Seascapes and Shutter Speeds

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Duration: 17:25

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Seascapes are an interesting photographic challenge because they involve capturing water movement in a creative way. In this premium video lesson, Outdoor Photography Guide’s Matt Bishop takes you to the beach at sunrise and experiments with various shutter speeds to achieve beautiful seascape imagery.

Setting up along the surf line, he anchors his tripod low to the ground to capture the wave movement. He favors a 15-30mm wide angle lens with a polarizing filter to capture the vast expanse drifting across the water and into the horizon.

If you are looking for that silky water effect, you should select longer shutter speeds. Matt suggests shutter speeds in the area of one second. He recommends taking your camera off live view and using a remote control to capture wave patterns moving in. As an alternative, you can capture the wave patterns moving back out and try shutter speeds at around two seconds. The goal is to vary your shutter speeds to capture the water flow dynamics.

As the sky brightens and highlights come up, you will want to reduce your shutter speeds. Matt’s favorite setting is 1/3rd second to capture the white streaks of the waves but still retain movement. As the morning wears on, you want to keep checking your shutter speeds to create different photographic effects.

These techniques can also work when shooting waterfalls. Matt continues to reduce his shutter speeds as the light brightens. He goes down to 1/15th second, capturing a composition where the water movement is almost still. He composes his final series at high shutter speeds, his camera at a high angle, rocks in the foreground.

Through all this experimenting with shutter speeds, you want to leave the scene with a variety of composition choices. In this premium video lesson, Outdoor Photography Guide’s Matt Bishop guides you through the process of creating a photograph that illustrates water movement in your seascape images.