Sunday, December 16, 2012

Beach Photo Tips

Yesterday my family traveled the beach in support of a surprise engagement I was to shoot. While I was in my position on the beach, I was told to look inconspicuous and just snap pictures. It was an easy instruction to follow since I love taking nature pictures. And we rarely get to the beach so it was nice to be on the water's edge, feel the breeze and listen to ocean sounds.

These were some pictures I snapped moments before the couple passed my "mark" and began snapping his engagement. Those are to come. Some of the best pictures I have taken, can't wait to share!

Some beach photo tips:

I don't photograph the ocean nearly as much as I would love to. There's so much to work with. Before we arrived, I researched some tips to snap sunsets, especially since the beach is almost always overcast. I wanted to use those disadvantages to my advantage.

1. Set a custom white balance. I set mine to Kelvin 3600. The tip I read was anywhere from 3000-4000 Kelvin. Setting at this number helped bring out the natural highlights, without losing any cloud detail. It also cast a blueish hue which was perfect for what I needed.

2. Use an off board flash so you can underexpose the photo to capture more cloud and water detail. Using an off board flash illuminates the subject while still being able to keep the integrity of the background with that higher shutter speed.

3. Use a higher f/stop. I typically use a very low f/stop for portraits to blur the backgrounds behind my subject and soften their features.
However, the beach is a beautiful setting and blurring it would have taken away from the setting they wanted in their photos--they went there for a reason. I set mine to f/ that I could still get the detail in the ocean and sand, but not too high because I didn't want to lose the speed in my shutterspeed. (Higher f/stop means slower capture...lower f/stop means faster capture.)

4. Be mindful of the Rule of Thirds. When I take portraits many times I just want them to look their best and almost always center them in a photo..or slightly off. But for the beach, that background needed to be present and so the Rule of Thirds was even more important.

5. Shoot at the Golden Hour. Shooting at midday with the beach won't pull out amazing shots. The sunset casts the right shadows and makes things interesting. It is great for back lighting your subject and casts the most beautiful glow.

6. One mistake I am so conscious of not making is making sure the horizon is straight in my photos. Granted that can be fixed in post processing...but these tips are to help cut down post processing and get it right in camera.  The horizon shouldn't cut your photo in half; it should be in the lower part of the photo with more water/land showing than sky or less water/land showing more sky.

7.  Finally, find details to capture that make a photo interesting. Beach shots are beautiful on their own, but something added is great too. In my engagement shoot, there were many times seagulls flew over...I used them in the shot to add that extra element of interest. The photo above with the parasailer  is an example of interest. Without him, the photo is still beautiful...but he adds something more.

I hope this helps the next time your at the beach snapping photos. Play with your camera and get out of auto mode. Your photos will thank you:)


  1. HI there!!! I came across your blog and love it:) HAPPY HOLIDAYS to you!! I have become your newest follower!!! I'm Hanna and you can find me anytime at

  2. Hey, new follower from the GFC blog hop. Gorgeous photos! I love taking pictures and can't wait to read more of your blog and learn some new things. :)


  3. Great tips! Can't wait to see the engagement pics! :)


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