The azure blue skies, bright sands and dramatic coastlines of beaches have
long been favorite travel photo subjects. These images often appear in travel
brochures, calendars and posters, and make us long for vacations in exotic locales.
It's easy to capture the beauty of beaches if you keep a few basic concepts
Get The Big Picture
Finding great compositions isn't usually difficult when you're faced
with the beautiful scenery of tropical beaches and rocky coastlines. To take
in a broad view, use the wide angle setting on your compact camera's built-in
zoom lens, or use a wide angle lens if your camera accepts interchangeable lenses.
You'll need one in the 24--35mm range. If you have a point-and-shoot
camera with only a fixed focal length lens, stand back to capture expansive
views. Look through your viewfinder and find compositions that are pleasing
aesthetically. Be sure to avoid extraneous objects and background clutter.
Reader photo by Jamie R. McQuilliams, Seaside, OR
Look for vantage points where the curving line of the shoreline draws the
eye into the scene--perhaps where it leads toward a pleasing arrangements
of rocks offshore or a colorful row of docked sailboats. In places like northern
California or the Caribbean where cliffs overlook the ocean, you may find a
great vantage point from which to shoot down on the beach below. This will open
up vistas that you may not notice from sea level. When shooting such grand vistas,
use your camera's Landscape mode to ensure optimum depth of field.
Zoom In On Details
Many beaches have tide pools where starfish, sea anemone, and other small sea
creatures can easily be viewed and photographed. Move in close or use your camera's
telephoto setting to isolate these fascinating subjects. A moderate telephoto
lens in the 80--100mm range is ideal for photographing these scenes. A
polarizing filter will help you remove surface reflections and see more clearly
into the pools. Attach it to your lens and rotate it to get the desired effect.
If your camera lens won't accommodate filters, then simply hold the polarizer
in front of your lens.
Reader photo by Bill Gemza, Cedar Grove, NJ
The Power Of Nature
Rocky shorelines and pounding surf reveal the power and energy of the sea. The
best time to capture the surf is at high tide. Find a safe place from which
to shoot and rather than try to encompass the entire shore, use a long lens
or your camera's telephoto setting. This way, you can isolate a single
wave as it crashes against a rock formation. You can freeze the action by using
your camera's Action or Sports mode, which will set a fast shutter speed
to freeze the spray. Timing is also critical--you need to click the shutter
button a split-second before the wave makes contact to capture peak action.
Take lots of pictures to increase your chances of getting some successful shots.
Reader photo by Rene Paik, Alameda, CA