Some Thoughts on Beach Photo's
Quite a few people flock to the beaches during the summer and apart from the water there are quite a few photo Ops that we can take advantage of during our trip.
One thing to think about even before you hit the beach is 'how will I protect my gear'? The most obvious threat is sand and water so think about how will you keep you equipment clean? Sand can blow, be transferred by your hands, and can easily transfer from clothing or even your cloth camera bag. Think about putting your camera into a hard shelled case for the day, possibly even water proof. There are quite a few options out there but one of the most cost effective can come from Harbor Freight. Be sure to bring a lens cleaning kit along with you. Strongly consider using a telephoto lens, even if that is not your norm. Remember, each time you change a lens, you potentially expose the inner workings to sand.
What about heat? Leaving your camera equipment hot temperatures for extended periods of time may degrade the cameras function. Returning your camera to your car is usually not the best option since the temperature inside a car can easily reach 105 degrees F while sitting in the sun.
Do you really need to bring your most expensive camera with all the accessories? The reality is that there are those on a beach just looking to 'pick up' expensive equipment.
While some people dismiss the idea of screw on UV filters, this filter at the beach can potentially keep an expensive lens from accumulating sand and scratches. Just be sure you purchase a quality filter so not to degrade your images. A polarizer filter can also help here, but reducing unwanted reflections from the water or sand.
Giant Reflector Compensation>>
Just about everything is going to reflect light at the beach. Sand, water, sidewalks, some rocks, buildings etc... and can really throw off the metering in your camera. Using exposure compensation controls on your camera can actually bring out the texture in the sand (-1 EV will underexpose). Look for areas that may have a bit of shade, and if you are shooting people in the afternoon sun consider a inexpensive speedlight to lessen harsh shadows. Also consider SPOT metering if you want to avoid overexposure or underexposure of your images. Check your histogram frequently on the back of your camera.
Beach Sunsets >>
Can be tricky to be certain as the light values will often change minute by minute. One of the manual modes, aperture, time, or manual is usually best for this type of shot. Take a meter reading from the sky starting at about F8. Bracket your shots by one stop in either direction, and in many cases your camera will allow you to auto bracket. Based on the camera, it may either change the F-stop or exposure compensation value, and will allow you to take 3 or more shots normally exposed, underexposed, and then overexposed. Keep in mind that you may need to adjust your ISO manually as light level changes.
Beach shots can be dramatic- give it a try the next time you are on vacation!