When the sun's out us Brits pack the car up with buckets, spades, the dog and family members and head to the beach. But as well as eating ice cream and playing the odd game of cricket or rounders take some time out to take a few beach photos. It doesn't even have to be a gloriously sunny day for photography either as waves crashing against the sea wall will look just as good as a family snap on the front.
You won't need a huge bag full of your fancy gear - you'll have enough to carry with all of the cool boxes and beach gear anyway! Your interchangeable lens camera and a zoom lens are fine or even a point-and-shoot camera will be enough if you're really lacking on space. Make space in your bag for a hotshoe flash for when the sun begins to set and if you're worried about salt water or sand getting into your camera put it in waterproof housing or if you're using a point-and-shoot make it a waterproof one. Pack a blower to gently remove grains of sand that will land on your lens and have a microfibre cloth ready to wipe away sea spray.
It's most likely that your number one subject at the beach will be your family but you don't always have to take shots of them grinning like Cheshire cats at you. Candids of them resting, playing in the sand, swimming or eating ice cream will work just as well, if not better than a posed, family portrait.
Make sure you pay attention to where the sun is. It may work well for the sun to be behind you but this will only make your subject squint. Instead, move your subject into the shade of a brolly or have the sun behind them and use flash to fill in the shadows. Also, if you can, avoid taking photos at midday as the light's harsh and causes long shadows.
Keep away from distracting backgrounds and make sure you take a good look around the viewfinder before you take your shot as the odd bit of rubbish, which can spoil a shot, is easy to miss when you're surrounded by so many interesting things. Make sure your subject fills the frame to stop attention going elsewhere and even though it may sound a little clichéd, silhouette shots of people do work well. Try using a telephoto lens to help you compose tightly and have your tripod to hand for those longer, evening exposures.
As well as people shots try a sweeping shot of the sea and beach, stretching out for miles. Early morning or later in the evening after all the tourists have gone will give you an empty beach to work with. However, not everyone has kids who will get out of out of bed early so if the only shot you can take is full of brollys and windbreakers in the afternoon do it. A busy beach, particularly if there's not even standing room left, will always get a smile or you could try to clone them all out if you prefer a more natural shot.
Sunsets are, of course, a holiday snapshot favourite but as the sun's not setting until late on you may want to head off for some food then return to the beach later once your stomach's full.
If you do plan on photographing the sun as it sets DO NOT look at it through the camera lens and wait until it's very low in the sky and diffused by the haze caused by pollution or clouds. If the sun's your main focus, have it slightly off centre to make your final image more compositionally pleasing and don't forget that having foreground as well as background interest works well in sunset shots.
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