Make it a shore thing!
Had enough of impossibly smooth, milky-water seascapes? Jason Parnell-Brookes explains how to shoot images that capture all the movement, energy and drama of the sea
For our big project this issue we took our Nikon to the seaside. But shooting a seascape isn’t just another landscape shoot, as you’ve got the additional element of moving water to contend with. The secret is to capture waves as they crash onto land and convey that motion in your image.
So taking control of shutter speed is the most important thing, but while you’ll need to use long shutter speeds, they’re probably not as long as you think. We’re talking a range of around 1/4 sec to 4 secs – any quicker and you’ll freeze the waves and they’ll look boringly static, but if the shutter is open for too long then you’ll end up with a shapeless wispy blur.
Due to the lengthy exposure times required, you’ll need to keep your Nikon still and so a good quality tripod is a must; and it’ll have to be rigid and tough enough to stay rock-steady as the surf washes around its legs.
Good foregrounds are key; you want the sea to interact with it and form interesting shapes and patterns, so rocks or pools are good choice. It’s also desirable to have a striking background to elevate your image beyond the standard snap. They say the sea is a cruel mistress, and this is especially true for seascapes, when the wind whips up the waves and batters the end of your lens. If you don’t organize yourself you’re in for blurry photographs or, worse, a Nikon at the bottom of the ocean.
Turn the page to discover all you need to know, from planning your shoot to walking away with your Nikon safe and sound, having bagged a fantastic shot.