks for reading and if it helped you out, please take a moment to share using one of the icons below. Happy shooting!