Photographing Sand Patterns and Seashells

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Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0 | Source

Most photographic projects involve some deal of planing, predetermined schedule, a list of subjects and a general idea of what the theme will consist of and what type of subjects will make for the best images.

Very few will happen while you relax or are on vacation, except when your vacation or down time happens to be near or at a sunny beach.

This theme; sand patterns & seashells can be accomplished while on vacation so long as you are on the beach, or at least live near one.

The project includes recording images of the many patterns that the wind, the surf and even people make across the sand and in combination with several of the many seashells that are usually found in any beach.

The best times are most always in the early morning hours or later in the afternoon when the crowds are not present or have left for the day and the light is diffused by the atmosphere which helps avoid casting strong shadows which can often dull details.

Look for interesting patterns formed along the sand by the footsteps left by beach goers, the ripples formed by the surf rolling onto the shore, the little mounds formed when the sand is picked up and deposited by the wind, even the small imprints left by the many sea creatures and birds that regularly visit the beach in search of their next meal.

Seashells can be photographed by themselves or in groups of similar looking ones or even very different ones. But when they are intermingled with interesting patterns in the sand, the images are that much more appealing.

If you find yourself in a creative mood and are somewhat artistically inclined then you can create your own patterns and designs upon the sand.

Arrange any seashells that you come upon in attractive regular and irregular patterns; you can arrange them in a particular formation or attempt to recreate a naturally occurring formation such as when they are picked up by the waves and gently deposited upon the sandy shore.

If perhaps the particular beach front area that you have chosen to conduct your photo project lacks a good selection of seashells, then don't let that you stop you, instead visit any arts & crafts store where they are sure to have an ample supply of shells which you can then arrange into the sand patterns and thus proceed with your photography.

Be mindful not to use seashells that have unnatural patterns or designs painted upon them, this distracts from the main scene, instead focus on the ones that appear to be the more natural looking ones.

Many of these arts & crafts stores also carry a large selection of crustaceans samples such as sea urchins and starfish maybe even a seahorse or two. There is no shame in using them as many were collected long ago on some distant shore or are regularly "farmed" in specialized locations for just this specific purpose the same way many salmon are farm raised today.

Again, be creative and decide whether you will recreate natural designs or will assist in their placement. A very good source of ideas and inspirations are the many postcards samples that are typically found in any tourist seaside location. Browse through several samples to more or less get a rough idea of what images are popular.

Don't avoid including other suitable subjects such as coconuts, coconut plant leaves, seaweed, twigs and especially attractive are driftwood samples and any sea glass pieces that have been tumbling in the ocean for some time and have become smooth. They have also more than likely turned a frosted shade which adds to their attractiveness.

Their inclusion in any sand photography makes for good photographs which are usually very appealing.

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) | Source

The images of the seashells should be done in close up mode to showcase their distinct shades and coloration as well as patterns and usually smooth textures.

Take some images of sand in close up mode too to try to showcase small patterns in the sand crystals. Do macros if you are able to isolate small individual crystals or very small groupings of crystals along with macros of seashell forms and textures. The details of these macros will be largely based on the amount of magnification and the quality of your macro lens.

Try to also record some shots that incorporate several subjects at once such as sand patterns, seashells, seaweed any crustacean and part of the waves. Pay attention to the location of the Sun so as not to inadvertently create silhouettes.

Some scenes can be created in the studio with very little effort by selecting a suitable container and seashell samples as well as whatever other materials you may want to add and a diffused light source. In the studio you can really get creative and experiment with many sand designs until you find one with which you are satisfied.

There is a companion project which can be done from this theme which is also great for those interested in arts & crafts. It involves making two prints from one shot. One image will be the base and the other will be the one from which you cut out shapes. Place these cut out shapes on top of the other image to completely cover any elements on which you do not want to add sand. Once you have the cut outs in place spray the print with spray adhesive and sprinkle sand on top of it. Once dried, remove the cut outs and you now have an image which features 3-D elements on it.

© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez

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Comments 6 comments

randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

I love this topic! Who doesn't enjoy taking pictures at the beach?


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

randomcreative: This was and still is one of my favorite projects to do and I always do it when on vacation...win win!


Truckstop Sally profile image

Truckstop Sally 5 years ago

Beautiful hub - pictures and pointers. Thanks!


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

Truckstop Sally; Thank you


2uesday profile image

2uesday 5 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

I agree the seashore can be a beautiful place to take photos. The light,textures and patterns are interesting to take. Patterns in the sand left by the tide can be amazing. Thanks.


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

2uesday:Thank you, the sea has always brought me inspiration

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