Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Get Into The Wet Zone
Kurt Budliger gives us practical tips for creating dynamic coastal seascapes
Our affinity for and connection to the sea has been deeply rooted in our art and culture for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. In the United States alone, there are more than 95,000 miles of coastline, with approximately 39% of the U.S. population living in a coastal county. And, of course, many millions more flock to the shore to recreate and vacation every year. It's no wonder coastal landscapes are some of the most published images in print media and extremely popular in contests and online photo-sharing sites. However, photographing in this dynamic and ever-changing environment can be tricky business. Fortunately, there are several tips and strategies that can get you well on your way to creating the stunning coastal landscapes you've always dreamed of.
When the tide is low, the intertidal zone will be exposed, which can reveal intriguing tide pools, algae and barnacle-encrusted rocks that make interesting foreground elements for your wide-angle shots or perhaps intimate landscapes in their own right. However, when photographing fishing harbors, low tide can leave boats stranded on the exposed bottom, and if you had planned to shoot intimate reflections, you'll be sadly disappointed. A low tide early in the morning is a godsend for sandy beach shooters since the outgoing tide will have washed away unsightly footprints, leaving the sand in a pristine, untracked state. And shooting breaking waves along the rocky coast of Maine at high tide with a long lens can be tremendous fun. The bottom line is that whatever the tide is doing, the coast will look different and unique, and you just might have to adjust your vision to match the prevailing conditions.
Obviously, light and weather are extremely important variables in creating mood and atmosphere in our photographs, and they're no less important to the coastal landscape shooter. There's nothing quite like shooting sunrise along the rocky Atlantic coast in Acadia National Park or setting up to capture the last rays of the setting sun along the Pacific. But don't rule out shooting sunrise along the Pacific Coast or sunset in the East just because the sun will be at your back. While shooting in the direction of a rising or setting sun often yields dramatic results, the opposite direction can be just as good. For example, on the West Coast, features like sea stacks and rock outcrops are often portrayed in near silhouette when photographed at sunset. By contrast, early morning can provide an opportunity to photograph these features with sidelight, which highlights more texture and detail on the facades of these great monoliths.
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