Sea-scapes – exposure time considerations

Sea-scapes – exposure time considerations

The potential for good photographs at the seaside is endless. Whether it is rocky, craggy, sandy or pebbles, the capture of the ocean interacting with these elements is challenging and fun.


Long exposure for stronger saturation

Wet sand makes a fantastic reflective surface. This requires patience and a bit of forward thinking. The trick is to wait for a large wave to soak the entire beach and then time your exposure with the receding wave. This was a 11 second exposure and although the wet sand wasn’t reflective for the full 11 seconds, it was reflective long enough to create a strong impression on my sensor.

Calmer seas

black sand beach

A long exposure will calm a raging sea and produce a milky effect. But you might miss the original feeling of the scene. This scene looks quite peaceful but the truth was very different.

Trail mix

Blue Turtles

An exposure between 2 and 4 seconds will produce some lovely trailing lines if you time the shot correctly. This effect was achieved by waiting for a big wave and exposing as the sea retreated.

Part of the trick is to stand and watch how the waves interact with the elements on the beach. Look for prominent stones of interesting tracts in the sand. You might live in an area with beautiful chunk of glacial ice on the beach. Every beach has some potential.

Not always slow!

A faster shutter will freeze the action which communicates the movement in a different way. Freezing action can allow the viewer to study a moment in a chain of events that the naked, human eye would normally miss. Part of the skill of the photographer is judging whether a fast or sow shutter will communicate the movement more effectively.

Colour Jelly

Colour Jelly

This was mid January on a 3 day photo tour. We hit the beach about an hour before sunrise after a comfortable breakfast.

Nacreous Dawn

Nacreous Dawn

Nacreous clouds are difficult to expose. The trick here was under-exposure to make sure I didn’t loose any of the details and colours in the glowing cloud.

January Star

January Star

It was horrible conditions that brought about this beauty. We were sand blasted and windswept on the black sand beach, day 2 of a 3 day tour.

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