The sea has been a favourite subject for photographers since the very beginning. Whether you’re capturing the action of the waves or the silky motion of the water, the sea is a great subject that gives a certain mood and drama to your image. When photographing nature and the outdoors, you usually have minimal control over the elements. However, for seascape photography, you can in fact control the appearance of the waves in your shots. It is also important to be observant and patient, as waiting for the right moment can usually yield great results.
When photographing seascapes, always remember that the coast can be very turbulent at times, so you must be aware of your surroundings. Ensure that your equipment is well protected from salt water, sand, and the weather. Use a filter to cover your lens. This helps ensure that the lens does not get scratched by the sand. Before you venture out onto the coastline, research tidal movements or the tidal range of the sea, as the changes in tide can affect water movement and the swell. Be sure to check the weather forecast and be careful not to get caught in stormy or windy conditions. If you are shooting after dark, bring along a headlamp or flashlight to find your way back to the road.
Having good composition can make or break a photograph. Like landscape photography, including interesting foreground elements such as rocks, a dock, or even reflections can help create contrast.
Don’t be afraid to get your feet wet or dirty. Sometimes shooting from a different vantage point or from a different angle can help tell a more compelling story. To capture the most out of your scene, it is recommended to use a wide-angle lens such as the AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G ED or AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED. A wide focal length can help convey a sense of grandiosity and magnificence.
There are many ways to capture the sea. By using different shutter speeds, you will be able to change the water texture in your shots. For example, using a fast shutter speed such as 1/500s will freeze the action and capture the power of the sea. To convey a sense of motion, use a slow shutter speed such as 1/2s to capture the movement of the water. Using shutter speeds of 1 second or longer will let you achieve a milky or foggy effect. This helps to create a sense of calmness and serenity in your image.
When shooting the coastline, you will want to have everything in focus. Using an aperture of f/8 or smaller will help keep both your foreground and background in focus.
Whether you’re photographing the seascape using long shutter speeds or when the sun has set, it is recommended to always mount your camera on a tripod. Sharpness is key, and a tripod can help add stability and reduce the chances of a blurred shot. If you set your tripod on the shoreline, be sure to set it firmly on the ground, as the incoming waves can cause it to move or fall. Once you have captured your shot, always be sure to check that there is no unintentional blur.
While filters can help protect the front element of your lens, it can also improve the image quality of your shots. For landscape and seascape photography, the two most common types of filters used are Graduated Neutral Density (GND) and Neutral Density (ND) filters. GND filters are typically used in high contrast situations, such as when the sky is much brighter than the foreground. It helps to correct the difference in the light for a balanced exposure. ND filters can reduce the amount of light entering the camera, which allows you to set a longer exposure time. It also lets you use larger apertures for a shallower depth of field.
There is no one way to capture seascapes. Experiment with your composition, settings, and simply let the moment come to you.