7 Ways To Improve Your Seascape Photos


Seascape photography is a sub-genre of landscape photography and in this sense, it is quite similar to classic landscapes. Apart from the sea or ocean, seascape photos can also depict sky, clouds, rocks and stones, beaches and coastal flora and fauna. When you shoot seascapes, you have to be aware of the ever-moving waves since they affect your camera settings, especially shutter speed.   

Check out the following 7 tips and tricks on seascape photography and use them the next time you bring your camera on a trip to the beach!

1. Be Mindful Of Foreground

Even though a large body of water will be the main subject of your seascape photographs, you should be attentive of various details in the foreground, such as rocks, plants, cliffs, puddles, or even people if you want to include them in your seascape photography.

Using the foreground in a clever way will result in better compositions. Instead of shooting just plain images of the sea, you’ll have dynamic compositions which follow more advanced rules such as a frame within a frame, rule of odds, balance, rhythm and so on.  

Photo by Terrance Clarke

2. Play With Shutter Speed

Choosing the shutter speed for your seascape photography can be challenging, but you should know that there are virtually no right or wrong settings as long as your photo isn’t underexposed or overexposed.

Depending on what do you want to depict, you can use longer shutter speeds for silky smooth waters and skies or faster shutter speeds to freeze the movement of waves. For instance, a shutter speed of 0.5 seconds will capture the motion in a subtle way, while a 30-second shutter speed will blur the water.

Ideally, you should play with shutter speed and shoot the same scene multiple times, using completely different settings. This will allow you to carefully compare your photos later on, choose the favorites and edit only the very best of your seascapes.

Photo by Anders Jilden

3. Maximize Depth Of Field

Depth of field is one of the crucial parameters in photography – it is the zone of acceptable sharpness within a photo that will appear in focus. In a landscape as well as seascape photography, we usually want to maximize depth of field so that it covers the entire scene.

Typically, lenses have the best performance at f/8 – f/13 when it comes to landscapes, so that’s a good spot to start from. Smaller apertures (bigger f-numbers) will produce images with soft backgrounds. You can still use wider apertures in seascape photography if you want to focus on various details such as rocks, plants or waves.

Photo by Mark Harpur

4. Get Closer To Your Subject

Instead of shooting the entire scene, introduce some variety into your seascape photographs and get closer to your subject – you may end up with truly creative results!

For instance, you can take close-up photographs of waves – such images will look abstract if you get close enough to the water.  You can also shoot close-ups of various sea plants and shells. Pay attention to colors when you shoot close-ups because they can make or break your composition.

Photo by Mourad Saadi

5. Use ND Filters

If you want to experiment with longer shutter speeds, you should have an ND filter handy. While it’s not necessary to have it, it can be quite helpful and it will allow you to be more creative. These filters simply reduce the amount of light getting into your camera, ultimately allowing you to use very long shutter speeds.

If you don’t have an ND filter, you can use shutter speeds of up to 1 second (by combining a low ISO and narrow aperture). However, anything longer than 1 second will probably make your image overexposed and require the use of ND filters.

If you want to learn more about ND filters and how to choose the best one for your needs, check out this article.

Photo by John Adams

6. Use A Tripod

Using a sturdy tripod is a must when it comes to seascape photography.

Since capturing breathtaking seascapes often involves longer shutter speeds, you can’t rely on hand-held shooting. The slowest shutter speed you can use when hand-holding the camera is anywhere between 1/80 and 1/ 50 of a second. This means that taking those silky smooth photographs of water is impossible without a tripod.

Photo by Djan MacAlister

7. Walk Off The Beaten Path

If you want your seascapes to be more than simply visually pleasing in a serene way,  you will have to put efforts into experimenting with perspective, colors and lighting.

You can shoot seascapes with your drone – such photographs can look quite unique especially if the coastline is uneven and full of interesting rock formations. You can also photograph seascapes at night and take advantage of the starry sky, which will look spectacular when combined with the ocean.  

If you’re feeling really adventurous and brave, you can also photograph a stormy sea! In this case, make sure to protect yourself and your equipment as much as possible – bring a waterproof jacket and a large Ziploc bag!

Photo by Johannes Plenio

If you want to learn more about seascape photography, check out the following links!

Further Resources:

  1. Dos And Don’ts Of Photography At The Beach
  2. Tips To Capture Beautiful Seascape Photographs
  3. 7 Quick Tips For Better Beach Photography
  4. Top Tips And Techniques For Seascape Photography
  5. 5 Helpful Tips To Improve Your Seascape Photos
  6. Tips For Capturing The Perfect Seascape

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About Author

Jasenka is a photographer with a background in web design. You can find out more about her on her website, see some of her newest images at 500px or get to know her better here.

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