Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Adventures in Photography: Cape Cod National Seashore

Cape Cod National Seashore is one of New England’s most beautiful landscapes. Miles of sandy beaches make it a top summer tourist destination. This popularity makes finding a picturesque stretch of coastline without someone running through your shot, quite a challenge. However, if you visit during a “cold” weather month like March or April, it is quite possible that you will have mile after mile of this sandy paradise all to yourself.

Start at the Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham and get oriented with the nearly 45,000 acres of beaches, salt marshes and sand dunes that Cape Cod has to offer. The rangers at the visitor center can supply a photographer with invaluable information. Afterwards head down Ocean Drive and visit Coast Guard or Nauset Light Beach.

Photographing at the beach offers a variety of opportunities. Crashing waves, seashells, sand patterns, and sand dunes are some of the most readily available options. Be careful of where you walk and try not to step on fragile vegetation. Anticipate where your next shot will be to avoid stepping in the sand near your subject.

For interesting water shots, leave your shutter open for ten seconds or longer. The crashing waves will blur, creating an ethereal effect. Make sure to use a tripod and try to include interesting non-moveable objects, like rocks or lobster traps, to anchor your image.

Seashells offer many interesting opportunities. Try experimenting with many different angles and f stops. Use the color, shape and texture of the shell to contrast against the sand. Bright sunlight shining through the shell can highlight the colors and add an interesting perspective to your image. Don’t be afraid to lie in the sand to get an up close and unique perspective.

If visiting the beach on a cold day doesn’t appeal to you, you can still avoid the crowds by getting an early start on a summer’s day. Some of the best light of the day happens before dawn. The pre-dawn sky often provides tremendous color. Photographing the rising sun is a truly fantastic experience that everyone should have at least once. Take care not to stare directly at the sun. Especially not through a camera lens that can magnify the strength of already powerful sunlight.

After sunrise, try turning your back to the sun to take advantage of the soft light that it plays upon the land. Early morning is considered to be a magic hour for photographers. The warm golden light adds fantastic color and contrast to your images. The best part is that you will likely be on your own to commune with nature.

This Month’s Photo Tip: After photographing at the beach, gently wash your camera and tripod to remove any stray sand and especially salt that may corrode your equipment. Dampen a lens cloth with lens cleaning fluid and gently wipe down the camera. This will keep your camera in good condition for years to come

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