With most families gearing up to the school holidays, and probably a beach resort vacation, I thoughtit might be timely to give a couple of basic tips about taking still photographs on the beach.
Whether you have a digital SLR with all the gizmos and extras, or a simple pocket digital point and shoot camera, it doesn’t take much time or effort to transform a holiday “snap” into something that will stand the test of time, and be a mini work of art and composition that will delight you and your friends, long after the holiday tan has faded.
Think about looking at other people’s photographs of their beach holiday. It’s likely to be yawnerama, as endless people stare blankly at the camera against a backdrop of sea, sand, sun, and several hundred other people.It’s so clichéd and common, that I am really surprised and delighted when I see someone’s holiday pictures where they have done something unusual- even if it’s by mistake!
While standing there on the edge of the shore, looking out to a beautiful blue sea, with warm sun, the sand between your toes, and the sounds all around, may be great… none of that is going to be captured in a still photograph. A photo without a focal point is, frankly, boring. The distant horizon, the bit ‘twixt sky and sea, is not a focal point. Unless there’s a really spectacular setting sun against some interesting cloud formations, it’s dull dull dull!
So, when taking a shot look on the beach, look for a point of interest or focal point that will give those looking at your photo a place for their eye to rest. Perhaps it is a pattern in the sand, a set of footprints, some seaweed, the crashing of waves over a rock, a crab, part of a pieretc. Also look for the little things that tell the story of going to the beach like shoes at the sea’s edge, sand castles, sunglasses, sunscreen lotion, even an upended ice cream on then steps to the beach hut! Unusual or odd is good when it comes to beach holiday pictures.
The second point is that the start and the end of the day can usually present the best opportunities for shooting interesting pictures at the beach. Apart from there being less extraneous jetsam in the form of other holidaymakers (!), you may see opportunities for unusual shots. It could be the grizzled old man with a roll-up sticking out of his mouth setting up or taking down beach umbrellas, or perhaps some unusual bird-life pecking away at yesterday’s beach fare. In addition, the other advantage is that you will have more interesting light colouring, and some shadows. Noon-day sun beating directly down on a scene makes for lifeless 2D images.