How to photograph a stunning seascape

Photographing a seascape

A few weeks ago I was commissioned to capture some images for a commercial client on the island of Anglesey in North Wales. After what was a successful day of capturing a wide brief of scenes on the island I finished off in the small seaside town of Beaumaris. After playing  at being a tourist for a while, eating a bag of fish and chips while fighting off the seagulls I headed for Pen Mon, a short drive away. As sundown loomed I reflected on the countless images I’d seen of this location on social media but despite being a regular visitor to Anglesey I had never photographed it before.

The shot

My thought process as I drove to the location was that I wanted to blur not only the water but also the clouds. With this in mind I knew I would need to use an ND filter (my gran used to tell me “if you buy cheap you by twice” and this is so true when it comes to ND filters!)
After setting up in several locations with varying amounts of foreground elements and moving location as the tide went out, it was a waiting game for the light and weather to play ball.
My final location for this image had my tripod sat in a rock pool with the sea splashing around the legs, with this in mind it was important to remember to make sure there was no spray on the lens before each photo (a lens cloth is essential). Now sometimes I err on the side of caution and shoot wider and crop in later but I knew that I was going to be putting this image up for sale so it was important to fill the frame with my final image. I fired off about 20 shots as different amounts of clouds moved into the scene, there are no default settings to get any shot and moving clouds and water are the same, you simply have to choose a setting to start from and work from there. With this location I had started at 30 seconds and adjusted ND filter in line with increasing the exposure time. This was the second to last shot I took out of 20 shots with different cloud movement so as with most landscape photography your patience will normally pay off and reward you with the shot you envisioned.

Pen Mon Lighthouse

To get this shot I used the following settings,
ISO, 100 (keep your image as clear as possible)
F-stop, f11 (with a scene like this f11 keeps everything in the scene in focus)
Mode,  Bulb (for longer shutter speeds)
Focus, Manual  (focus 1/3 into scene to keep everything in focus)
Focal Length, 60mm
ND, 8 Stops (to limit the amount of light entering the lens)
Shutter, 59 seconds (to create the motion blur in the clouds and water)

Gear list for this shot

Canon 5d mark 3
Canon 5d mark 3

Camera is not really all that important but having a camera that allows you to alter the settings is a must for you to be able to take creative control.

Canon 24-70 f2.8 L
Canon 24-70 f2.8 L

Again lens is not that important but a few things to bare in mind, if you’re using a wide lens you won’t be able to use a deep hood so in a shot like this you’ll have lens flare because of shooting into the sun, also a hood will help reduce the spray off the sea.

Variable-ND-High-Res-sm
Tiffen Variable ND

A quality ND filter will ensure you have the most accurate colour and deliver a sharp image (cheaper ones will give you a colour cast in your final image and make your images soft)

SLIK PRO700DX Legs
SLIK PRO700DX Legs

Good quality legs are a must to keep your image sharp again the make doesn’t matter but invest in a good set and you’ll only buy once!!

Manfrotto MHXPRO-3W
Manfrotto MHXPRO-3W

Personal preference for a head for your tripod you may prefer a ball head but again buy a decent one and you’ll only buy one!

TRIGGERTRAP MD3-N3
Trigger Trap MD3-N3

This Trigger Trap isn’t necessary a simple £10 manual trigger off Amazon will do however this is a great bit of kit!

and finally,
You don’t need all this gear to experiment with photography, with a simple point and shoot camera try setting your camera on the smallest aperture it will goto and lowest ISO then place a pair of sunglasses over the lens, if you haven’t got a tripod use a post, tree, rock or something and use the timer function to ensure you don’t have camera shake when taking the photo.

Map of location