Seaside sunset photography tips from our professional photographer
Use a low vantage point
“Although this was one of my first shots of the day, it’s actually better than any of my previous photos of Blackpool thanks to Tom’s great advice!” Jim says.
“He suggested we get down low, using the sand ripples to lead the eye into the shot, and to use a vertical photo composition so we could place the tower in the top-right third.
“We waited for the late afternoon sun to light up the pier and tower, which works great against the moody grey clouds. But what really lifts the image is the clever use of the pools in the sand, which has created a beautiful reflection and also nice foreground interest!”
Turn the noise down
“Tom explained that I should keep the ISO at its lowest setting of ISO100. I was initially using the Auto ISO setting, which could sometimes automatically jump up to 200 or 400, but Tom said as I was shooting with a tripod, I didn’t need to try and achieve the faster shutter speeds required when working handheld. Keeping the ISO low also means I can capture the highest quality images with the lowest potential noise levels.”
Use an ND Grad filter
“For this shot we concentrated on the end of the pier and the view out to sea,” Jim says. “As the sky was brighter than the sandy foreground, Tom lent me his 2-stop ND Grad filter.
“This enabled me to capture a balanced exposure as well as darkening the moody clouds gathering in the sky. We used the rule of thirds and placed the main buildings on the pier in the top-right corner. Again, we used the leading lines of the ripples in the sand and reflection in the pools to create a little foreground interest.”
Jim didn’t realise his Canon 400D had different autofocus (AF) modes. “Tom explained the three AF modes: One-Shot AF is for shooting still subjects; AI Servo AF is for shooting moving subjects; and AI Focus AF switches between the two so is good for shooting still subjects that then might move,” says Jim, “As we were photographing seaside views, I used One-Shot AF mode.”
“For this shot we moved along to the pier with the fairground to create a nice silhouette against the increasingly colourful sky. We took lots of shots as the sun was setting, but this is my favourite as the colours and clouds in the sky were at their best. I used Adobe’s Camera Raw software to warm up the raw image by dragging the Temperature slider up to around 7,000K.”
Try using a telephoto lens
“Tom suggested I used my telephoto zoom lens to capture a different perspective of the same scene. I focused on the most colourful part – the setting sun – by zooming in with a focal length of 150mm, this meant the end of the pier was still the main feature. I like the soft light on the side of the pier. Again, I warmed up the image using the Temperature slider in Adobe Camera Raw.”
PAGE 1: Meet our professional photographer and apprentice
PAGE 2: Seaside sunset photography tips from our professional photographer
PAGE 3: Final tips from our professional photographer
PAGE 4: Our professional photographer’s recommended gear
PAGE 5: Shot of the Day
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