When you want to capture the beauty of the moment you’re in, here are a couple of insider tips you can use regardless of what brand of camera you have.
3 Tips for Shooting Beaches
- Make sure the sun is behind you (the photographer). If you shoot into the sun, your subject will be too dark and carry too much of a shadow. At sunset, you can aim into the sun but remember to increase your aperture to let what little light is left in the day into your sensor. Sunrise pictures can have harsher light than midday. If there are no clouds, remember to increase your F stop to 6.5 or higher to prevent overexposing the image.
- Don’t be afraid to get close to the water. Being mindful of the waves, you can get some great shots by kneeling down close to the sea shells or rocks being washed over by the waves. Also try angling the camera up to create a depth of field between the object and the horizon. Ewen Bell, an award-winning photographer from Australia, puts this tip on his top ten list. “The world changes when you are closer to it,” he says.
- Find an anchor. No, not like a boat anchor. When I was in Stirrup Cay on a cruise, I used my 55mm lens to get a shot of the jetties hugging the shoreline. Sure minimalism shots of the beach-ocean-horizon-sky look great too. But if you want to add some perspective, place the jetties in the middle or lower third of the viewfinder. Zoom out if the water has a range of hues and zoom in if a few seagulls have landed on the rocks. Then, wait for the waves to crash on the rocks, then you’ll have yourself a nice beach photograph.
3 Tips for Shooting Mountains
While Ansel Adams might be a better person to offer advice about this, here are some things I learned while skiing in Jackson Hole, WY.
- Night falls fast. When taking pictures of the sun setting behind the mountain peaks, you can capture a range of purple colors you never thought you would see on snow covered hills. But shoot fast and lower your F stop to 4.5. If you have a tripod, try finding an uplight from a hotel landscape and aim just above it. Keeping the shutter open longer can create a dramatic effect.
- Snow can be as bright as the sun. Watch your light meter to make sure the whiteness doesn’t blank out the rest of the image in the photo. For inspiration, check out Glen Boles’ book “Art and Photography of the Canadian Rockies and Columbia Mountains.” While I had no intention of skiing down the black diamond slopes, I took the tram up to the top anyway. At 13,000 feet, you can get some amazing pictures, even into mid-March.
- Bring a long lens. When a group of bison blocked our snowmobiling path, I was able to put my 110mm lens on my camera and practically count their nose hairs. You might think you only want to take wide-angle shots, but bring the extra lens just in case. The bald eagle sitting atop a nearby pine tree looked great in my close up shots. Just remember not to extend the long lens to its entire capacity because images become too blurry unless you have a built-in stabilizer.