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Photographing Sand Sculptures

Updated on January 28, 2014
Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) | Source

Sand sculptures are a popular and innovative way for talented artists to showcase their talents. Basically any place where there are beaches affords someone the opportunity to entertain the idea of making sand creations. Often these can be extremely elaborate, creative and beautiful at the same time. Photographing these can make for a worthy photographic project.

You should first research the topic and locate these events since they do not happen all of the time and not in every location. Although people do build these sculptures most everywhere you should strive to locate events that draw the best of these artists and concentrate on recording images of the best that they have to offer.

If interested in seeing works by some of the world's most talented sand sculpture artists, the following link gives you information about the top sand sculptures contest held in the United States. Top 10 Sand-Castle Contest.

Because you will be photographing where their is sand, probably salt water and most likely wind, you should prepare to take care of your gear to keep it form getting sand and saltwater on the inner workings. Wrapping the camera set up with a plastic bag and removing juts to take the shots is a good way.

Also having some clean and lint free cotton rags to wipe any moisture form the lens or camera will help keep it safe. after you get home it is always a good idea to open the interior and use a pressurized air canister to fully dry its interior.

Do most of your photography during the day but do so during the early hours or late hours of the day. These times are best since the available ambient light is softer. Most of the artists who do this type of work usually start working on their sculptures early and depending on the elaboration and intricacies associated with each piece of work, it may take them several hours to most of the day to complete. So the late afternoon is probably the best time.

Try to record as many images as possible during the first day since these works will not last long as the elements slowly wear them down. However, they should last for at least a couple of days.

You should not need to use a flash unit unless you take shots during dusk and if so place a diffuser,which can be as simple as a cotton handkerchief, in front of the flash to make the light softer and avoid the creation of harsh shadows. A regular lens is probably all that you will need, but I have found that using a small zoom works if I want to crop on the spot.

Also do closeups that focus on small details and textures, regular shots and long ones. You should also include parts of the environment to give the viewer a sense of location. Wide angle lenses do allow you the opportunity of getting a lot of scenery but they often fail to record much detail. I suggest that you use wide angle lens sparingly.

You can do two variations on the theme; you can either concentrate on one style like only mythical or fantasy creations, comic book characters and so on or you can record images that vary widely in their artistic portrayals.

Most of your images will reflect the color of sand, so if you want to add color include parts of the sky by using a low angle. There are also some filters called gradients which impart a color hue to the scene and these may come in handy.

Graduated NDs, or simply "grads", are clear on the bottom and slightly opaque on the top, with either an abrupt or a gradual shift in the middle. They are used to darken the brighter part of a scene so that it falls within the dynamic range of the camera.

They are best used if you want to make the blue sky "bluer" for example, but you must be conscious as to what element of the scene you include or you may end up making half the sculpture darker than the rest.

This work has been released into the public domain by its author
This work has been released into the public domain by its author | Source
CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

© 2013 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Kim Grbac Diaz: Thank you

    • Kim Grbac Diaz profile image

      Kim Diaz 

      5 years ago from Upstate, New York there no end to your God-given talent and human eye??? Do you have a studio selling these wonderful treasures? Breathtaking!


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