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Snapping Seascapes

Text:  Dylan Kotze. Photograph: Hougaard Malan. Article from the November 2013 issue of Getaway Magazine.

Follow these five tips and you’ll soon be showing off great sea shots from your coastal holidays.

Snapping Seascapes

1. Search for the light

Shoot at sunrise or sunset for the best results. The quality of this wonderful light – pinks, mauves and blues reflected in the water, sand and sky – can turn a bland seascape into something striking. If there’s too much cloud cover, focus on the beautiful intimate landscapes of the shore: rocks, seaweed, shells, pebbles and patterns in the sand, or return another day.

2. Get close to the water

Stand as near as you safely can to the water. It will change a detached, observant picture to one that makes viewers feel as if they’re part of the scene.

3. Include a point of interest

Place a person, lighthouse, prominent rock or a piece of driftwood in the composition, so you don’t lose the viewer’s attention in a vast expanse of sea and sky. It also gives a sense of scale and adds three-dimensional depth. Graphic lines created by clouds, rocks or water movement will lead the eye towards your chosen point of interest.

4. Keep an eye on the horizon

Use the camera’s built-in spirit level, grid lines or virtual horizon display (most cameras have at least one of these tools) to prevent a skew horizon from ruining your photograph. Decide what’s more important – the sea or the sky – and place the horizon to include more of that element. Only position it in the centre when a clear reflection gives the image symmetry.

5. Capture movement

With a tripod for stability, use a shutter speed of 1/15 second or slower to create a misty water effect. Use a neutral-density filter to reduce the light and allow even longer exposure times if needed. Alternatively, use a shutter speed of 1/500 second or faster to freeze the action of a mammoth wave crashing on the rocks.

learn more

Learn more about landscape and wildlife photography from Hougaard Malan and other experts at the Wild Shots Wildlife Photography Symposium on 30 November 2013 at Iziko South African Museum, Cape Town. www.wildshotsevent.com.

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