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Beginner: How to get best possible beach pics with minimal gear?
Old 05-02-2005, 10:14 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Hi,

I'm fairly new to shooting on beaches (as I live in the UK!) but when I go on honeymoon in July my wife-to-be and I both want to get some nice shots of her on the beach (in Zanzibar). She is Kenyan and has mid-brown skin - if that makes any difference.

I shoot 35mm film at the moment, and have had good results with Fuji Reala 100. Should I be thinking of using any other film? If I can afford it, I'm very tempted to switch to a Canon 350D. I have 24/2.8, 50/1.4 and 100/2 lenses, and a 550EX flashgun.

So what advice would any of you offer me re: taking the best beach photos?

Should I be using flash? With exposure compensation? No flash?

What if it's overcast?

Which focal length and apertures do you think would give the most pleasing results?

Does a polarising filter help?

I've included some pictures that we took in Kenya a few months ago; any suggestions for improvements in posing and lighting etc. would be gratefully received.

I don't really have any opportunity to experiment (not on a white beach in the sunshine, anyway!) so I'd appreciate any hints or tips. I don't really want to be buying and carrying reflectors or any extra gear, unless there's some lightweight stuff that will make a significant difference.

Thanks for any help at all!

Jon.

Previous unguided attempts at beach photos:



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Re: Beginner: How to get best possible beach pics with minimal gear?
Old 05-02-2005, 01:23 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm no expert but one thing I'd suggest is you shoot during the golden hour instead of when the sun is high in the sky. The golden hour is an hour before sunset. The sun is low in the sky and its light golden in color.

The problem with shooting in the afternoon sun is it is very bright and the model ends up squinting or having to wear sunglasses etc. Another solution is to shoot in open shade, like under a tree. This will give you a softer light.

Those are just a couple of suggestions for a guy who hasn't really shot much beach stuff. Take them for what they are worth.
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Re: Beginner: How to get best possible beach pics with minimal gear?
Old 05-02-2005, 01:53 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Welcome aboard. Glad to see some more Kenyan models here.I'm a beginner myself, but from an accumulation of posts I have read on this sight and in other photography media, your best bet would be to take your shots at either after sunrise or before sunset, keeping the sun behind you or her main focal point towards the sun. I don't have a beach shot yet, but here's just a simple picture of my wife. She's Maasai with a hint of Kikuyu.

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Re: Beginner: How to get best possible beach pics with minimal gear?
Old 05-02-2005, 01:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Should I be using flash?

Yes. One should be prepared and learn to use flash at appropriate times. If you have a flash powerful enough to become the main light and underexpose the natural light, thus giving nice rich skies. You can also shoot well into the already setting sun and create rich backgrounds by using flash as your main light source. Fill flash can help on overcast days or when sweet light is not available. Use natural light whenever possible and only use flash for specific reasons.

With exposure compensation?

I always bracket when I am shooting with flash. I want to have different background results from light to dark. Sometimes when shooting tight I don't care that much for background so I will compensate exposure to match the look I want or to broaden my spectrum of looks.

What if it's overcast?

Last 3 examples below are all on overcast days.

Concentrate more on the subject then the environment. Use flash possibly and you can use other things like mirrors and silver reflectors with a warming filter over your lens or amber gel over your flash. Backgrounds will be muddy but pleasing results can be achieved if you concentrate more on the subject then the environment. If the cloud line has shapes, you can use flash and create unique skies by including the sky in the background on overcast days. No reason to give up. Overcast skies can be easier and less challenging and you can still create some amazing stuff.

Which focal length and apertures do you think would give the most pleasing results? 200 to 300 mm f-2.8

Does a polarising filter help?

IN the middle of the day, yes, they help the most.







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