Seascape photography is a form of landscape photography where the landscape includes the sea and its surroundings. Landscape and seascape photography both employ similar exposure techniques, but with seascape photography, much of the emphasis is on the water.
Seascape photography may seem like a homogenous kind of photography, but seascape photographs are wonderfully diverse with varying types of seascape photography images. Some seascape photos are blissful with still waters, others can look moody and dramatic, with powerful, crashing waves, and there are even inspiring seascape photos. The sea is an endlessly mesmerising subject, partly because it is never still, which makes seascape photography so engaging for photographers.
If you need some seascape photography ideas, we have compiled our top 10 tips for powerful seascape photography.
1. Safety first
Safety first is essential advice when shooting seascape photography. Although beautiful, the sea is powerful and can be dangerous for photographers. To ensure your safety, before going to shoot, you should check the swell and tide of the sea so you know whether the sea is going to retreat. This information is crucial for your safety to prevent you from getting stuck in the middle of the roaring waves, or trapped under a cliff.
You should also wear some boots with good grip as the environment by the sea is very slippery and you could fall. You should also avoid going near the crashing waves as they can easily knock you down and pull you into the sea.
You should also have a plan for an exit if the sea conditions become too rough, or if rogue waves take you by surprise.
2. Weather-proof your gear
You should weather-proof your gear for seascape photography because it’s likely that everything is going to get wet. You can buy weather-sealed cameras which will survive the sea-spray. Even if you do have a weather-sealed camera, you should clean the body after shooting to prevent damage from the saltwater.
If you’re using a camera you already have you should cover your camera with a waterproof camera cover to protect it from the elements. You should also carry several microfiber cloths to wipe down your camera lens and filter, as water droplets will compromise your image.
It is tricky when it comes to tripods, as almost all of them will deteriorate when coming into contact with saltwater – even the more expensive ones. If your tripod gets wet from the sea, wash it with fresh water afterwards.
If you are planning to make seascapes a regular subject of your photographs, then consider getting a tripod just for the sea; this keeps your best one at home and dry!
3. Shoot in Manual Mode
You should shoot in Manual Mode for more creative control over your photography. All of the best seascape photography examples are shot in Manual Mode. To capture the beauty of the seascape and all of its details, try this, as you can expose your images to the perfect degree. You should also shoot in RAW to preserve all of the image data; JPEG will compress the file, losing some of the data and making the image harder to edit
4. Try a Neutral Density Filter
A Neutral Density (ND) filter can be fun to play around with when photographing water. An ND filter filters wavelengths of light equally from entering the camera, in measured amounts, which has the effect of reducing depth of field when the light is bright, and it also blurs the motion of water. When the waves are moving, you can create some unique photographs when using an ND filter.
5. Try long exposure photography
Using long exposures can be an interesting experiment for seascape photography. Long exposure photography is when you increase your shutter speed to expose the sensor to light for longer. 10-15 seconds would be sufficient in the case of seascape photography. The effects of long exposure on seascape photography would be cloud trails and silky, ethereal stretches of sea. Long exposure tends to look better when the sea is calm, as opposed to when the waves are crashing.
6. Keep your aperture closed
Keeping a closed aperture is recommended for seascape photography. Comparable to other forms of landscape photography, you want to achieve a larger depth of field to keep the subjects of the photo sharp and precise, with both the foreground and background in focus.
7. Keep your ISO low
With seascape photography, you want your seascape to be presented as clearly as possible with minimal noise in your photo. Provided you are shooting in good light conditions, you should keep your ISO fairly low to reduce noise. An ISO value of 100 should be suitable.
8. Shutter speed
Shutter speed varies depending on what kind of shot you are trying to create. To freeze the motion of the sea, you need a fast exposure, such as 1/100 sec. For some movement in the image, but a short exposure, you can try 1/5 sec. This is a general guideline, but you can adapt to the speed of the waves.
9. Experiment with the times of day
There is no optimal time of day for seascape photography; the time you shoot at is a matter of taste. Of course, there are practical considerations such as when the tide is high, but other than that, you can create interesting seascape photos at all times.
Golden hour will produce very pleasing photos with soft lighting and golden hues. When the sun is high in the sky, the sea will look amazing, due to its vivid colour at this time of day. When the sun is directly overhead and the lighting is harsh, the sea and beach will look immaculate as the sun eradicates shadows and improves the colour and lighting of both the sea and shore. Blue hour will make your images look serene and peaceful. Even shooting at night can make wonderful photos; especially if stars are visible.
10. Use the sea to improve your composition
Including waves in your seascape photograph is the perfect way to effortlessly improve the composition, as it introduces leading lines and movement into your image. The sea should be your main subject, but an interesting foreground is also important for the composition of your image. Consider whether there are any interesting rocks, cliffs, or plants which will help to frame the image.
We hope you found our tips for seascape photography useful!
If you require a seascape photographer, book with Splento. At Splento, we provide you with reliable, professional, on-demand photographers at an affordable rate. Contact us today to speak with a member of the Splento team about your photography needs.