Unlike most landscapes where light is the variable, the sea is in constant movement, so even in the same light you can capture a variety of different images.
Next time you are at the beach, have a good look around and pay particular attention to all the movement and drama playing out around you. Waves crashing on jagged rocks, wind blowing through the grass and shrubs, sea gulls swooping for food, sailing boats and tankers, clouds rolling in, people surfing and fishermen on the rocks. Capturing movement in a seascape can add interest to an otherwise static image.
Try getting down low for a different perspective or turning your camera for a different angle, just remember to keep your horizons straight as nothing ruins a good image quicker that a sloping horizon. Reflections and silhouettes can also add an interesting element to your water shots.
There are a couple of very useful filters you can use to improve conditions when shooting seascapes that will assist you in achieving pleasing results. In strong lighting conditions, use a
neutral density filter. This will enable you to lengthen exposure times and give your waves a soft, smoky look. A graduated filter will help to reduce the contrast between the landscape and the sky and a polarising filter will darken skies and reduce haze.
Be prepared to get wet when photographing seascapes. Wear water shoes with plenty of grip to prevent slipping and risking not only your safety but that of your camera and equipment. Use a skylight or UV filter to protect your lens from abrasions caused by particles of sand and always pack a lens cleaning kit and towel. Some photographers will also wrap their camera body in a plastic bag to protect the camera from sea spray and erosion caused by the salt.
You’ll save yourself a lot of time if you do a bit of homework before you set out. Tide times and angles of the sun at sunrise and sunset can be extremely useful information when planning a visit to a site you’ve never been to before. There is a very handy (and free), piece of software available on the internet called “The Photographer’s Ephemeris” that uses Google Earth to show exactly where the sun and moon rise and set in any location on the planet, on any given day. There is even a version for iPhone. Apart from the software itself you’ll also need to download Adobe Air but both are available to download from www.photoephemeris.com.