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How To Photograph Rocks As Patterns & Textures To Enhance Your Photos

How To Photograph Rocks As Patterns & Textures To Enhance Your Photos

Here’s our guide to shooting our rocky landscape to create abstract patterns and textures to use in other photos.

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Landscape and Travel

Textured Wall

 

Our landscape is abundant with rocky views from the gneiss rocks of Scotland, through the limestone pavements of the Yorkshire Dales, to the rocky Jurassic coastline of Dorset. Move-in closer and their patterns and textures provide fabulous abstract opportunities for photographers.

 

1. Gear Choices 

The beauty of this technique is any camera/lens combination can be used. No special kit is needed – just a good eye for the best viewpoint and artistic flare to determine the best composition. You could use a tripod to be sure of a rock (excuse the pun) solid view, especially when shooting patterns on the ground, as it can be harder to hold the camera rigid when you’re pointing downwards. If you do use a tripod make sure it has an option to splay the legs out wide so you don’t get them in the shot.

A standard lens is ideal, especially for rocks patterns below your feet – either a fixed 50mm or short zoom from around 35-70mm range is fine. Use a longer lens if you can’t get close enough to the rock face. This is ideal for distant coastal cliff faces or mountainsides. A lens with a close focus will be handy when the texture is more important…you can focus in close on the more intricate details of the rock’s composition.

 

2. When To Take Your Photos 

Shoot in overcast light if you want less contrast, but this can reduce the impact of the photo. Sunlight casts shadows making the patterns of rugged rocks become almost 3D. You can use the flash from your camera set to fill to reduce the shadows. If you use a camera that has flash control set the flash compensation to -1 in sun-behind-clouds situations and -2 in bright sunlight. The result will be a reduction in the density of shadow areas, but still enough to give the necessary 3D effect.

 

3. Where To Look

Some of the best patterns can be seen in strata, layers of rock that have been formed by layer upon layer of rock or soil millions of years ago. These layers have become exposed by erosion from the sea or natural earth movement or from being cut away to make roads.

Some of the best viewpoints for photography can be found on the coastline. Go to any rocky coastline and you’re likely to find interesting rock patterns and textures, whether on the cliff faces or the natural pavement you walk on. Cliff faces provide head-on views and show the strata with the most dramatic lines while the ocean bed, exposed at low tide, can provide smoother more interesting shapes.

Look for rocks covered on lichen – coastal and exposed mountain moorland areas or dense woodland where it’s likely to be regularly damp are ideal for this sort of texture. Use the lens on close focus to crop in on the minute detailed textures and patterns.

 

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johnriley1uk’s latest blog : windmills of your mind

johnriley1uk's latest blog : the cameras with the wonderful lenses

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Windmills of Your Mind

17 Sep 2021 12:08AM  
Views : 61
Unique : 52

We were driving back to our holiday cottage in Soham when we spotted a windmill. This actually turned out to be Northfields Windmill and it took a bit of locating. It was the usual strory of being able to see something but not being able to find a road that actually led to it. Eventually we did and enquired as to whether we could shoot some pictures. We chatted to the owner Andrew and then another visitor Yvonne and her brother turned up and we all chatted and then we were offered the chance to go inside and explore.
The windmill is in great condition and currently under restoration.
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Plenty of work is going on inside.
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Diane climbing the stairs.
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Holes in the floor for the unwary.
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Yvonne also explored, but her brother stayed outside.
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Many thanks to Andrew, the owner of the windmill, for his kind hospitality.
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It’s always great to find something unexpected!

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8 Top Tips On Using Your Tripod Safely On Rugged Terrain

8 Top Tips On Using Your Tripod Safely On Rugged Terrain

Scottish Landscape

 

When using a tripod on terrain that is rocky, uneven, or hilly, there are a few things that you can do to make sure your tripod is as stable as it can be. Some of these tips may seem like common sense, but they will hopefully help prevent any accidents such as your camera taking a plunge in a river!

 

1. Weight And Load

Before you venture out make sure you’re using a tripod that can support the weight of your gear. Also, if you’re buying a new tripod and are planning on getting larger heavier lenses in the future do take this into consideration when making your purchase. Look for a light tripod rated for the highest weight as you’ll soon notice the weight of your tripod once you’re halfway up a wet, uneven hillside. 

 

2. Assess Your Environment

It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so make sure that the area is stable enough to stand your tripod on before setting up. If you’re working on very rocky terrain or near the edge of a big drop, make sure the tripod is not liable to slip.

It can also take a while to set your tripod up so it’s always a good idea to find your location and have some ideas about composition before putting your camera on its support. 

 

3. Legs Before Column

When setting up, extend the legs before extending the centre column. Extending just the centre column is one quick operation and you are ready to shoot, but it is not good technique and can leave you with an unstable base to work with.

 

Scottish Landscape

 

4. Adjust The Legs

Extend the fattest leg section first and keep the thin, spindly legs till last for when you really need the height. Having a wider base to work with is always a wise decision as they are more stable. Many tripods now offer various angle settings that lock at different degrees.

 

5. Ensure Your Tripod Is Level

Many tripods and tripod heads have built-in spirit levels to help you keep the tripod level. If your tripod hasn’t, buy a spirit level to fit onto the camera’s accessory shoe.

 

6. Position Of Your Tripod’s Legs

Point one of the legs towards your subject so you have room for your feet between the two other legs. This will mean you have one less thing you have to worry about falling over when working on tricky terrain. 

 

Scottish Waterfall

 

7. What Feet Does Your Tripod Have?

Most tripods have rubber feet which absorb shock and offer good grip, but some do have spiked feet. Spiked feet can be bought as optional accessories or sometimes you can get both types in one. They’re particularly useful for outdoor photographers as most of the time you’ll end up working on loose soil, dirt, and other surfaces that will be uneven. 

8. Keep It Stable On Windy Days

Some tripods have a hook which you can feature a centre column hook, you can hang a bag of stones or other weighty objects off it to balance the tripod. Another option is to take a heavy camera bag and wrap the strap(s) around the tripod’s head to add extra weight. For lighter tripods, use your body as a shield from the wind. Sticking spiked feet into the ground will also help keep the tripod still, they’re particularly useful when working at the coast to stop waves knocking your gear into the sea. 

Another option is to use a piece of string or some nylon webbing can add extra stability. Tie one end to the centre column and have the other tied in a loop. Next time in a strong wind, have the string/webbing hanging down and slip your shoe into it and lean down. Your body weight will give extra stability.

   

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Capturing The Best Of Britain With Your Camera

Capturing The Best Of Britain With Your Camera

Capture the many castles, homes and other iconic structures that can be found in Britain with our handy 5 top tips.

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Architecture

Scotland

 

Britain’s bursting with structures and buildings that photographers are naturally drawn to thanks to their postcard-perfect looks and history. It also helps that many of the buildings are in locations that are perfect for a day out, making them subjects photographers can shoot and their families can enjoy too.
 

1. Do Your Research

It’s worth finding out who the home, castle etc. belongs to before you carry your kit out to it as some organisations have rules on what can be photographed, what they can be used for and what kit’s allowed inside. A quick phone call or a check on their website should give you the answers you’re looking for. Some places won’t allow you to use a tripod while others may have rules on the type of bag, if any, you can take in with you. There may also be a rule that says no flash photography is allowed so do keep an eye out for signs and ensure the flash built into your camera is switched off.  
 

2. Castles

Holy Island Castle

 

From ruined hill forts to beautifully preserved country houses, castles provide majestic architectural delights for us photographers. For more tips on photographing castles, have a look at these guides where we share a few tips to help you take better photos of these fortified structures:

 

3. Stately Homes

Stately Home

 

Many Stately Homes found in the UK open their doors to the public, giving photographers the chance to capture interesting interiors as well as shots that show the extensive grounds and buildings. Take a look at our article on Photographing Stately Homes for advice on what to photograph and how.
 

4. Churches

Durham Cathedral

 

Small rural churches and grand cathedrals have decorated our nation’s skylines for a very long time and they’re well worth photographing. If you can, take your camera inside these magnificent structures (you may be charged a small fee) as they are often even more impressive on the inside.

ePHOTOzine has several articles on photographing churches, both on the inside and out, which can be found here:

 

5. Villages

Capturing The Best Of Britain With Your Camera 2

 

Even though this isn’t about just one structure, scenic villages are popular tourist destinations and they make good subjects for photographers. Picturesque streets and the famous ‘chocolate box’ style houses make them a worthwhile stop-off, plus there’s usually ample chance to capture a fair few candids too.

Have a look at ePHOTOzine’s Guide To Photographing Villages for more tips. For more architectural photography tips, take a look at ePHOTOzine’s technique section

 

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How To Make Sure Your Subject Is The Main Point Of Interest

How To Make Sure Your Subject Is The Main Point Of Interest

Owl

 

Most of the time, when you’re out taking photographs, even if it’s a quick snap, make sure your shot has a strong point of interest as if it doesn’t, you’ll find anyone who looks at your image will look at the image, their eyes won’t find anything to settle on and they’ll simply move on to look at another shot. Without a focal point, there’s nothing to draw them into the photograph so they’ll simply lose interest with it. Of course, the more interesting the focal point is, the better your shot will be but there are a few other things you can do to make sure your focal point draws the viewer’s attention.

 

1. One Main Focus Point

Images can have various points of interest but don’t let them pull the attention from the main subject as your shot will just become confusing and the viewer will be unsure what to look at. Less attention-grabbing points of interest can be used on lines to draw the eye to a final resting point.

 

2. Lead In Lines

As mentioned above, by placing minor points of interest along a line you can guide the eye to your main point of interest. Straight lines such as fences or paths work well but other shapes, as talked about in our beginner’s composition guide, can work equally as well. The spiral of a staircase will guide the eye up or down while positioning items along an S curve with the main point of focus at the end will lead the eye through the image. There’s also the triangle where key features appear along the sides and points of the shape and when it’s used correctly, you can create balance in your shot and also guide the eye through the photograph. Repetitive or symmetrical objects such as lamp posts lining either side of a street, a line of palm trees, statues or a series of arches can also be used to guide the eye to a single point.

 

3. What’s In Focus

By using a larger aperture if you’re working manually or by selecting Portrait Mode or Macro Mode if you’re working close-up, which lets the camera know you want to use a larger aperture, you’ll be able to throw the background out of focus, leaving all the attention on your main subject which will be sharp. By putting more distance between your subject and the background you’ll be able to make the effect more prominent too. If you’re a DSLR user, switching to a longer lens (zoom or prime) with wider maximum apertures will make it easier to get the blurry backgrounds you’re looking for.

 

How To Make Sure Your Subject Is The Main Point Of Interest 3

Photo by Joshua Waller 

 

4. Blur

When your main subject is moving, be it a pet, a person running, a car or bike, try using a slower shutter speed and pan with them, blurring the background into streaks but leaving them sharp. This will mean all focus falls on your main subject and the sense of speed is increased thanks to the horizontal streaks the background now has.

 

5. Size

A more obvious way to make sure you have one main point of focus is to fill the frame with it. This works particularly well when photographing flowers but can be applied to portraits too.

How To Make Sure Your Subject Is The Main Point Of Interest 4

Photo by Joshua Waller 

6. Colour And Pop

Use contrasting colours or take it one step further and have a go at colour-popping, where you leave your main point of focus in colour and turn the rest of the image black & white. If you’re shooting portraits, positioning your subject against a dark background will really make them ‘pop’ from the image.

 

7. Frame

By adding a frame you guide the eye to one main focal point in the scene that you want highlighting. You can also hide other objects you don’t want to be in the shot behind your frame and it does have the added effect of just making your image more interesting generally.

 

8. Crop

If you have images on your computer that seem a little busy try cropping it to see if removing some of the elements makes it less busy and as a result, you get a main point of focus.
 

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Kickstart Your Creativity With An A – Z Photo Project Today

Kickstart Your Creativity With An A - Z Photo Project Today

Bring the alphabet to life in an interesting and challenging photoshoot than can last a few hours, a whole day or how about an entire year?

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Creative

Kickstart Your Creativity With An A - Z Photo Project Today 5

 

Shooting an A to Z photo project is a more versatile area of photography than you might first think. You can, of course, shoot items that begin with each letter of the alphabet, but it’s much more fun and testing at times if you shoot things that are shaped like letters.

 

What Gear Do I Need?

As letters can be found in various locations at different heights and angles you’ll probably want to take a zoom lens out on your journey with you so you can shoot wide and also at longer focal lengths without the added weight of multiple lenses weighing your bag down. 

 

The Search

Some letters will jump out of the subject at you with ease while others will take a little more thinking about. Make sure you carry a checklist to keep a track of letters you’ve captured and you may find it easier to think about one letter at a time rather than hunting for several in one go. 

This project will have you walking all over so wear a comfy pair of shoes and of you have kids, this is a great thing to get them involved in, too.

 

Some Suggestions 

Branches make good candidates and also rocks with holes in can make great ‘A’s or ‘P’s. Anything that looks even remotely like a letter will create a quirky and fun piece of photography. A lamp-post, for example, will make a great ‘I’ while the end of a bench looks like an ‘L’ if you look closely enough. Once you’ve found all of your letters, try turning them into one big collage that you can hang on your wall. You’ll probably find yourself capturing the near and far, the small and large, the straight and the curved, in sunshine and shade so this project is a great way to challenge yourself and your photography skills.

 

Kickstart Your Creativity With An A - Z Photo Project Today 6

 

A Twist On The Theme

The other thing that you could try with this theme is an A – Z of photography styles. B for Black and White, S for sepia, etc. This is probably suited to more experienced photographers who know more terminology, though.

Another more fun thing you can try is getting a group of friends to pose as all the letters of the alphabet or as mentioned above, capture objects that begin with each letter of the alphabet. If you’ve already tried an alphabet project why not take on a number challenge instead? 

Be experimental with this – there are no real rules other than that the photos must represent the alphabet in some way. You could make it more challenging by limiting yourself to inside or outside objects, for example. But most importantly, though, it’s about having fun and enjoying your photography!

 

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Tips On Using Negative Space In Your Photos

Tips On Using Negative Space In Your Photos

Sometimes it’s what you leave out of your images that makes them great as we explain in this article.

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General Photography

Fungi

 

If used correctly, the empty space you leave in your shots (negative space) can make your photograph more interesting and easier to focus on rather than trying to fill every inch of the frame with interest. Negative space can play several important compositional roles so here are a few tips to help you think more about making the most of what’s not in your scene:

 

 

1. Reinforce What’s Important

The obvious role of negative space is to show the viewer of your image what is and what isn’t important in your shot. If there’s nothing else fighting for focus, their eyes will be able to settle on your main subject without searching the rest of the shot first.

2. Balance Your Shot

Negative space can make a shot appear more balanced and as a general rule, you need twice as much negative space to the area taken up by your subject. For example, if you shot a close-up portrait and your subject fills the right third of the frame, you’d want the two thirds to the left to be negative space.
 

3. Give Your Shot Context

Of course, there are times, such as when you’re shooting environmental portraits where you want to make the most of the size of the place you’re taking photos in, when the above rule won’t apply.

With environmental portraits, it’s often what’s around your subject that gives the shot more interest so filling your frame with your subject would mean the context would be lost.

 

Plant

 

4. Space For Your Subject

If you do place your subject to one side of your frame make sure they’re looking towards the area of negative space. The same goes for action shots where they’re running through the frame as generally, your shot will be more compositionally pleasing if they have space to move into. Of course, if you’re wanting them to increase the sense of speed or want to make people wonder what they’re looking at, position the negative space behind them, almost pushing them out of the frame.

5. Negative Space Doesn’t Have To Be ‘Empty’

By using one colour in your background when shooting indoors or by throwing it out of focus if you’re shooting outdoors, it won’t become a point of focus for your viewer so all attention will fall on your main subject. However, sometimes adding blur to your backgrounds will leave your shot with less impact. For example, if you’re out shooting portraits and behind your subject is a mountain scene, shooting with a smaller aperture so you get front to back sharpness will exaggerate the amount of negative space around them, giving the shot more meaning and impact as a result.

6. Exaggerate The Negative Space

Take the idea one step further and strip all the colour out of your shot, leaving just the shapes and space around them to tell your story. You could also remove all the textures from the shot by shooting silhouettes.

 

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How To Avoid Those Postcard-Style Shots When On Your Travels

How To Avoid Those Postcard-Style Shots When On Your Travels

If you want to capture holiday photos that are a bit different to everyone else’s vacation snaps, have a read of our 5 top travel photography tips.

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Landscape and Travel

eiffel tower

 

Once you have your tourist, postcard style shots, spend a few hours of your vacation time thinking about how you can do things a little bit differently. (Yes, we know we are talking about not doing this but the reason everyone takes these shots is that they do actually look good, most of the time. Just remember to get up early or stay out late to miss the rush of tourists so you stand a better chance of capturing people-free shots.)
 

1. Use It As A Secondary Point Of Interest

Instead of making the landmark your main point of focus, place another object in the foreground and use the landmark as background detail for your shot. You could use a larger aperture to throw it slightly out of focus but don’t go too wide as you still want the landmark to be recognisable. For shots with plenty of depth of field, think like a landscape photographer, standing further back from your landmark so you can add interest in the foreground as well as the middle and background of the shot.

 

2. Find A New Angle

This is an obvious point that’s also easier said than done sometimes but even the smallest change in composition can make a big difference to the shot. Try blurring foliage into an out of focus frame, shoot through a window or arch or look for objects your landmark can be reflected in. Shooting down into a puddle of water, particularly on a moody, wet day will give any landmark photo an interesting twist while switching from a wide lens to telephoto so you can crop in will give you a shot that’s ever so subtly different but yet, still recognisable to those back home.

Watch for where the crowds go and head off in a different direction, looking for new vantage points to shoot from. This could mean climbing to get above it or trying to get lower to shoot from nearer the ground. We can’t guarantee you won’t get any funny looks but you should walk away with a set of unique shots. 

 

eiffel tower

 

3. Get In Close

As landmarks are well known you don’t have to get the whole structure in the frame for people to know what it is. The blue/green shade of the Statue of Liberty will be recognisable no matter how close you zoom in. In fact, the shapes created to form drapes in the statue’s clothing could create an interesting abstract shot if you have a lens that can get you close enough.

 

4. Head Out When Other’s Don’t

A cloudy, rainy day will put most sight-seers off and you should take advantage of this. They’ll be less bad weather shots than there are scenes with blue sky and sun. Rainy days also mean you can shoot reflections (as mentioned above). Just remember to protect your equipment as unless it’s waterproof, it won’t like the rain.

 

Whitby

 

5. Human Interest

We said above to head out early/late to avoid crowds but including one or two people can give your landmark shot a new angle. By adding people, street vendors setting up near the landmark or people sweeping away rubbish, you add a new level of interest to what would be ‘just another tourist shot’. As people have a habit of stopping what they’re doing and either grinning or frowning when they see a camera pointed at them you may need to work more like a street photographer to get shots where your subject isn’t posed. 

 

 

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How To Stop Wire Fences Ruining Your Wildlife Shots

How To Stop Wire Fences Ruining Your Wildlife Shots

Learn how to capture shots of wildlife that look as though there wasn’t a wire mesh fence between you and it.

| 
Animals / Wildlife

Black Vulture

 

Zoos and wildlife parks are great places to get up close with wildlife, but the fences and glass keeping us and the animals safe can cause a few problems for photographers.

 

Height Is An Issue

Fences often rise above eye level and the tops aren’t in easy reach (for good reason) so you can’t hold your camera up above it to take your shots. As a result, we often have to take photos with the cage in front of us but this doesn’t mean the fence has to appear and as a result spoiling the shot.

Sometimes it’s easy to capture fence-free shots as the gaps in the mesh are just big enough for a lens to be poked through, however, when it’s not, you’ll have to use a few other tricks to capture your wildlife shot. 

 

Close With Wide Apertures

One way is to get as close to the fence as possible and select a wider aperture. Then, line up your lens so it’s over a gap or if they’re too small, try and wait so the face of the animal you’re photographing is in a gap. Once the animal has put some distance between them and the fence, take your shot. The fence will, hopefully, be thrown our of focus, thanks to the reduced depth-of-field, so you won’t even notice it while your subject will be sharp. 

You may find that Auto Focus tries to focus on the fence rather than your subject so switch to manual focus to ensure your subject is sharp. 

 

Longer Lenses

If you are using a lens that doesn’t have a particularly wide aperture then don’t worry; you’ll still be able to capture a mesh-free shot with a longer focal range. If you can’t shoot through or throw the fence out of focus you can often clone it out later using an image editing program. 

 

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5 Methods For Improving Your Coastal Landscapes

5 Methods For Improving Your Coastal Landscapes

Seascape

 

It’s the school summer holidays here in the UK which means many will be heading to the coast either on day-trips or for a longer holiday which gives us photographers the chance to capture a few coastal landscapes. If you do have coastal landscapes on your summer shoot agenda, here are a few tips to think about.

 

1. Time Of Day

You can capture coastal landscapes at any time of the day, however, most photographers favour the light during the ‘golden hours’. You get this light regardless of where you are, but it is where it falls that is important. On the east coast, the land gets warm light early in the day but not later when the sea gets the benefit. On the west coast, it is the other way round. But this is a massive generalisation because of the way the coastline is not made up of straight lines. Check an OS map to see the potential of the coastline you’re visiting and do your research online to ensure you don’t miss the best light.

It’s also worth noting that everything from blue skies dotted with white clouds to brewing storm clouds can work well at the coast, you just have to be out at the right time of day with the right gear which includes waterproofs and protection for your camera gear if you’re heading out when the heavens have opened.

 

2. Pack The Right Accessories

Wide-angle lenses will be what we tend to reach for first when landscapes are in-mind and a tripod is an essential piece of kit no landscape photographer should be without. As you could be working with lower light levels and slower shutter speeds you may want to consider taking a remote / cable release to reduce the risk of camera shake and make sure image stabilisation is switched off when supporting your kit on a tripod otherwise shake could be introduced. To balance the exposure, you may find an ND grad filter handy as the sky tends to be a lot brighter than other areas of your shot.

 

3. 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 use of your tripod.

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.

 

Coastal Landscape

 

4. Long exposures

If you’re working when the light’s lower or just like the ‘misty’ water effect, you’re going to need to use slower shutter speeds. For this, 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 and remember to use low ISOs as well as a small aperture. If you don’t want to capture the ‘blurred’ water shot, you’ll need to use quicker shutter speeds, wider apertures and you may need to increase your ISO level. Alternatively, visit the location earlier / later (depending on the time of day) when there’s still plenty of light in the sky.

A blurry sky dotted with clouds will give you the chance to create patterns as the longer exposures cause the cloud’s movement to stretch across the sky and if you wait until the sun’s set you could capture the movement of the stars as trails above the ocean, but this is a wholly different technique in itself.

 

5. 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.

 

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