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5 Photography Tips for Great Summer Pictures at the Beach

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by Leona (Devaz) Fensome (subscribe)
Savour | Capture | Write www.leonadevaz.com
Published January 30th 2014
iPhoneography takes a dip
Melbourne is currently gracing us caffeine-fuelled sun-deprived Melburnians with good doses of week long bouts of sunshine. If you're anything like me, you've probably been maximising the beach time as much as you can.

The bay and surrounding beaches tend to be filled with great levels of people engaged in activity and also relaxing. For amateur street photography enthusiasts, it can be a diverse environment to hone your urban beach photography craft.

It might feel obtrusive taking your DSLR right onto the beach. Yes, it can make for great captures, but sometimes it's a bit more freeing to be more mobile. Literally. Enter the iPhone (or smart phone if you have that, just as good). 'iPhonegraphy' is a big movement and allows the photographer to be more agile and still focus on framing shots, composition and light.

My favourite time to shoot is sunset, as the light changes magnificently and really allows to you convey different moods and emotions. With settings automatically fixed, you can select the shots through Instagram and add filters to enhance or change the colour palette of your captures completely. I then save these photos onto my camera roll and then load them into Dropbox.

The quality is really lovely and it's a quick way to craft visual stories. Think of it as a digital photo album available at your fingertips to share, use in social media or purely for documenting moments.

Here's my five favourite techniques:

Black and White

photography, beach, black and white
Black and White


beach, couple, photography
Original - before changing to black and white


As you can see from the two images, sometimes black and white really helps to create raw emotion. I really loved the simplicity and love depicted in the couple holding hands walking into the water. By cropping close and changing to black and white, I feel it really enhances the engagement. Having them close to the edge of the frame, with lots of empty foreground helps to create the mood and set the scene.

Resonance

windsurfers, beach, summer
Resonance - symmetry in photography


windsurfers, beach, summer
Resonance - symmetry in photography (the original)


When I studied design and composition of photos last year, I learnt about 'resonance'. It's when the subject matter in your photograph has a connection or relationship, allowing the viewers eye to bounce back and forth between the two. In the photos I took, there is an element of symmetry and mimicry. You'll notice in the first Instagram version, I cropped the windsurfer in the background out - as that was distracting from the look I wanted. The strong horizontal line and environmental context, allows you to just rest your gaze on the subjects.

Sunsets

beach, sunset, photography
Sunsets with HDR


We all love a good sunset and capturing a perfect sunset can be really tricky business. I remember being in Santorini last year, waiting hours for the sunset with hundreds of people. When it disappeared in all its blazing glory - there was resounding applause! I've never experienced anything like it. This was not taken in the Greek Islands, but I did deliberately place it asymmetrically. I also included a few focal points - to create interest. I steer away from centre placement when I can - unless it is bang on in the middle and enhances the feeling. I also really like the silhouette effect this light can create.

HDR (high dynamic range) as you may (or may not know) is a setting on your iPhone. It takes two pictures (underexposed and overexposed) and combines them. It also produces a correctly exposed picture, so you can compare the two. I quite like this feature and particularly for rich colour photos.

Silhouettes

beach, sunset, photography
Silhouettes


I'm a big fan of creating silhouettes in captures and with this particular image I put a filter on through Instagram. It works well when the subject has a distinct pose or action that the viewer can make out. With this type of light (post-sunset) you can have some fun with this particular technique. I also really love the mood of the clouds and how that enriches the atmosphere.

Sun Rays

windsurfers, beach, summer
Windsurfing #1


windsurfers, beach, summer
Windsurfing #2


I put both of these shots in, as I love the difference in the suns rays. One has a distinct purple hue and the other a slightly more radiant glow. The way the light catches on the water is pretty remarkable and there is no post production, editing or filters on these. I shot these before sunset and the light was just glorious. If you are able to, spending a few hours (even a couple) pays dividends - as you get to play around with the quality of the light and produce crisp, vibrant shots as well.

Beach photography is a lot of fun and allows for plenty of movement, atmosphere and practice. I often take a DLSR down, but a smaller version. I'm currently investigating waterproof iPhone and DLSR casings, so I can take the device out into the water. Can't wait for that.

I would also love to hear about your photography. Do you use your smart phone or iPhone? Any tips, challenges, feedback? Shooting at the beach is an absolute favourite pastime of mine and I will be putting up a part #2 with a few more ideas.

Just a note, shooting in a public place is typically fine. I do ask people if I would like particular captures and respect it if they say no (this does not happen much, I ask very nicely!). I generally take observational shots and really respect some peoples need for privacy. Arts law has a good guide on photographing in public.

#Part 2 will be published in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned!
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Your Comment
I love your article but I must say I have not used my smart phone camera much. Much rather use the dslr or the film slr. I can see your point about the phone being less intrusive.

Phil
by Philip Duncan (score: 1|34) 1631 days ago
Thank you Phil. I really love using my DSLR as well, I know what you mean. Two of my favourite photographers Michael Teo (Melbourne) and Koci Hernandez (USA) are great advocates of smart phone photography in complement with their traditional methods. It's a fun way to keep observing life differently.
by Leona (Devaz) Fensome (score: 2|129) 1631 days ago
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