How To Take Breathtaking Images Of The Coastline :: Digital Photo Secrets

How To Take Breathtaking Images Of The Coastline

by David Peterson 5 comments

The coastline is full of photographic opportunities. There is an entire world where the ocean meets the sand. You can zoom in and photograph starfish and other finds, or you can bring your wideangle lens and create dramatic landscapes. The next time you head to the coast, try out these digital photography tips.

Landscapes: Find Something Interesting To Place In The Foreground.

The great thing about the beach is that there are all kinds of interesting things you can use in your foreground. Look for shells, starfish, rocks with strange patterns, lighthouses, and anything that stands out. Try to place your foreground object in the lower, upper, right, or left third of your image. This helps to draw attention to it, keeping your viewer interested in the entire scene.

Don’t be afraid to get down really low to place your foreground object at the center stage. I’ll sometimes get on my belly to use a shell to frame the photo. You’ll also want to zoom out as much as you can, and then get really close the object you’re photographing. The more you zoom out, the closer you need to be.

Landscape photos look better when there’s just as much detail in the foreground as there is in the background. Increase your aperture to a setting between f11 and f22. This helps you get more detail and sharpness throughout the entire image. Sometimes this means you’ll need to use a slower shutter speed to take in some extra light. If that’s so, make sure you rest your camera on a tripod.

Head To The Coast As Early As You Can

There are two reasons why the morning is such an amazing time to take pictures of coastlines. To start, the morning is the most calm time of day. There tends to be no wind, so the water is usually crystal clear. If you want to get an image with a reflection on the water, this is the time to do it.

Mornings also have the most dramatic and colorful light. The sun illuminates the clouds on the horizon, turning them different shades of pink. You can use this in your landscape photos to create the oh so familiar “successories” look. Successories are those motivational posters you see in offices all around the world. They usually feature a few words on leadership, motivation, and synergy, right next to some gorgeous sunset images taken from a stretch of coastline.

Whenever I head out to the coast, I take care of the big landscape photos first. That allows me to get the most out of the best light of the day before it’s gone. After that, I focus on the other things. That’s when I get out my macro lens and look for crabs, sea shells, starfish, or anything else that catches my eye.

Don’t Forget About Everything That’s Next To The Coast

Sometimes the best things to photograph aren’t what you expect. The following image was the best of the bunch the last time I visited the coast, and it didn’t even include an inch of the ocean.

The sun was coming through the trees in a really interesting way that day, so I snapped this photo before it got too high in the sky. The ocean was behind me, and I couldn’t find any interesting things to photograph there, so I turned around and saw this tree. The coast isn’t just the coast. It’s everything around the coast as well.

Be aware. People will tell you a place is great to photograph, but most things that are beautiful in our minds rarely photograph well. In any shooting situation, you always need to pay attention to every opportunity - not just the ones the you came there for.

So the next time you’re out on the coast, remember to put an interesting object in the foreground and keep your eyes open. You’ll be amazed at what you find.

And if you have any outstanding images of the coast, I’d love to see them. Upload them to our Beach Photos Gallery.

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  1. Kyoko Uchida says:

    I would like to share this website called Pashadelic ( since it might be very useful for all the photographers who are interested in taking coast photos. In this website, you can figure out the Sun rise, Sun set time as well as Moon position and weather information. Since the outdoor and lighting condition is very important for coastal line, I find it might very cool tool.

  2. jawad says:

    thanks David!!!!! your tips are very effective! i can feel the difference of my photos!!! thanks again...........

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About David Peterson
David Peterson is the creator of Digital Photo Secrets, and the Photography Dash and loves teaching photography to fellow photographers all around the world. You can follow him on Twitter at @dphotosecrets or on Google+.