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Make More Dramatic Beach photography

Updated on August 12, 2016
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years.

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All of us probably love taking pictures on the beach. Whether they are sunsets, the rising sun of people frolicking on the water they do make for some very nice shots.

If you want to make the same shots even more dramatic there are a few simple techniques that will do just that; add a more dramatic view of the scene.

The main thing to remember is that photography is dependent on light and most lighting situations are great for activity but not for photography.

  • Take your shots during the golden hour which is about an hour to half an hour right before sunset.

When the Sun is low on the horizon the light is diffused and this helps you eliminate harsh shadows, especially if you are faced with a bright blue sky.

  • If you must take you pictures during the middle of the day then wait for some overcast skies as the clouds have the same effect of diffusing the light and making softer.

Here the colors might be a bit muted but at least you don not get that sharp contrast and harsh shadows that a bright light situation can render.

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  • Try to use a graduated density filter which acts like a pair of sunglasses for the camera. It is darker at the top and this darkness is reduced as you go down the filter. It tends to eliminate bright spots from the sky and lets you achieve a more balanced shot.

Without it you may end up with overly bright foreground elements like the sand, rocks,trees and so on. Keep in mind that the camera's sensors are not equal to the capabilities of the human eye.

  • Add foreground elements into the scene whenever you can. These give a better perspective to the shot, they add interest and can be used to lead the eye to the main focusing point.

Good sources are driftwood, rocks and pebbles, the sand itself, a plant or flower, a lime of seabirds, ripples and so on.

  • With that said it is a good idea to try using a low angle. In other words lay on you stomach while snapping the shot.

Shots taken at standing position are what most of us do but they often lack interest and the dramatic feel. You mainly end up with a photo that looks like what you imagined when you first came onto the scene but it's just another shot that looks like the rest.

  • Use these foreground elements and low angle to lead the view. They are a road that guides the viewer to where you want them to stop in the scene.


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  • Try making a sunburst. Focus on the Sun but use a very small aperture like f-22. Also if you can try to hide part of the Sun behind a rock, building or tree.

If your scenery features a strong subject with a strong line, form or shape, then consider using it to make a silhouette.

  • For silhouettes set the meter for the Sun and the rest of the scenery will go almost black.
  • Using a very fast film like ASA/ISO 1000 or setting the digital meter for an equivalent high speed will yield subtler "blacks" that will retain some of their original coloration.

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Whenever you take a little trip to the beach and want to take some nice pictures keep these tips in mind and think outside the box.

  • Don't settle for just taking pictures that seem like everyone else's.
  • Try new things, new angles, new perspectives and see the scenery like photographer would.
  • Everything found on a beach like everything found anywhere else is a potential subject.
  • The trick is to capture it in a manner that makes it look attractive and pleasing to the eye.

You are creating an art piece but instead of paints, brushes, pencils or canvas, your tools are your brain and you gear.

Don't forget that inclement weather can often provide you with strong dramatic elements. Take advantage of changes on the weather and snap some pictures.

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What's your favorite beach scenery?

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© 2016 Luis E Gonzalez

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