Raise your hand (or your favorite summer refreshment) if summer isn’t complete without a trip to the beach! To me, summertime means sleeping in, impromptu get togethers with friends, and as much water time as my my sunscreened skin can take.
The beach brings it’s own set of photography inspiration, lighting, challenges, and rewards. Quite honestly it is my very favorite place to be with my camera. I’d like to share with you three photography considerations for what to pack for your next beach vay-cay.
#1 Gear Protection: It’s no secret that the wind, water, and sand aren’t camera friendly. However, this doesn’t stop me from bringing my “big girl” camera out. I keep my DSLR and lenses inside my camera back pack, which is generally set up high off the ground on a table, lawn chair, or stroller. I also wrap the backpack up in an extra clean towel for additional protection from the sand. When it is time to start taking pictures, I will occasionally use this super cheap rain guard, which helps keep water spray and sand particles off my camera body. Note that it is not waterproof! The front part of the cover is completely open, so I suggest a UV filter to help protect the front of your lens. Finally, the best way I have found to quickly dust off any sand particles is to use a handy Lens Pen.
#2 Choose Your Lenses Carefully: My two favorite lenses to shoot with at the beach are the Sigma 15mm 2.8 Fisheye (Canon Version and Nikon Version) and the Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART. I also suggest packing a longer focal length – the 135mm and 70-200 have both come in handy for me when shooting at a far distance from my kids. I try to pack light for trips, so the combination of my fisheye, one wide angle, and one longer length lens works well for me.
I have written about my love for my fisheye here, and a year later it’s still one of my cheapest and best lens purchases I have ever made. If there is an interesting sky at the beach, you better believe that my fisheye is out.
And, even if you aren’t into the super “fishy” curved look of the fisheye, you can still capture gorgeous images by keeping your camera as parallel to the ground as possible (not tilted up or down) and by applying lens correction settings in post. The image below was taken with my fisheye and corrected so that it is “straight” in Lightroom.
#3 Consider Some “Shoot Through” Objects: For me, the beach just lends itself to creativity and experimentation. I love trying new ideas. If you haven’t tried shooting through a prism yet, prepare for a burst of inspiration and order one before your trip. Or try a plastic baggie or piece of glass. I recently read about the “ring of fire” and thought it would be a neat trick to try as well.
#4 Bring Some Props: My good friend Sally Molhoek, of SallyKate Photography, is the QUEEN of perfectly executed styled shoots. Her props always add a bit of whimsy and fun to all of her images. She kindly shared some prop suggestions:
“The best thing about beach photography is that the ocean, sky and sand tell such a powerful story, props can be blessedly minimal (and save you from removing sand from them for ages!). Consider purchased seashells, a few sticks and some string and fabric swatches for a makeshift tent, or a vintage bucket and pail from ebay, maybe a glass jar with battery powered lights. If you want to go bigger, or go with a theme, you might enjoy a teepee or a small painted boat or painted metal pail.” (Sally Molhoek)
In two weeks I will share some additional tips for beach photography. Is anyone going somewhere exotic or unique this summer? Let us know!