Some people go to the beach for the sun, sea and sand experience while others go to rise with the sun and take as many photographs as possible. Have you ever wondered how to create those beautiful seascape photographs? Well, Gunther Swart, one of our fantastic photographers here at Outdoorphoto, takes us through the process.

Seascape photograph taken by Gunther Swart

Go exploring

Even before travelling, the photography bug starts to bite and Gunther uses Google Earth to scout some good shooting spots. He very seldom shoots on the first day since he’ll rather first explore the area and look out for leading lines and cool angles, aka: the perfect scene.

Plan your shot

Deciding whether you should shoot at sunrise or sunset will depend on the specific seascape image you want to create. Keep in mind that planning your shot can be the difference between a good shot and a great shot! And even though you have a good idea of the sunrise and sunset times, make sure you get there early enough to set up and start playing around with angles and settings.

Good lenses to use for seascapes

There are a couple of different approaches regarding gear. Gunther says that he’s shot some of his best seascape photographs using a 70-200mm f/2.8 Mk II Canon lens. Two other lenses that he recommends for photographing seascapes are the 24mm (on a full-frame camera) and a 16-35mm (ultra-wide) lenses. With these last two lenses you might need to put a little more effort into the planning due to curvatures.

Make use of filters and get creative

There are endless opportunities if you’re feeling like getting creative. Gunther frequently makes use of neutral density (ND) filters. These include gradient filters that only darken a section of your image and normal ND filters that darken the whole image. The third option will then be to use variable ND filters that screw in and adjust depending on how much light you want to stop/control. “I find these filters very easy to work with but that they do create a colour cast.”

Seascape photograph taken by Gunther Swart

A few important reminders:

  • Explore the coast for possible shooting areas
  • Check sunrise and sunset times and plan accordingly
  • Get there early
  • Remember to use a descent tripod and PUT YOUR IMAGE STABILISATION OFF! “I’ve lost some good images due to leaving the image stabilisation on.”
  • Don’t let the lack of having a “landscape lens” stop you. Use what you have.
  • Remember that f/16 is usually sharper that f/22 (minimum apertures are usually not your lens’s sweet spot)
  • Get out and shoot
Seascape photograph by Gunther Swart
Seascape photograph taken by Gunther Swart
Seascape photograph taken by Gunther Swart
Seascape photograph taken by Gunther Swart