ocean view at sunset


The secrets of taking seascapes

The striking contrast of shore and sea, the shapes the light creates as it bounces off the water, and the dramatic changes in weather conditions make seascapes a particularly popular subject for landscape photographers. Capturing the perfect shot can be a challenge, but take some time to understand timing, positioning and composition and you’ll be rewarded with beautifully creative results.

Light fantastic - The single thing that separates serious landscape photographers from day-trippers with a camera is the appreciation and understanding of light. Choosing the best time of day to take your seascape is hugely important as the light varies by intensity, direction and colour throughout the day.

Perfect timing - There isn't necessarily a "right time" but early morning and late evening during the 'golden hours' and either side of these at 'blue hour' will produce interesting colour.

Weather dependent - Shooting seascapes will invariably be influenced by what is happening in the sky as well as the sea. Weather can add real interest to a seascape shot be it smooth wispy golden clouds or storm ravaged dark foreboding ones. Again, there is no best weather to shoot in but learning to see interesting weather patterns and knowing how to make the best of them photographically is a great skill to learn.

Capturing Movement - Creating a sense of movement to a seascape can add interest to an otherwise average scene. Two key areas to focus on are the, relatively slow moving, sea and sky. Capturing their movement requires a slow shutter speed and a camera support, typically a tripod.

Keeping your ISO low and aperture small (large f/ number) will allow for longer shutter speeds, use a remote shutter for captures over 30 seconds. See how moving clouds and water running up the beach blur into silky smooth wash of colour. Alternatively raise your shutter speed to super-fast speeds to capture the individual droplets of breaking waves.

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Adding interest - Sometimes simply photographing the sea and horizon doesn't make the most engaging image, we as viewers need something that holds our eye to the image and provides a bit of visual interest.

Look around for ways to compose your seascapes that make use of foreground objects. Man-made objects such as beach groins, boats, piers and lighthouses add contrast to the natural environment, whereas natural features such as arches, pillars, rock stacks, pebbles add interest if you wish to focus on natural elements.

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