Three beach huts on the British coast are the focus of attention in our ‘Photo of the Week’ (POTW) winning shot this week.
Titled ‘Osea Beach Huts‘, Ian Robinson captured the image in Essex on the Blackwater Estuary where, when the tide comes in, the huts sit in the water giving photography fans the chance to play around with long shutter speeds to create ethereal seascape images.
We love the sense of calm this image has with its pastel shades, pink sky and smooth, soft seawater stretching right through the frame. The perspective is great with the steps inviting you to sit on the deck of one of the lovely beach huts so you can enjoy the calming waters first-hand.
It’s a beautiful example of fine art photography that we’d be more than happy to hang on our wall.
All of our POTW winners receive a Samsung EVO Plus 64GB MicroSDXC card with an SD Adapter courtesy of Samsung. To be in with a chance of becoming our next POTW winner, simply upload an image to our gallery where you’ll also find all of our past POTW winners.
Plus, going forward, we will also announce a new ‘Photo of the Year’ winner who’ll win a Samsung Portable SSD T7. Each POTW winner, 52 in total, will then have their image shared in a new POTW forum where, in January 2022, we will ask you all to hit the ‘like’ button on your favourite images. Then, the ePHOTOzine team will count up the likes and our first ‘Photo of the Year’ winner will be announced.
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 sunblock, 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 smartphones 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.
3. Use Beach & Sea Ready Cameras
Many cameras are now designed with coastal locations in mind. Some compacts 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.
A popular shot to capture when you’re photographing beach huts is to use a wide-angle lens to get a full line of these colourful structures in the frame. If you plan on doing this, try to get a large expanse of sky in the shot too. Be careful if you’re using a particularly wide lens as you can end up with objects creeping into frame that you didn’t want to capture and keep an eye on your exposure.
Most of the time you’ll find the sky will come out lighter than the foreground and you may need to use a graduated ND filter to balance the light levels in the shot. In some cases, you might even find the foreground to be brighter than the sky, such as when there’s a storm brewing behind the huts. The highlight detail is our main focus so make sure you meter from this (usually the sky) and leave the shadow areas to their own devices. If you find your foreground looks a little dull after doing this try using +1EV and reshoot. For shots where the sky’s really interesting try lining the roofs up along the bottom of the frame.
2. Get In Close
An alternative option is to move in close for a more abstract viewpoint. You won’t have to move your feet very far to find ropes, padlocks, panels, signs, ornaments, cobwebs etc. You could even shoot a few photos of peeling paint and rust which can be used as textures in other shots. If you want to be more focused pick a theme, colours work well and shoot it. This isn’t something that just has to be restricted to one day either as you can build your collection up over a few weeks then combine them to make an interesting piece of wall art.
Make sure you move in close and concentrate on balancing the shot so the composition works. You can shoot close up shots on any days, but overcast ones are easier to work in, giving you a more balanced look to the tonal range.
3. Include People
If the owners of the beach huts are home, ask if you can shoot a few portraits of them. For more candid shots try working further away with a wider lens so you can look like you’re photographing something else but still capture the person you want in the frame. If the huts are open you could also ask if you could shoot a few shots inside them as you’ll find some that are well decorated and full of trinkets or other items worth a quick shot for the album.
4. Out Of Season
When summer ends head back to the coast when everything is boarded up as the tired exteriors and the peeling paintwork on the lonely beach huts will still make interesting photographic subjects even if there’s not much going on in the rest of the seaside town.
Winter light is low and will give colourful beach huts more punch. If you’re lucky to visit on a sunny day, a blue sky will lift a shot taken at the coast during winter while a sky full of rain will help emphasis the sense of loneliness and abandonment.
Every dog owner likes taking their dog to the seaside. Some beaches do stop dogs going on the sand so check before you step foot on it.
1. How To Start?
Your approach will be dictated to a degree by your pet. Some dogs will sit and pose happily for hours for a treat; others need to be worn out with exercise before staying put for any period of time. Take the approach that suits you best.
2. Think Like You Would For A Shot Of A Person
Treat photographing dogs as you would a person. Consider the background and the composition as well as the subject itself. Use camera settings to make the most of the opportunity too. Wide apertures to throw the background out of focus and slow shutter speeds for deliberate blur. Relatively slow shutter speeds work well too if your dog has gone for a dip and emerges to shake itself dry. Add some backlighting, perhaps with a blip of flash from the camera’s onboard unit, and you have a nice picture.
3. Capture Movement
For action shots of your pet running, try manually pre-focusing on a particular spot and when your dog runs into it, press the shutter. You’ll also need a reasonably fast shutter if you want to capture them running along the beach.
Having someone with you will definitely help when you’re trying to capture action shots as you can ask them to call for the dog while you concentrate on shooting.
4. Longer Lenses
You may find that using a long zoom makes it easier to capture shots of your dog as they will be less aware of what you’re doing and won’t try and play with your camera and lens. With longer lenses, use a wider aperture to create a shallow depth-of-field.
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.
1. Gear Suggestions
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 saltwater 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.
2. Capturing Portraits
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.
3. Lighting Tips
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.
4. Check Your Backgrounds
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.
5. Don’t Forget Your Basic Beach Shots
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 bed early so if the only shot you can take is full of brollies 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.
6. Capturing Sunset Scenes
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.
Camera bag – Keep your gear safe from sand and sea salt when you’re not using it.
Tripod – Something lightweight and portable will be perfect as it won’t take up too much room in the car and your arms won’t ache after carrying it around all day.
Polarising filter – Help reduce reflections and boost contrast.
UV filter – Protect your lens from scratches.
Hurricane blower and lens cloth – Make sure your lens is free of sea spray and keep grains of sand out.
2. How To Protect Your Gear
You might enjoy a day out at the beach but your photography gear won’t. Make sure you wipe all of your gear down when you get home and leave it to dry out completely. Spiked feet will stop your tripod slipping into the sand as you’re trying to frame up while a UV filter will help stop sand scratching your lens. When you’re not using your camera, remember to put it back in your bag and if you’re using a DSLR and want to change lenses, try and do it off the beach and out of the wind so sand doesn’t get blown where it shouldn’t be.
3. What About Time Of Day?
The warm light of an evening will give you better results than midday sun or if you’re a morning person, get up early when the sun’s at a lower angle so your shots will be more evenly lit without large, deep shadows running through them. There will be less people around at this time too as most of the day-trippers will have left if it’s later in the evening or not arrived if you’re up at the crack of dawn. Don’t dismiss shooting a few shots of a busy beach though, particularly if it’s a hot weekend and the sand can’t be seen for towels and seats.
4. Don’t Just Look Out To Sea
Sweeping vistas of the ocean and cliffs do look great but do try turning around with your camera and photograph the scene that’s unfolding behind you. Just be careful who you point your lens at as there is a chance it will upset some parents who’ll want to know why you’re photographing their children. Try capturing shots that help tell the story of what happened at the beach – close-ups of sun cream bottles, buckets, spades and dropped ice cream cones make great ‘fill-in’ shots for photo albums and photo books.
5. Look For A Focal Point
When you do shoot out to sea try giving the shot a focal point in the foreground otherwise it can look a little empty. Driftwood, rocks and footprints are just three things you could use to add an extra element of interest to your shot. Just check you’re using a small aperture before you take your shot to ensure front-to-back sharpness.
6. Focus On The Water
To turn the waves into a smooth, dry ice-like motion you need to set your camera on a tripod and dial down to a slow shutter speed. How slow you need to go will depend on the movement of the waves and how bright it is so some experimentation will probably be needed. If you’re struggling to get the speeds you need use a polarising or ND filter to reduce the amount of light entering the lens.
7. Change Your View
If there’s a pier get on top of it to give yourself some height. You’ll then be able to get more of the beach scene in shot. If you’re using a compact camera that has a tilt-shift mode, getting up on the pier will give you the chance to turn the people sat on the beach into model-like characters. If there isn’t a pier try extending the centre column on your tripod to give you more height. You may want to pack a remote release in case you can’t reach the camera’s shutter button when your tripod’s extended. It’ll also help reduce the chances of shake spoiling your shot.
8. Check Your Horizons
You need to make sure your horizon’s straight and try moving its position to draw the viewer’s attention to a particular part of the shot. See our previous piece on Horizons for more tips.
9. Shoot A Sunset / Sunrise
You can’t go to the coast without photographing a sunrise/sunset (depending on which coast you’re on). Just remember to have yourself at your chosen location an hour or so before sunset/rise and make sure you pack your tripod as working hand-held in these low light situations will only cause shake. For more tips on this, take a look at our previous articles:
10. Capture Some Close-Ups
Shells and pebbles are just two subjects you can use for a spot of close up photography on the beach. For more ideas and tips, take a look at our previous piece: Close Up Work With Compacts.
11. How To Deal With Exposure Problems
The problem with sand sat against a light sky is that it can confuse your camera into underexposing the shot so try using exposure compensation to deliberately overexpose the scene. It can be tricky getting the whole scene exposed correctly and bracketing can help, however, if you have subjects that can’t stay still, your shots won’t line up when you’re back in front of your computer.
If you’re working with a compact camera switch it to Beach scene mode from the camera’s scene mode or picture mode menu. The Beach scene mode will increase the exposure slightly to compensate but also adjusts the white balance to make the sand look more natural.
12. Photograph People
To capture your kids running around switch to fast shutter speeds and continuous shooting mode. If you want to slow things down try getting them to do something that’ll keep them in one place such as building a sandcastle you’ll be able to get some great frame-filling shots of their faces to show their expressions but do zoom out a little too as this will give the shot context. If you find the sun’s casting shadows on their face try adding a little fill-in flash and avoid positioning the sun behind you as this will only make them squint. For more tips on shooting portraits at the coast take a look at this article: Holiday Portraits.
Beach huts are wonderfully photogenic and you can get great pictures of them almost regardless of the lighting conditions. However, beach huts get elevated to iconic status when the scene is complemented by a photogenic sky.
1. Gear Suggestions
A wide-angle will help you make the most of big skies, but even the short end of your standard zoom should be fine. Obviously the wider your lens the more sky that you can include. However, there is the danger of going too wide and including fantastic sky detail as well as more mundane bits, so do frame carefully. A selection of filters can come in very handy so do pack some graduates as well as the polariser.
Lovely skies can occur at any time of year and at any time of day so you just have to be aware of the conditions and keep an eye on what’s happening. With heavy showers followed by brief spells of intense sunlight, there is every chance of dramatic skies, not to mention things like rainbows.
Periodically check what’s happening in the heavens as the day progresses and in the end, you might end up with a good set of images, all taken from the same spot but looking very different as the sky is constantly changing.
Exposure can be tricky because of the wide contrast range between the sky and the beach huts, so you need to think about metering to ensure the optimum result. In some cases, you might even find the foreground to be brighter than the sky, say when there is a doom-laden dark sky behind the sunlit huts.
With this sort of shot, the most important of the scene is the highlight detail (usually the sky) so meter off that and let the shadows worry about themselves. If the foreground then looks too gloomy use exposure compensation to help and reshoot.
If the light is changing quickly, and this can happen in stormy conditions, bracket exposures to make sure you get a result you are happy with. If you find the sky is still coming out too light, fit a graduate filter.
A polariser can intensity a colourful or a stormy sky depending on the direction of the light so that too can work. A polariser can enhance a sky to make it work even better for a black & white conversion. However, you might prefer the natural approach and that is perfectly fine.
In terms of composition, being bold can help. Some people might want to compose using the rule-of-thirds, but this can actually look rather static. Lining up the huts along the very bottom of the frame can work better and give even more prominence to the sky. Just explore the options when you are framing up the shot.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.