Do you like seascapes? How about photographing the wave’s flow and motion? Yes? Then this is for you!
I personally love doing seascapes more than landscapes. Inclusion of the unique flow and movement of water makes an image more dynamic. Then add the thrill of photographing one plus the satisfaction it brings when I see the result on my camera’s LCD, those are some of the reasons why I really love doing it.
Before we proceed on the workflow, here are a few things to consider when photographing on wet conditions. Be it sea, river or lakes.
- Suit up – Invest on neoprene waders or overshoes. It will keep you dry, warm and protected at all times.
- Sturdy Gear – Mid to pro level tripods is a must. Travel series tripods specially those with light and very thin legs can easily break. They are not built to get bombarded by rushing waves.
- Remote trigger – Continuously pressing the camera’s shutter button will lead to camera shake.
- Rain cover – Protect camera from water sprays/splashes.
- Cleaning cloth – To wipe away unwanted sea and water sprays/splashes etc.
Common sense and timing – Read how the waves behave, observe for a couple of minutes. Always check your surroundings. If in doubt, turn back. You can always try again. Swells/waves have a pattern, keep in mind that there’s always a big one coming up.
Now you’re ready for some action. Let’s begin.
I will be using my shot from Breiðamerkursandur, Iceland or more popularly known as, the Ice beach as an example for this workflow.
Step 1: Visualize your composition – Look for uncluttered foreground objects. More room for the water/waves to play.Here’s a sample image from the scene: Waves are coming from my left and receding back to the sea.
Step 2: Plant your tripod – Make sure to place the legs of your tripod against a rock or deep into the sand. Why? This will prevent any unnecessary movement coming from the rushing or retreating water/waves.
Step 3: Set camera’s shooting mode to continuous/burst mode – This will enable you to capture movement of the water/waves continuously frame by frame. Use the remote trigger.
Step 4: Look for the ideal speed – A wave’s motion depends on a lot of factors; wind, surface, etc. Ideal range is from 0.3” – 1.0” second to capture the “swirling” pattern. Keep in mind that shorter shutter speeds will freeze the wave’s motion. Fire a few test shots until you get the effect that would suit your taste.
Step 5: Get your background right – Focus first on capturing a well exposed background. So that you can shift your focus on anticipating for that perfect wave for your foreground.
Step 6: Capture all of the motion – Press and hold the remote’s shutter button from the moment the waves enters and leaves your foreground. This will enable you to capture the entire movement.
Tip: Since water is white, and white is bright. Aim for 1 stop underexposed.
After following the steps above, I was able to capture a string of photos (below). Three workable shots from that series.
That’s it! Too easy? So why not take it to the next level by combining the wave patterns coming from different shots within series and at the same time, bring in the properly exposed background to produce one perfect image. How do I do it?
I start by opening all of the images from the series simultaneously in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) – White balance adjustments, chromatic aberration removals and lens corrections. Make sure to synchronize the adjustments over all of the images before proceeding to PS (Photoshop).
I would then look for the images that I want to combine together. For this series, I will be combining five different wave patterns for the foreground and blend in a properly exposed background.
After I have selected my foreground images, I will then stack them as layers in PS.
Next, I will use PS’s “Auto-Align layers…” function to perfectly align my foreground images. This is to avoid the unnecessary ghosting effects on my foreground objects caused by masking un-aligned layers.
I use PS’s layer masks to combine the waves together in one image. Make sure to flatten the image after.
Last, blending in the properly exposed background. I select (ctrl or cmd A) and copy (ctrl or cmd C) my desired background image and paste (ctrl or cmd V) over the flattened foreground image as a layer. Carefully combine both images together by hand using PS’s layer mask. Make sure to flatten the image after.
Below is the combined multiple foreground pattern + properly exposed background.
From there, I will then apply the necessary enhancement (saturation, contrasts, etc) and give my image the “pop” that it deserves. Final image:
That’s all folks! Keep on shooting and Keep on practicing! Sharing is caring!
Article by Patrick Marson Ong
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