Beach huts are a popular feature of the British coastline and provide photographers with colourful detail that's often overlooked. While many of us shoot with a wide angle and get the huts dramatically stacked in a row under a broody sky there's an alternative option of moving in close for a more abstract shot.
1. What Gear Do I Need?
You can use more or less any lens for this technique as long as it has a reasonable close focus and that includes any standard kit zoom that comes with your camera. Don't go too wide or you'll get distortion at close range and a lens that's too long may not give you a close enough focus point especially if the huts are arranged in a group rather than line. A lens such as an 18-55mm, sold as a kit lens with many cameras, including the weather-resistant PENTAX K-3, would work fine.
You don't need a tripod as the subject is static and you don't need flash because natural light will do the job. So this is a very gear light technique, although a polarising filter could be handy.
2. What Type Of Things Will I Be Able To Photograph?
Look closer at the detail in the beach huts. In just a small area you'll be able to photograph detail such as padlocks, rope, knots in rope, flaky paint textures, door knobs, roof detail, panels, name signs, patterns in wood, rust and strong contrasting colours. In other beach huts you may find ornaments, flower displays, toys, cobwebbed windows, etc.
3. How Should I Frame My Shots?
The trick is when you spot some detail you like, move in close and spend time framing the photo so the elements balance well. Make use of thirds placing important elements on the third intersections.
Don't be afraid to crop tightly and miss sides or the top of the hut. Sometimes a small panel of flaky paint will make a great texture photo. This could even be used as a blending layer to a photo to give it a grungy feel.
4. Why Do I Need To Use Filters?
Use a polarising filter on paintwork, especially on sunny days and when the paint is glossy. Choose areas with contrasting colours and use them to divide the photo.
5. What Type Of Weather Is Best?
Shooting on a sunny day will give a more contrasty result as hard shadows will appear. This can make a photo of a close up look more 3 dimensional but you do have to be careful with exposure or you will end up with either blown highlights or deep shadows. Overcast days provide an easier option with a more balanced look to the tonal range. It's the safest option, especially if you're a beginner.
Photos by John Gravett
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