Each of the opportunites have similar components, but in a vast variety of arrangements and conditions. Seascapes can be extremely demanding. The variety of weather conditions, and lighting can rapidly change, and offer difficulties in protecting photographic equipment.
Seascapes, like any landscape photograph are often considered best devoid of structures and people, but actually can be enhanced by indiginous buildings and wildlife. Sometimes having people in the shot can enhance it as well, although many would say, including me, that it’s not exactly a seascape at that point.
Many photographers allow themselves to be stymied while attempting to shoot seascapes in the same way that many photographers have problems with cityscapes. They get out of the car, bus or boat and see the view. They don’t look around for an alternate view or walk a few hundred yards or blocks to see a different picture. I’ve found that just by turning around you may find a better point of view. Sometimes it takes coming back at an alternate time when the beach is less crowded or the light is better. Sometimes it takes planning to catch the best light.
With some inventiveness, creativity and imagination you can discover the scene you desire, and capture incredible seascapes.
Here are some specific tips to help you capture that perfect seascape.
- Use the sea’s motion to bring out the best in the seascape — In still photography, when photographing something in motion we generally control the image by choosing an appropriate shutter speed. Sometimes it’s best to “freeze” the motion, and sometimes it’s better to let the motion cause a blur in the photo to expose the motion and movement in the photograph to the viewer's eye.
- Consider going off-shore to take your photo — Take your photo from a boat near the shoreline, or perhaps go out on a pier sticking out well into the water. Sometimes it's reasonable to walk into the water and take a photo from that position.
- Change your angle of the shot — You might try kneeling or lying down on the ground for a low point of view. If there is a cliff nearby, try climbing up on it to view the seascape from up high. I have an acquaintence who’s a hang-glider, and gets incredible photos from that point of view. While that’s a great point of view, I’m personally leaving those shots to him.
- Include a structure in your seascape — The classic structures in seascapes are piers and lighthouses, but including a “grass shack” may be great too. Look for a structure which fits in with the shot you’re trying to create.
- Include wildlife in your seascape — Birds, sea lions and other shore animals, as well as shore flowers and trees all can add interest and a point of view in your seascapes.
- Take into account the weather — Fog and often rain, and in colder climates, snow, are integral to seascapes. Rain and snow often keeps too many photographers away from seascapes even though it adds unique and sometimes wonderful photographic opportunities. Get a good rain cover for your camera and get out in the rain or snow. Cloudy skies can add great drama to a seascape.
- Consider the time of day in your seascape — Just like other landscapes and all outdoor photos, the colors and light at the “Golden Hours” (dawn and dusk) imparted in a photo are special. The angle of the light, etc. may enhance or detract from the seascape, and may or may not produce mirror effects with the water. Moreover, at various times of day the seascape may be crowded or not which can be used successfully by the photographer.
- Use the tides to help get a great photo — While high tide smooths and cleans a beach, low tide can reveal a bounty of interest; shells, seaweed, tires, shoes, etc.
- Practical camera tips include:
- Keep the horizon level and consider using the “Rule of Thirds” to set your horizon in the image. While a purposeful crooked horizon may be playful, it usually indicates a lack of care in composing your image.
- Especially when light conditions are difficult or unusual use your digital camera’s histogram to help you get the exposure right.
- Wide angle lenses are the norm for seascapes. Consider using or carrying a wide angle zoom with you. Zoom lenses give you flexibility when you can’t take your shot from the best distance from the seascape. If you want to bring in distant views bring a telephoto or zoom telephoto lenses.