Review PA Photo-Walk The Netherlands/Zeeland/Walcheren – working with waves

Holidays at the seaside usually mean that photos of the sea and waves are taken. Over here I’d like to show you some examples from our photowalk on how to work differently and get some other impressions.

There is quite a lot that can be done.

Besides working with waves/the sea means quite a lot of problems as well, no matter about the gear that is used. One has to be faster than lightning very often and very often it’s nothing but a failure. Thus there are some tips and tricks in this report as well.

Let’s start with this example:


As it is common at the coastline of The Netherlands breakwaters is one part of the very many means of protection against the North Sea. The Netherlands need a strong protection because most of the country is even below the waterline and would be flooded otherwise, especially in times of storms.

It is always fascinating to watch how the breakwaters break the waves. As well as it is most frustrating to take a shot of this. Although one could work with a high ISO in order to get the breaking wave sharp, this doesn’t help at all, when you miss the right moment. As well as it doesn’t help to watch the waves breaking for some time before one actually starts to shoot. Each wave is individual and each one breaks differently. So most of the time you either press the shutter release too early or too late and even if you have managed to get the right moment, it often happens that the wave doesn’t break the way you wanted it to be.

Over here one has to know that the waves make the composition and you can call yourself lucky, if you get the right second and the wave breaks nicely. Mostly you need a lot of memory space and often enough one doesn’t get the perfect shot. Patience, time and memory space are the magic words while working with waves like this.

It is more difficult to get a breaking wave at a breakwater when you want to have it filling the frame as such. Thus if you like to try working with water this way, try first to show more of the surrounding together with the breaking wave.

Another example:


The problems are about the same, especially when there are waves coming in from all sides and very differently. It often happens that one concentrates on one part of the shore and thinks one might get the shot over there, meanwhile at another part of the shore the waves are suddenly brilliant. But as soon as you change your position to this part, they stop to be brilliant and appear much better at the part you have just left.

If you don’t have huge waves, it helps to position the camera as low as possible. It also helps to concentrate on one wave and try to shoot it filling the frame.

As can be seen in the background of this photo, there are reflections on the water. It is the sunlight which appears as little round circles over here, because the background is blurred.

Now look here:


This is a completely different photo of  waves. It’s experimental photography – creating an abstract composition with forms and lightness. To get such a result you’ll have to adjust the camera to the manual focus and then turn the focusing ring of you lens until you can see everything blurred through the viewfinder. You also need sunlight on the water, reflections of the sunlight. With the waves moving all the time, you’ll get different compositions, the round circles can be anywhere in the photo, depending on the moment you pressed the shutter release.

Another kind of working is this one:


Over here I used a grey filter in order to get a long exposure time. You might also try to set the ISO very low and/or adjust a small aperture. It depends on the weather conditions and the natural light. It needs some experimenting, also depending on the amount of softness and blur you’d like the photo to have. And it depends on the speed of the waves as well, so at least, concerning this, nature is back again in creating the composition too.

Now this one:


– a typical example on how the natural lighting effects a photo. You need some stroke of luck to get into such a situation, one never knows whether such a lighting situation appears or not. But especially on days with changing weather conditions one should always watch out for special lighting situations and then react quickly.

Further on this is a photo showing one of the autumn storms (over here it is only a little one) differently. The camera was positioned very low, the composition is based on “less is more”.

And finally these two examples over here:



Both photos are based on compositions with forms and lines.

While the first one is more common and more of the waves can be seen although only washing out at the shore, the second one is already very close to an abstract composition. And there are no waves any more, just the remains of them – a little bit of water left behind in small pools and on the surface of the sand, reflecting the light.

Some final tips and tricks:

Photographing waves is really fascinating. If you are close to them always watch out that you aren’t suddenly sitting in the water – the range of waves on a beach e.g. is underestimated quickly and fascination makes forget you easily to pay attention.

Waves always look greater and higher when you position you camera quite low – try to avoid positions shooting from above, at least from high above.

Breaking waves and windy or even stormy weather conditions are perfect for photos, but watch out for the foam! It can be carried over long distances and especially when the water is salty your gear doesn’t really like to get in touch with it. Salt water is aggressive, clean your gear afterwards!

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