Now that Summer’s officially here (hooray!) it’s really tempting to go off to the seaside with your camera. After all, anywhere where there’s a boundary, such as the sea and the land, gives interesting images. I prefer the coast to the seaside (there’s a difference), and love the light you get off the water.
Here the gentle waves are lapping onto a very flat beach on the Gower Peninsular in South Wales. I used a telephoto lens, carefully supported to avoid camera shake, to turn the waves into a series of stripes. The breaking wave at the bottom right also breaks the pattern, giving more interest.
The weather is not always so kind, and if you have lots of salt spray flying about it can damage sensitive cameras and lenses, so you do need to be careful.
This huge wave crashing into the rocks, also in South Wales, was spectacular to see, and I chose the lowest viewpoint I could to make it look as big as possible. This meant I was getting covered in spray, so I was very careful about how long I exposed my lens to it. I kept my camera well covered under my coat and only took the image, handheld, at the last moment, rapidly putting my camera away again afterwards. 600mm lenses are expensive!
It’s safer to avoid that salty stuff in the air by moving away from the beach and shooting the land that’s been eroded by the waves. These cliff strata make fabulous patterns. I chose a viewpoint that removed everything that gave clues as to how big it was. It made the scale of the image difficult to determine; adding ambiguity to images adds interest.
Another way to add interest is to add simplicity. This composition is, at first glance, very simple with the rounded stone sitting on a diagonal line, but the longer you look at it the more complexity you see. It’s a sort of “Zen” image.
I had to change my lens here, and could not put it down on the rocks because of the sand that might have got into it; not a good thing.
Here, I’ve shot the beach from above and included the people to give a sense of its scale. They are on their own, which tells a story, and also makes you ask questions. Again although it looks simple at first, there’s a suprising amount of complexity in this image. The shape of the area they are standing in is mirrored by the wave arriving at the bottom left, which gives more symmetry to this asymmetric image, and even though the sky is not in the shot, you can tell that it’s blue, as there’s a blue reflection in the water.
So, as you can see, you can get great shots by the sea, but you need know how to look for them. I’m thinking of running a one-day/weekend coastal photography training course/Photo Trek in South Wales. If you are interested in that do e-mail me, and I’ll keep you up to date with developments.