Monday, March 23, 2009

Guide to Coastal Photography

South West Kerry is blessed with an abundance of rugged coastline and beautiful beaches and guess what - it is not spoiled by masses of high-rise buildings or sunbathing people.
The clean air and ever changing sky with sun shafts highlighting parts of the scenery is any photographer`s heaven because it gives you so much to take in.

Any time of the year provides a rich variety of subjects, the only disadvantage of winter month - having less day light hours. As a matter of fact a lot of my landscape and coastal images were taken in winter, I think, the light is even more dramatic because the sun is lower than during the rest of the year.

So what do you have to think about before setting out?

  • Check the weather, sunrise/ sunset time & location and the tide tables.

  • Take a tripod or monopod and a cable release, which, like the self-timer function on your camera, enables you to take pictures hands-free to reduce camera shake.

  • Have some place in mind before you leave the house it is best to concentrate on one thing at a time.

  • Have you packed the right lenses, filters, a spare set of batteries and is there enough capacity on your memory card?

At the location

  • Use foreground interest for strong composition, apply the rule of thirds for pleasing composition or use lines going into the picture.

  • Boats or fishing gear add colour and character to coastal landscapes.

  • Low tide is a good time to capture exposed rocks , patterns in the sand or light reflections in pools of water.

  • Use neutral density filter if the sky is extremely bright.

  • Be careful with a straight flat horizon, use a gridded screen or a small spirit level to get the horizontal line straight or crop later on the computer.

  • In low light situations use long shutter speed of a good few seconds to blur wave movement, also use small aperture and low ISO to create a really smooth effect.

  • For panorama images take several shots while keeping the camera at the same height and turning at the waist. Stitch in an imaging software later.

  • On a dull an overcast day don´t despair, instead of doing grand landscape shots look for some abstract details like rocks, rock pools, sand pattern and so on. If there is a harbour nearby go for boat or building structures or nets and lobster pots, there is plenty of material out there.