Plan your trip
Learn how to go about preparing for a rewarding seascape shoot
Successful shots are rarely the result of chance and seascapes are no exception; great coastal shots are nearly always the product of careful preparation. Once you’ve identified a potential location, plenty of research is necessary to make sure that you visit at the right time of day to capture it in the best light. Usually, you will want to make sure that light is falling onto the shore and that bays and coves are not left in shadow, and it may be that your shoot has to be planned for a particular time of year.
These days, there are many online resources and apps available to help with planning. Probably the best-known of these is The Photographer’s Ephemeris, available as a free desktop app or a paid-for smartphone/tablet app, and it has become an invaluable aid for many landscape photographers.
The app provides a huge amount of useful information, including sunrise and sunset times and angles, the angle of the sun throughout the day, moonrise and moonset times, the times of different phases of twilight and more. For basic information about sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset, you just need to search for a location and place a pin there. To see sun and moon positions at different times of day, simply drag the time slider at the bottom of the screen. By placing a secondary pin on the map, you can also get information about the elevation of the surrounding terrain, which enables you to calculate when, for example, the sun will rise above or dip below a particular hill.
When planning coastal shoots, you will also need to consider the tides, which can have a huge impact on the appearance of a location, as tidal ranges in excess of ten metres are not uncommon in the UK. The weather, too, plays an important role in your plans and can dramatically change the mood and atmosphere of a scene, so when planning, it’s vital to check the weather forecast. Weather can be very localised, so if possible, get a local forecast; once you get to within 48 hours, these are generally very reliable.
The result of planning
there is a window of only about two weeks in the year when this composition is possible. using the information shown in tpe will enable you to calculate when the thick orange line shows the angle of the sun at sunset
sunset, sunrise, moonset, moonrise and times of different phases of twilight the thin orange line shows the sun’s angle at the time set on the slider the thick yellow line shows the angle of the sun at sunrise