Drone shots of a beach make for fascinating photos – especially with your drone at a considerable elevation. Drones capture the contrast between the yellows of the sand and the deep aqua blue of the water. The crashing white waves on the beach separate these two elements. You might also go to the beach with your drone at sunrise or sunset to capture how the changing light varies the landscape from above. Using a drone adds a whole new perspective to beach photography and can compliment your eye-level shots while out and about.
There’s a broad range of filters ideal for beach photography that optimise your control of exposure. By using a filter, you can make sure to get well-exposed photos even in the harshest of sun. Plus, a filter that screws to the front of your lens has the added value of protecting it from the sand. It’s easier to replace a $50 scratched filter than a $500 lens! A UV filter is the cheapest of the filter options and provides that level of protection. They also filter out the UV light that hits the lens and the sensor – this can otherwise cause unwanted atmospheric effects such as haze or light leaks.
While a tripod may seem like a hindrance on sandy terrain, they come in handy for various styles of beach photography. A tripod supports and keeps your camera still and stable. You require this level of stability if you’re doing long exposure work with slow shutter speeds. With a tripod, you won’t have camera shake that spoils your composition. This is especially handy when shooting sunrise or sunset images.
While a sunny beach can be incredibly bright, there are still situations where a flash can make all the difference. It’s especially critical when you’re shooting beach portraits, and you want an even amount of light across your subject’s face. With the sun beating down, the eyebrows, nose, lips and chin cast deep shadows. This distorts your subject’s features. With an on-camera flash, you can cast light to push back the shadows without over-exposing the face. If your flash has a diffuser, then apply it to soften the harshness a flash causes. Alternatively, use a silver or gold reflector to cast the sunlight at your subject from a lower angle.
The best lens for beach photography is going to depend on what you’re planning to shoot. If you want to capture the vast sweeping beaches and ocean, then a wide-angle lens is best. This way, you’ll capture the expansive landscape. If you’re shooting portraits but want a little of the landscape for context, using a longer lens makes sense. To avoid changing lenses and risk getting sand inside the camera, use a zoom lens that covers a 24-70mm focal range. For better beach photos during the day, add a lens hood. Beaches are sunny and have a lot of glare caused by the whiteness of the sand and the light reflected off the water. This light can wash out an image and make it hazy. With a lens hood, you cut down the amount of light entering the lens at extreme angles.
If you’re heading down to your local beach with your expensive camera, you’ll need to take a few precautions to make sure it stays clean and functional. Cameras have a standard operating temperature – if they get too cold or too hot, they’ll simply stop working. Be aware of leaving your gear in the hot sun for too long. Once you get sand inside your equipment, you might as well send it off to the repair centre the next day. If your camera and lenses are weather-sealed, this will protect them against dust to a degree. Make sure to keep the camera and the sand as far away from each other as possible. A well-sealed and durable camera bag can help with this when you’re not actively shooting. Use a lens blower to remove sand from the front glass element of your lens, then clean it with a lens cloth – if you do it the other way around, you’ll scratch your lens.
Creating an exciting composition with your beach photography makes your pictures stand out. The composition is a collection of elements in your image. At the beach, these include the sky, clouds, horizon, waves, sand, pebbles, shells, tall grass, pathways and rock formations – not to mention the additional elements such as people and pets enjoying the beach. Take a moment to scan the scene and look for interesting elements as well as unique shooting angles to build upon your composition. Look for features that create excitement, drama and mood, and experiment with different ways to incorporate these into your beach pictures.
You drive up to the scenic lookout, get out of the car, grab your camera, turn it on, walk up to the barrier, raise the camera to your eye, rotate left and right a little, zoom a little, then take your shot – before getting back in the car and driving to the next scenic lookout. We’ve all done it. However, this process doesn’t generally lead to the “wow” shot that many of us are looking for. Instead, take a little more time with your landscape photos. Find a more interesting point of view. You might start by finding a different spot to shoot from than the scenic lookout. You can also look for new angles; this could mean getting down onto the ground to shoot from below, or heading up high to gain a nice vantage point. Explore the environment and experiment with different viewpoints. You might find something truly unique!
I chatted with a landscape photographer recently who told me that he never shoots during the day. His only shooting times are around dawn and dusk because that’s when the light is best, and that’s when the landscape comes alive. These golden hours, as they’re often called, offer great landscape photography for a number of reasons. For one, you get gorgeous golden light. I also love the angle of the low sun; it creates interesting patterns, dimensions, and textures, all of which can enhance a landscape photo.
A scene can change dramatically depending upon the weather, so choosing the right time to shoot is of major importance. Many beginner photographers see a sunny day and think that it’s the best time to go out with their camera. However, an overcast day that is threatening rain might present you with a much better opportunity – you can create an image with real mood and ominous undertones. Look for storms, wind, mist, dramatic clouds, sun shining through dark skies, rainbows, sunsets and sunrises, etc. And work with these variations in the weather rather than just waiting for the next sunny, blue sky.