A Day at the Beach Sometimes, I’ll come

A Day at the Beach

Sometimes, I’ll come across a scene that’s so picturesque, it almost seems as though there’s little more to do than “point and shoot.” Of course, it’s never quite that easy.
I was recently in Antigua, West Indies, photographing the seascape of Dickenson Bay. Located on the northwestern coast of the country, Dickenson Bay is a beach known for its calm seas and white sand. On this particular day, it was further enhanced by a magnificent sky filled with puffy, cumulus clouds.

A seascape on its own can look somewhat boring without a little help. It’s always good to anchor it with an interesting foreground element. In the Caribbean, palm trees are probably the most clichéd subjects of choice. However, I decided to use parts of the shoreline in one photo, and a rock jetty adorned with a lone seagull in the other. I lowered the height of my tripod-mounted camera to place the horizon just above the seagull’s head.

The most invaluable piece of equipment is a polarizer filter. The effect of this filter is unique – an effect that (as of yet) cannot be digitally duplicated. Simply by rotating it, you can remove polarized light from an image, resulting in a reduction of reflections and glare, and an increase in color saturation. This effect is most pronounced on a blue sky. For these images, I used colored polarizer filters – providing all of the aforementioned effects, as well as an enhanced color scheme. I used a blue/yellow polarizer for the shoreline photo to emphasize the blue in the sky and to add a warm tone to the sand. The rock jetty image was better suited to a blue/red polarizer. It enabled me to saturate the color of the sky, while improving the color of the rocks. I have other colored polarizers, but these two produce the most realistic-looking effects.

Probably, the most important thing to keep in mind when shooting seascapes is the horizon line. It’s absolutely imperative to keep it straight. If you’re shooting a busy forest scene or mountain vista, it may not be too noticeable if the shot is a little off-kilter. But, seascapes have a very distinct horizon, and even the slightest slant will throw the entire image off. There are a number of ways to ensure a straight line. My camera has interchangeable focusing screens. I can replace the normal split-screen with a grid screen which will overlay the scene in the viewfinder with a series of horizontal and vertical lines. To do this, I need to remove the top of the camera and manually insert the screen. Some of the newer cameras today have virtual horizon lines that can be activated with the simple push of a button. Any of these methods are much more accurate than trying to use your naked eyes to line up the horizon.

When nature serves up a virtual “perfect picture on a platter,” it always take a bit of effort to successfully capture in 2D what you witnessed in 3D.

Submitted by:
F.M. Kearney is a fine art nature photographer, specializing in unique floral and landscape images. To see more of his work, please visit http://www.starlitecollection.com.

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