With the arrival of summer now is the ideal time to consider how to get the best results from the photographs we take when spending a day out under the sun. These tips for beach photography will help you capture stunning images that tell a story.
Selecting the right time to shoot
The best light for photography is early morning and late evening. This is especially true when shooting at the beach during summer. The intensity of bright daylight when the sun is high can make your photography more tricky. If you plan on spending the day at the beach, prepare to arrive early or depart late. Shooting when the sun is setting, for example, will provide a colourful, vibrant sky and the water will look calmer. If this is not an option, consider using a sunset filter which will simulate the colour and light of sunset, at any time of day.
If your subject is standing in front of a very bright light source, such as the sun, it may create a silhouette. The sun can also cast harsh or undesired shadows due to the natural light coming from one direction. If you do not intend to produce this kind of image make sure to use your in-camera or external flash as a fill-in flash to counteract/ fill in any shadows, even-out the lighting on the subject and even out the colours in the image. A reflector would be extremely useful here but if you have forgotten to bring it with you, use a white towel as a make-shift reflector. Consider using a wireless flash trigger, giving you greater control and mobility when using flash.
Choosing a location and your subjects
Not all beaches are created equal. Every beach has water and sand, but some offer much more than this. Try to find a beach that has features such as colourful plants, a pier, sand dunes or interesting rock formations and cliff faces, as these can add colour, texture and provide you more to work with when composing your images. With a plethora of subjects to focus on, capture sweeping landscapes, local wildlife and family portraits. When capturing animals such as birds, use a standard zoom or telephoto lens to avoid disturbing the animal, and use a tripod to avoid hand-shake when shooting with these longer lenses.
Capturing action shots
Whether it’s a family playing beach cricket or children playing a game of tag you may want to capture that sense of fun and enjoyment. Try switching the camera to continuous or burst shooting so you don’t miss the moment. Zoom in as desired and press the shutter half way to set continuous focusing. Alternatively, increase your shutter speed to at least 1/500th of a second so you can effectively freeze any movement. Try getting your group of friends or family to jump in the air at the same time, and capture them in flight.