Seascape photography can be both incredibly rewarding and incredibly frustrating at the same time. The entire process of photographing seascapes is slightly different than regular landscape photography and there are a few extra factors you need to keep in mind.
Coming from inland Norway it wasn’t until I moved to Northern Spain that I really got a taste of photographing seascapes. It took a while for me to adapt and feel comfortable with waves crashing around me (I know those who come from coastal towns might be laughing now!) However, after living along that coast for nearly a year, and revisiting several times since, I’ve picked up several tips and tricks that can make a huge difference in your seascape photography.
1. Know the Tides
Understanding how the tides will impact the location you’re photographing is most likely the most important factor of capturing beautiful seascapes.
I remember the first time I visited Playa de Barrika, a stunning beach outside of Bilbao in Spain, I didn’t take one single image. It was a warm and beautiful day but the beach looked nothing like what I had expected. In fact, there wasn’t much of a beach at all. Since the tide was high, the waves went almost up to the cliffs, leaving only a thin strip of beach left. In my defence, the main purpose of this trip wasn’t photography but I had hoped to at least see what all the fuss about this place was about.
2. Accessories for Seascape Photography
We can’t avoid talking a little about accessories, can we?
Quite honestly, the accessories I recommend for seascape photography is more or less the same as the ones I recommend for landscape photography in general. The requirements are pretty similar even though the conditions by the coast might require a heavier use of cleaning products!
3. Choosing the Perspective
The perspective often plays a great role in an image’s composition regardless of what you’re photographing. But when working with seascapes and the water’s motion, I’ve found it to be even more impactful.
Changing from a high to low perspective can make a great difference to the image, especially the depth. When photographing with a low perspective you’ll get the sensation that the waves are actually surrounding you. In addition, you can benefit from the leading lines that the waves create, which also will greatly benefit your composition.
4. Choosing the Right Shutter Speed
The last factor you should keep in mind when photographing seascapes is the choice of shutter speed. Since I first began photographing with filters I’ve been fascinated by how great an impact a slight adjustment can have.