Summer has finally landed here in the UK (we hope we've not spoken too soon) and that means many will be heading for the beach. If your camera will be packed along with the buckets, spades and sun block, take a look at these 5 tips so your shots of the beach look as good as the real thing.
1. Switch From Auto Mode
When shooting with Auto you may find your beach scenes look a little darker than you expected and that's because your camera is seeing the light coloured sand and is confusing it for a scene that's bright. As a result, it's adjusting the exposure accordingly and the sand appears dark when you preview the image.
Do make sure other areas of the shot aren't overexposed when you make your adjustment. Some camera models allow you to check for under- / over-exposed parts of the image on the display (these generally appear as coloured blinking areas). You can also use the built-in histogram to see if any peaks are to the far ends of the graph.
If you can manually control the exposure use exposure compensation and set a + figure as this should give you an image that's more true to life. You can also use the Beach and Snow setting and the camera will automatically make adjustments.
2. Send A Digital 'Postcards'
Postcards are great but they can take forever to reach their recipient, plus they're not all that personal. Instead, why not make use of technology and send snaps of your trip straight to friends and family instead? Many compacts now have built-in WI-FI capabilities so users can either send photos straight to their smart phones which can then be shared with family and friends or some brands allow you to download apps to your camera so you can link directly to Facebook etc. to share your images with the world at the touch of a button. For those with compacts that don't have WI-FI built in you can purchase an EyeFi card which will quickly and reliably transfer your pro images to your computer, smartphone or tablet devices. Many cameras, including several Pentax and Ricoh models, are now compatible with EyeFi cards and you can check to see if your camera will work with one with the camera compatibility tool found on the EyeFi website.
3. Use Beach & Sea Ready Cameras
Many cameras are now designed with coastal locations in-mind. Some compacts, such as the Ricoh WG-4 GPS, are water-, shock-, crush- and cold-proof. Having said that, it's still worth giving your equipment a wipe down after a day of photography on the beach to remove any salt residue present. By using a 'tough' camera you'll be able to capture a few holiday / beach shots for the album that have a slightly different angle. Try capturing underwater shots or how about a half-and-half image that shows what's both under and above the waves?
4. Boost Colours Of Sunsets & Sunrises
Depending on your location you may have the chance to capture a sunrise or sunset. These subjects are techniques all of their own but we will say that a quick way to give your shots more impact is by adjusting the white balance setting on your camera. Try the cloudy setting if you want colours to be more vibrant while compact users can put the sunset mode to the test.
5. Go For A Different Angle
Busy shots of sand-castle building action and donkey rides are great for the family album but for something a little different, why not have a go at macro photography or shoot some abstracts? If you don't have a small tripod or bean bag, use your camera bag or even a rolled up towel for support and get down in the sand to capture the best angles. Zoom in close and use the built-in macro mode (usually a flower symbol) so the camera knows you want to use a wide aperture to throw backgrounds out of focus. Back on your feet, walk to the water's edge and instead of shooting out to sea, turn around and shoot what's behind you. People can often forget to do this when they get sucked in by the view that's out to sea and in front of them.
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