I certainly feel silly giving anyone photography advice but I’ve had enough requests and emails that I’ll throw a few tips out there. Feel free to ignore me at any time.
Whether you are using a point and shoot or a SLR camera it’s all about finding the right light. Think of photography like sunbathing– you want to avoid those hottest, brightest hours in the middle of the day. The morning and the evening are your best friends, especially on the beach where there is no shade.
On the beach you’ll need to move around standing on the shore, in the water and squatting down low to get the best light. Most kids won’t pose for you while they are playing and I don’t have any kind of zoom lens so this can be quite a trick.
Now….. digital SLR friends– let’s get technical here. I use a Canon Rebet Xt which you probably know is a entry level SLR. It’s the soccer mom camera. Happily, At $289 it’s not much more than your basic point and shoot these days.
If you are lucky enough to already own an SLR do yourself a big favor and get rid of the lens that came with it and pick up a 50mm 1.8f. It’s sweet little lens for just $85; gives you a wide camera angle and delivers a pretty sweet bokeh(background blur).
For lovely bokeh dial your aperture down as low as you dare. On this photo my aperture is 2.0 which gives me foreground and background blur.
I’ve been overexposing my beach photos with pretty good results. Your light meter is picking up on the sky and the water so I take the shutter speed down a few notches for nicely lit faces. The above photo is straight out of the camera. It’s a good exposure so I don’t have to do much to it in Photoshop.
Of course, once you are playing with aperture be sure to use selective focus points(check your manual for this). I like to focus on the corner of the eye but that’s nearly impossible with a moving child so I’m happy if the focus point lands on their head.
Morning light, evening light, squat down low, move around, wide apertures and focus points— there you go, that’s the full extent of my knowledge.