Un­der­stand the tides

Be aware of the chang­ing tide and its im­pact on your scene

Digital Photograper - - Techniques -

Tides prob­a­bly have more im­pact on seascapes than any other fac­tor – a lo­ca­tion can look like a com­pletely dif­fer­ent place at dif­fer­ent times. So how do they work and which tides suit which types of lo­ca­tion?

Put sim­ply, the tide is the rise and fall of the sea level, caused by the grav­i­ta­tional pull of the moon and the sun. For­tu­nately, it’s not nec­es­sary to un­der­stand the the­ory in or­der to be able to work with the tides – you sim­ply need to be able to read tide ta­bles (see ‘Use­ful Apps’ box). It’s worth remembering that tide pre­dic­tions, while ac­cu­rate in terms of tim­ing, as­sume an av­er­age air pres­sure (1,013 mil­libars) and any vari­a­tion will af­fect the tide height. For ex­am­ple, a high pres­sure of 1,040 mil­libars could re­sult in a tide level 30cm lower than pre­dicted. Wind speed and di­rec­tion will also have an in­flu­ence.

Sandy beaches of­ten have max­i­mum im­pact at low tide, with a wide beach stretch­ing out in front of the cam­era, en­cour­ag­ing min­i­mal­is­tic com­po­si­tions. Fall­ing tides are prefer­able, as there is a greater chance that the sand will be clean and free of foot­prints. With rocky beaches and bays, the trick is to shoot them when the tide is low enough to re­veal some in­ter­est, but high enough to cover dis­trac­tions.

Right Hide clut­ter

Rocky shore­lines gen­er­ally suit mid or high tides, as dis­tract­ing clut­ter is hid­den but there is enough in­ter­est above the wa­ter­line

the rock stack makes a strong fo­cal point in the com­po­si­tion a fall­ing tide means the sand is clean and free of foot­prints the sand is wet af­ter a wave has re­treated, so it re­flects the colour­ful sky the low tide re­veals other rocks which pro­vide ex­cel­lent fore­ground and mid-ground in­ter­est

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