Before, During, After-The Beach

Earlier this summer, we were lucky enough to spend three days at the beach in Virginia Beach.  (The funny thing is we lived there for three years but never stepped foot in the ocean).

Not surprisingly, I wanted some beautiful photos of my kiddos playing in the ocean.  Here I want to share with you some of my thoughts before, during, and after the shoot.

Before: Getting great photos at the beach in the middle of the day is HARD.  The light is super bright, which makes squinty eyes and harsh shadows.  The other issue is the big difference between the lightest and darkest parts of the environment.  When we look at the scene, our amazing eyes and brain are able to see the super bright sky along with the faces of our kiddos in the shadows.  Our camera isn't quite advanced as us, and has trouble seeing both the super bright areas and the darker areas at the same time.  

Along with the light issues, I also had to prevent drowning kids and camera, plus I wanted to have a good time!

I decided to just do a quick session.  On the second day, I brought my camera out for just a half hour.  I made sure Dennis knew what was going on, that he was responsible for the safety of our children, and that I would be working on some photos.  

During: I set my camera to aperture priority just because I knew the lighting would be changing as I moved around. Additionally, I normally like to check exposure on the back of my camera but it's really hard to see in that super bright light.  I set my ISO down to 200, knowing there was more than enough light to get the shutter speed I needed in this situation.

I wanted genuine, playful moments of my kiddos in the water.  I did my best to interact with them as I normally would.  I was lucky that the beach was pretty empty, so I didn't have to worry about someone else's bright bikini or umbrella showing up in the background.  

I took lots of pictures, trying to keep the horizon as straight as possible when it made it in the shot.  I did my best to shoot "through" the funny moments, like when Madelyn poured water on Elyse's head.  I wanted to keep shooting to get both their reactions.

I ran into a big issue while I was shooting.  My camera just wasn't taking pictures as fast as I wanted. After talking with some friends later, I think it has to do with the speed of my memory card.  (To be honest, I didn't know there were differences in speed).  I'm going to get a faster one ASAP because it sure was frustrating to see a great shot in front of me but have a camera that was too slow to capture it.  

After: I spent just about 30 minutes with my camera, and then walked back to our condo to put it away so I could jump in the water too!

I'm pretty happy with the shots I got.  My favorite is the one where Madelyn is pouring water on Elyse.  I spent some time editing that one.  You'll see that in many of these photos, the sky is white.  It's because the sky is super bright.  Since I was exposing for the kiddos, that bright sky got "blown out" and turned all white.  In my favorite shot here, I did a little bit of editing to bring back that sky.  You can see the before and after below.  


Are you heading to the beach this summer?  Don't forget your camera!


Do you want to know what I mean by the "blown out" sky?  Why did I decide to shoot in aperture priority mode in this lighting situation?  How do we deal with super bright light like this?  Find the answers to all your questions in my workshop.  In person and online versions available.