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5 Tips To Improve Your Coastal Landscapes

5 Tips To Improve Your Coastal Landscapes - Heading to the coast and taking your camera with you? Make sure you read these tips before you leave.

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Category : Landscape and Travel
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Cornwall lighthouse
Photo by David Clapp.


  • Wide angle lens
  • Tripod
  • Lens cloth


1. Foreground interest

There's nothing wrong with a photo of an empty beach stretching out for what seems to be miles but by adding some foreground interest you'll give your image more depth, help guide the eye through the shot and keep people interested in your photo for longer. A low angle and a wide angle lens will help exaggerate the perspective of the shot and anything from rocks and wood that's washed up after a storm to jetties, lobster pots and patterns in the sand can be used to add interest the foreground of your shot. Just remember you'll need a smaller aperture to get everything from the front to the back of the shot in focus. This could increase the exposure time, particularly if you're shooting during the 'golden hours' so make sure you pack a tripod to stop shake spoiling the shot.

2. Long exposures

As we've covered shooting long exposure landscapes at the coast previously you'll find more tips here: Long exposures. But here are a few essential pieces of advice you should learn before venturing to the beach:
  • You need a strong, sturdy tripod and you must make sure it's not going to topple over if a wave circles it. Try pushing the legs into the sand slightly to anchor its position. Just remember to wash the feet when you get home to get rid of the sand and salt.
  • If it's a particularly bright day you'll need an ND filter to reduce the amount of light reaching the camera's sensor.
  • Use a low ISO and a small aperture.
  • Shoot later in the evening and capture the movement of the stars as trails.
  • A blur sky dotted with clouds will give you the chance to create patterns as the longer exposures causes the cloud's movement to stretch across the sky.

For more tips on low light work at the coast take a look at this article: Moonlight Photography

3. Reflections

Reflections can be used as foreground interest to add more depth to a scene. They'll also help brighten your foreground, making the overall shot more evenly lit. Look for puddles left by the receding tide or try using the water sat in rock pools to capture reflections of a cloud-dotted or sunset sky.

4. Horizons

You don't want it to look like the sea and sand's about to slide out of shot so make sure the horizon's straight and don't put it in the centre of the frame. If the sky's more interesting move the horizon down but if there's more interest in the foreground lose some of the sky and move the horizon up. If you are going to deliberately slope the horizon make sure you make it obvious otherwise it'll just look like you've not looked through the viewfinder to check if the horizon's level or not.

5. Sun, rain and fog

Everything from blue skies dotted with white clouds to brewing storm clouds can work well at the cost you just have to be out at the right time of day with the right gear.

Take a look at these articles for more advice:

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