The coast holds a special allure for many photographers, and it’s easy to see why. The drama of the changing sea can be used to express a wide range of emotions, from the turbulent to the sublime. In this photography tutorial we’ve decided to see if we can capture the sea at the calm end of the mood scale by breaking some of the conventional rules around white balance and capturing realistic tones to create a more abstract picture.
We’ve gone for a simple composition with the horizon in the middle of a square crop. It breaks one of the golden rules of composition, but it’s effective, and it helps create a tranquil feeling and gives our image a minimal, almost Zen-like, simplicity that’s both pleasing and relaxing to look at.
To get the deep blue hue in this abstract picture we essentially just used the wrong white balance setting. The incandescent/tungsten setting we used would normally cool down the warm glow cast by light sources such as light bulbs, but here the white balance setting has intensified the blues in the scene to great effect.
Step 1: Keep it steady
You’ll need to use a sturdy tripod to prevent camera shake or unwanted movement. Set your digital camera to manual exposure and manual focus, then experiment with slow shutter speeds. We exposed for 5 seconds at f/18.
Step 2: Set your white balance
Next you need to set your digital camera’s white balance to incandescent/tungsten. This will make your picture appear intensely blue. Sometimes using an inappropriate white balance can be a good thing as it adds a creative edge to your shots.
Step 3: Get even more creative
You’ve come this far in breaking the rules, why not step a little closer to the edge. With your new abstract pictures loaded onto your computer, use Photoshop Elements or CS to crop the images to the square format and place them next to each other to create a diptych, which is essentially two pictures next to each other. This is a great way to bring your photo ideas to life and make your images look like contemporary art.