“Florida” and “beach” go together in most people’s minds, whether residents of the sunshine state or visitors on vacation. Even most vacationers to inland destination areas of the state such as Disney in Orlando plan to fit in at least one day on the coast. This post has some tips to help you get the best beach photographs possible.
The bright sand and sun of a Florida beach can cause the same exposure problems as snow. Many camera meters will try to under-expose, leaving the sand looking drab and the water too dark. Use the exposure histogram when available and know how to use exposure compensation and/or manual exposure to get the proper brightness. A polarizing filter can help make swimsuit, umbrella and sky colors pop. Use flash for people pictures to lighten facial shadows.
Remember composition basics. The rule of thirds works for subject placement within the frame. Diagonal, converging and s-shaped lines all work to draw the eye into an image and add a sense of depth. Having a strong foreground subject is another great way to imply depth in a photo. Be careful with lines and objects breaking the frame edges, which can be very distracting.
Try to add some subtle excitement to the shot. Wait until a wave in the background is just starting to break to trip the shutter. Wait for a sea gull or pelican to fly into the frame. Try a slower shutter speed(if possible) to catch the ripple of the wind in a swimsuit, towel or umbrella.
Add interest to shots by using an unusual viewpoint-place the camera at sand/water level(but watch out for waves). Use bright colors as focal points and take advantage of local architecture and vegetation for subjects and backgrounds. Detail shots imply a sense of place and involvement. Don’t be weather shy-stormy beaches can be very dramatic.
Finally, try to protect your camera. There is almost always at least a light breeze at the beach an anything exposed will become coated with salt. Keep the lens cap on the lens whenever the camera is not being used. Try to keep the camera itself out of the wind as much as possible. Be aware of waves when near the water line. Carry a dry cloth and/or blower brush in a pocket or case for cleaning/drying lenses and removing sand.