Curious about the art of seascape photography? These seven photographers share their favorite travel stories and offer their most effective tips on how to capture the pristine beauty of beaches.
The French explorer, conservationist, and photographer Jacques Cousteau once said, “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” Oceans, lakes, and rivers are realms of mystery; with every wave, they transform, and yet, in some essential sense, they remain the same throughout the centuries. A group of people could look out from the same shore at the same time of day, and each person would see something different.
The sea and its many unknown creatures are reminders of the smallness of humankind; no matter how big we feel, we are dwarfed by the vastness of the water. But at the same time, the sea is fragile. Rising sea levels, increased temperatures, overfishing, and marine pollution are forever changing the ecosystem of our oceans, with ramifications that could last millions of years.
While seascape photography has always been in vogue, it’s even more important now than it was for previous generations. When we photograph our waters, we pay tribute to them, preserve their memories, and advocate for their protection. We asked seven outstanding Shutterstock contributors to tell us their best tips for seascapes that make a lasting impression.
1. “Try shooting in bad weather. Some of the most beautiful and intriguing seascapes I have in my portfolio were captured during heavy storms.”
Sopotnicki (Jacek Sopotnicki)
Image by Sopotnicki (Jacek Sopotnicki). Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera, 35mm lens. Focal length 35mm; exposure 30 sec; f16; ISO 100.
What’s the story behind this photo?
This picture was taken during a very heavy storm on the Curonian Peninsula in Lithuania. The wind was so heavy that day that I had to hang my backpack under the tripod to make it stable.
Try shooting in bad weather. Some of the most beautiful and intriguing seascapes I have in my portfolio were captured during heavy storms. Don’t forget to bring enough layers to keep yourself warm and dry, and try using a very dark ND filter like the ND1000 to get spectacular blurred water effects. With that said, photos of locations that people love for their sunny weather and blue skies sell better if they capture those attributes. The image below is one example:
Image by Sopotnicki (Jacek Sopotnicki). Gear: Sony A6000 camera, E 16-50 OSS kit lens. Focal length 30mm; exposure 1/100 sec; f11; ISO 160.
You can find great seascapes in unusual locations. Travel to countries fewer people visit, and allow yourself to be surprised. Don’t give up too quickly. Sometimes you need a day of walking around with your equipment to find the best angles, places, and light. Try not to overshoot. Be selective, and push your thinking and imagination further.
2. “Your tripod must be heavy and robust enough to remain still and withstand the beating of the waves.”
Mimadeo (Mikel Martinez de Osaba)
Image by Mimadeo (Mikel Martinez de Osaba). Gear: Sony A6000 camera, Sony E10-18mm F4 OSS lens. Focal length 12mm; exposure 2 sec; f16.0; ISO 100 (I used bracketing of 3 exposures).
What’s the story behind this photo?
This photo was taken on the beach in Barrika in the Basque Country (Spain). It is a well-known location for landscape photographers around the world, and I am lucky to live only twenty minutes away. On this particular day, I went to the beach with little hope of getting great photos since there were no clouds in the sky, and there was a lot of atmospheric haze; however, that haze produced this extremely soft light and made it possible to take this beautiful photo.