Five ways to get creative with beach photography

Five ways to get creative with beach photography

With the official arrival of summer, many of us will be spending more time outdoors, especially at the beach. Below are five ways to help you get creative with your beach photography!

1. Reflections

Adding reflections to your beach photos can give your compositions a boost. Tide pools are one of my favorite places to take reflection photos. You can reflect people, objects or just the sky. Walk around a tide pool and look at it from different angles to see what’s reflected in the water.

If you are on a sandy beach and the tide recedes, wet sand can also reflect the colors in the sky. This is especially nice at sunset and sunrise, when you might have more dynamic tones and colors.

Tide pools make for great reflection images.

2. Long exposures

Long exposures can be a great way to change the composition of a beach scene. Neutral density filters are great for giving you a longer exposure, which can change how the water and sky look in your images. For example, a thirty-second exposure can smooth out the water and give any clouds in the sky a streaky appearance. These images can often look more artistic and painterly. I like to use mine Lee Filters Large stopper for these types of images.

Additionally, if you’re on a beach with waves or moving water, try experimenting with shorter exposures like 1/4s or 1/10s to see what the movement of the waves looks like. I love capturing the waves on a beach as they recede into the ocean, it gives images movement and feeling. Usually these types of photos require a bit of experimentation with the shutter speed to get the desired look of the water. Play around and see what you get!

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3. Camera position

This tip can be applied to many types of photography, but I often use it at the beach. Holding your camera down can dramatically change the perspective of a beach, giving you a more unique composition and more detail in the foreground.

Another place I like to take pictures is in the water. Even without a waterproof case, you can wade into the water and dart back to the beach when your subjects are on land. Or you can hold your camera just above the water while looking at the horizon, so that the water itself is your foreground interest if your subject is a bird, boat, sunset, etc. This tip, of course, comes with the caveat to be careful; always protect your stuff!

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Going low allowed me to use the textures in the sand as foreground interest in this image.

4. Night

Summer means camping and beach fires where I live, so I’m often at the beach in the evenings and at night. This is also a good time to take photos, as long as you have a sturdy tripod. From capturing stars over the water to a cozy beach bonfire with friends, there are plenty of opportunities to take photos at night on the beach. The wide open spaces often lend themselves well to silhouetted environmental portraits, or light painting can be another fun technique to play with on the beach.

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5. Think smaller

Given a beautiful, sweeping beach scene, it’s easy to want to shoot with your wide-angle lens. But beaches offer plenty of opportunity to explore details, textures and patterns. Sand affected by wind and tides can often produce interesting shapes to photograph. Seaweed and driftwood have all kinds of different textures to explore. Look for small wildlife such as crabs and snails, or find a cool shell to use as a subject. Try bringing your macro or nifty-fifty lens and see what you can come up with!

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Snails at sunset.

The next time you’re enjoying the beach, try one of these ideas to spark some creativity. As with any genre of photography, early morning and late evening often provide the best light, especially in the summer months when the light can be extra harsh during the day. Remember to always protect your stuff and have fun out there!