Friday, February 6, 2015

Let's Go to the Beach! Beach Photography

Hello all! Are you one for relaxing on the beach while snowstorms bury the northeast? Well, I have the February post for you! Beaches can be excellent venues for nature photography, particularly in the winter. So pack your sunglasses and grab your tripod - we're going to learn how to improve your beach and vacation nature photography.

Beach Photography

Lover's Key - Ft. Myers, FL

Beaches provide unique challenges for the nature photographer, but they can be birding and wildlife hotspots, as well as excellent landscape subjects. So what are some tips for shooting on the beach?

Lighting, Lighting, Lighting

Beaches can be harsh. The lack of other land formations and trees to break up the sunlight means that unflattering, blinding overhead light is often a reality. For shooting at the beach, the time of day becomes even more important for this reason. You will find it difficult to capture any pleasing images if you show up midday (although this is probably the best time to get a tan). Evening and early morning light are really essential for successful beach photography.You will notice the beginnings of the sunset in the picture above. The softening light allows detail to be captured in the shore, while the colors add visual interest to the sky. You can read more about lighting here.

Lover's Key

Of course, the uninterrupted view of the sky makes beaches excellent for photographing unusual clouds and sunsets.

Pay Attention to the Tide

Low tide is the best time to be at the beach. It's when the water is the lowest, shells are exposed, and the most wildlife comes around to see what they can snag. You can find tide charts online - just give it a quick google, and try to plan your trip accordingly.

Ruddy Turnstone, Anastasia State Park
You will find many more shorebirds and waders if you plan your trip around low tide, but you may have to sacrifice lighting quality. Here, you can see the long shadows cast by the harsh lighting. Careful exposure is required to ensure that birds with variegated feather patters, like this turnstone, are not over- or under-exposed. You may want to read about exposure compensation here.

Introduce Landscape Features to Ground Images

Like I discussed in last week's episode, including foreground, midground, and background elements can strengthen compositions. I mentioned that this was especially important for landscape photography, and beach images are no different.

Sand Dunes, Lover's Key
 Here, the sand dunes making up the foreground provide visual interest and guide the viewer's eye back towards the ocean and sky. Turning your lens away from the shoreline itself and back towards scrubland and sand dunes also provides for unusual, often overlooked, beach landscapes.

Pedestrian bridge to Lover's Key beach
 Here, I have chosen to photograph the surrounding habitat rather the beach itself. The bridge provides visual interest in the composition. Evening light is starting to turn the sky purple and pink, and is casting a warmer glow over the vegetation. Paying attention to lighting condition can take a mediocre image into an excellent one.

In short, beaches can be nature photography bonanzas - and you don't even have to stick to the same, tired sunset and shoreline images. So, what do you think? Are you planning a winter beach trip anytime soon? Let me know in the comments.

Check back next Friday for the next installment of...TwoFeetPhoto. Please remember to share, follow, and subscribe via the fancy sidebar options! Here is my tumblr and here I am on bloglovin.

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