How To Take A Midday Beach Shot

Sometimes, when you travel, you can’t take photos at the “ideal” time.

Most of us know our outdoor photos will come out best if they’re taken in the magical light around sunrise or sunset.

However, when you’re traveling, you often have to shoot when you can.

For instance, I was hiking midday (in harsh, bright, sunlight) when I found myself on a beautiful beach.

The beach was deserted and picture-perfect, except for the horrible light.

I knew I wouldn’t be at this same spot again.

I love how the photo came out, but I had to put a little thought into “making” it.

Fortunately, I had a .6 soft gradual neutral density filter in my bag.

(I used a Lee Filter, but B+W makes a great one too.)

In seconds I had it on my camera.  The filter really toned down the harshness of the midday sun.

It also helped even out the light, so the overall exposure of the photo came out much better.

With the filter on my lens, I was able to take the above photo (in RAW) with these settings:

Canon 24mm lens on a Canon 5D Mark III

ISO 100


1/500 sec

Of course, I made sure I had a straight horizon line too.

(It’s such a simple thing, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to compose with straight horizon lines.)

I used a “loose” interpretation of the rule of thirds. ┬áThe sky is approximately the top one third of the photo, and the beach/water is the bottom two thirds.

I also used the surf line as a diagonal leading line, beginning in the bottom left corner of the frame.

Although the composition is simple, it works.

If you take photos on a regular basis, simple composition “rules” will become automatic.

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