SEA DIFFERENTLY

  Heading to the coast with your camera this summer? Use these tips and techniques from Mark Hamblin to get creative with water shots. With approximately12,500km (7,800 miles) of coastline around the UK, there is no shortage of inspiration to draw from when it comes to photographing coastal landscapes. As islanders, we Brits have always enjoyed a close affinity with the sea, but no matter where in the world you live, the ocean can provide masses of photographic inspiration. When it comes to photographing the coast, water almost always plays a key role, whether as the main subject or more often as the link that brings the various elements of the picture together. Learning howto capture moving water within a seascape is an important skill that will help you get the most from your images.  SEA DIFFERENTLYThere is a real energy about moving water that adds another dimension to your images, and the way you choose to capture it has a major effect on the emotional response they evoke. The look or feel of the water within the picture is determined almost entirely by your choice of shutter speed. A slow shutter speed will cause moving water to be rendered as a blur and create a milky dreamlike effect, while a fast shutter speed can be used to  freeze  the water and record waves in sharp focus. WHICH APPROACH? There are no hard and fast rules here, and it will often come down to the prevailing weather conditions, the light and personal preference. Some people love the milky effect, others hate it, so go with what inspires you and seek out seascapes and conditions that lend themselves to your preferred treatment. As we are lucky enough to live in the age of the internet, you should be able to find tons of information online about weather conditions and tide times in your locality. It s important to check these out for safety reasons too, because no coastal photograph is worth risking your life for - or at the very least your expensive photographic equipment. If you like to shoot a variety of images using different styles, the deciding factor will often be light. There s no point in trying to freeze breaking waves in low light, for example. Similarly, in bright midday sunshine it may be impossible to achieve the long exposures necessary to create a pleasing blurred effect. The key skill here is an understanding of what shutter speed to set to achieve the desired effect. How slow is slow and how fast is fast? Well, this depends on how quickly the water is moving, how close you are to it and to a degree on the lens you are using. But as a general rule you ll need a shutter speed of 1 sec or slower to produce an effective milky effect (see this issue s free Shutter Speed Cheat Sheet). By contrast, to freeze the movementina breaking wave, you should aim fori/1000 sec or faster. Shutter speeds between these values can produce great results too, so experiment during the shoot and keep referring to your LCD display to get a feel for what s working best. As always, don t be afraid to get out there and learn from your mistakes!

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