Beach photography: how to shoot striking seaside pictures of any subject you want

Beach photography: how to shoot stunning seaside pictures of any subject you want

In our new Shoot Like A Pro series we turn our attention to beach photography and run through some of the best techniques photographers can use to capture seaside pictures of a variety of subjects.

Beach photography: how to shoot stunning seaside pictures of any subject you want

All images by Chris Rutter, unless noted.

There are few places that offer the variety and inspiration of the coast, but how do you make the most of all the amazing photo subjects you’ll find by the sea? Well, that’s what we’re here to show you. Read on, and you’ll discover all the techniques and equipment you’ll need to shoot stunning images of the coast).

But there’s more to coastal photography than classic seascape and landscape compositions. There’s a vast range of other subjects to have a go at shooting, from family portraits and rock pool macros to coastal flora and fauna.

We’ll show you what to look out for when you arrive at the coast, and reveal some pro techniques and shortcuts that will help take your coastal photography to the next level.

Needless to say, there are plenty of special techniques and effects you can use to make your coastal images stand out.

From what to look for when shooting black-and-white images to HDR techniques and capturing movement with long shutter speeds, we’ll give you the inside-track on ways to improve your photos, both in-camera and during post-processing.

Whether you’re into landscapes, macros, portraits or wildlife you’ll find lots and lots of techniques and inspiration here. So let’s go coastal…

How to shoot big, dramatic seascapes

How to shoot big, dramatic seascapes

What to pack

  • Tripod
  • Wide-angle lens
  • Cleaning equipment
  • Spirit level
  • Polariser
  • ND filter

With its clear horizons and open sea there are few locations that can match the wide views that you get around the coast. Making the most of these vistas takes a little planning and an eye for detail, though.

The first thing to think about is the best time of day to visit your chosen location. If you’re after sunrises you need to be on an east-facing beach; if you’re after sunsets you need to be on a west-facing beach.

Even during the day the angle of the sun will play a huge part in the look of your images.

Try to plan a visit when the sun is reasonably low in the sky and will provide some side lighting to bring out the detail and textures of the landscape.

Once you’re there, it’s all about photo composition. Remember some of the simple rules, such as using foreground interest and lines to draw in the eye, and you won’t go too far wrong, but don’t be afraid to experiment with new viewpoints.

Getting down low among the rocks or sand will make the most of interesting foreground subjects and cloud formations, while getting up high on cliff tops will give you a much more comprehensive view of the beach and sea.

A polariser filter is pretty much essential for making the most of blue skies and water. By rotating the filter you can darken blue skies, making the clouds stand out and adding impact to your shots.

You’ll also find the polariser useful for reducing the glare from the sea, making it look darker and more colourful.

One potential problem you need to be aware of is when using extreme wide-angle lenses you can get uneven blue skies. Watch out for dark bands if you’re shooting with a lens shorter than 18mm on a Four Thirds or APS-C sensor, or 24mm on a full-frame sensor.

PAGE 1: How to shoot big, dramatic seascapes
PAGE 2: Beach photography tips for capturing dramatic seas
PAGE 3: Take your beach photography to the next step


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