Getting Beached

TidalDance2854-2, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Since this is a long weekend, and virtually the start of summer, I realize many of you will be headed to the beach.

The beach, the shore, the ocean…few things have provided as much artistic inspiration as these. Over the years, the beach has been painted, drawn, photographed, and whatever else your heart can think of doing to it, time and time again. Countless artists have been inspired by this subject-many who have come before you and many still yet to be discovered.

So, how to shoot the beach?

There are almost as many ways to shoot the beach as there are photographers who do it. Instead of telling you specifics, I thought I might provide a few pointers.

Generally, people expect the water to be blue. You can play into that expectation or play against it-your call. I love seeing work where the water turns orange, for example, where the colors have been processed so much that the beach appears an unnatural color. While not what you might typically expect, this will give you “different” results and, as you probably could have guessed, sometimes different is better.

I look for a shoreline or point on the water’s edge where there is something interesting, something to ground the composition. Something like some rocks, a curve in the water, or some such thing-otherwise you are going to be dealing with straight lines. Moving slightly can give you interesting shapes so try stepping a bit to your left and right when composing to see what you get.

There are really no rules to shooting the beach so don’t be afraid of breaking them. You can go crisp, you can go completely out-of-focus, you can go somewhere in between. People in the picture? No problem, that works too-portraits along the beach are fun? No people? No probably there either-seascape images can really work too-just play with what you have.

The lighting can be tricky at the water, since the light can sometimes bounce off and create flares. Here again, if you want to play with lens flare the beach can be your best friend but, if you’re not expecting it, be careful and be on the lookout for it.

A lot of times I get my inspiration from old paintings done at the beach. Monet did some wonderful beach pieces and so I know I can look back to those for some inspiration.

The beach is a wonderful subject. It can be a complex artistic metaphor or a simple line in the sand (literally!) so enjoy it while you can.

Have a great long weekend and I hope you get out to explore and find some photographic inspiration at the shore sometime this season.

Until next time…


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