Monday, July 20, 2015

Beach Photography Tips

If you were to arrange a beach photo shoot, the best time of day would be when the light is the most ideal - either early morning as the sun is coming out or later in the evening when the sun is going down.  Life isn't a photo shoot though and a day at the beach isn't scheduled around lighting.  Tide charts?  Yes.  Sunset? No.  My camera has become an extension of me, which is why it accompanies us on a majority of our outings.  When I view the world, I find myself judging the light and framing out shots.  Somewhat similar to how I think of everyday situations in terms of tax.  As a CPA specializing in tax, it's hard to turn that off.  Just like it's hard for me to ignore that need to photograph.  So when we head to the beach, I like to bring my camera to not only capture time but to challenge myself, as no two days at the beach are the same.


If you're thinking of bringing your DSLR to the beach this summer, here are some tips from my crazy photography-thinking mind.

Learn Manual

I'm a firm believer that the camera is not smarter than me.  Learn to use your camera in manual mode.  (This doesn't mean manual focus.)  Taking control of the camera's settings will lead to creating photos that look the way you want them to, not the way your camera thinks you want them to.  Understand your camera and you'll see a world of difference.  This tip applies to any type of photography and will always be the first piece of advice I give.

Accept Challenges

I remember being terrified at the thought of photographing people out in the sun.  Now I think of it as a challenge.  And it's a non-stress challenge because these aren't clients.  There won't be any repercussions if I overexpose all the photos, rendering them unusable.  You can't learn if you don't step outside of your comfort zone.

(I like to call that one Baywatch Junior.)

Be Creative

It's high noon and there's no escaping the sun's brightness.  What to you do?  When you photograph people, keep in mind that they don't always have to be looking at the camera.  As a general rule, if you are photographing in the sun, you should keep the sun behind your subject.  Often, this isn't conventional especially if you aren't posing your subjects but rather capturing lifestyle-like frames.


Watch Your Composition

I always scan the entire frame before I click the shutter.  My biggest pet peeve is a crooked horizon line and even though I try to keep it straight, 50% of the time, it comes out crooked.  The simplest solution is to straighten while editing.  My goal is to get it right in the camera though.  Also, check for people or objects that will distract from the final photo.


The Art Of Appearing To Have The Beach To Yourself - A quick guide.
  1. Choose the least crowded spot on the beach 
  2. Wait for people to walk/swim by before taking photos
  3. Learn to use the clone tool post processing to remove what you couldn't in the frame
That picture above with Emily wearing the hat originally looked like this:


Even though you couldn't clearly see the people in the water, they were distracting so I cloned them out.  Bye-bye.  

The two poles in this next one couldn't be avoided.


So I removed them post processing.  It gives the photo a cleaner look.


Don't Make It A Photo Shoot

Don't feel like you have to spend your entire time at the beach photographing.  I don't.  Children tend to quickly tire of hearing, "Look here!"  Take some pictures and then put your camera away and enjoy the day.   


Protect Your Equipment

Here's an older post regarding taking your camera to the beach.  I recommend bringing a bag that is for the camera only and that can be cleaned of sand easily because no matter how careful you are, some sand will always find its way into your bag.  Changing your lens at the beach and keeping sand out of your camera can be viewed as an art.  

What lens should I use?

This is completely up to you.  What are your goals?  What is your "everyday" lens?  Do you want to pack/carry more than one lens and change lenses at the beach?  I sometimes prefer to use my wide angle lens for a different perspective.  Lately, though, I've been sticking with my 50mm.  All the photos in this post were taken with it.

Get out there and shoot!






Ashlee said...

Love these pictures! I think Baywatch Junior has to be my favorite though!

Christina said...

What photo editing program do you use for the clone tool?

Sarah said...

I use Photoshop Elements for cloning.