Three Tips for Mastering Seascape Compositions

Seascapes are one of the most imaginative sub-genres of landscape photography. It’s challenging enough to create a compelling landscape image when “what you see is what you get,” but with the energetic waves constantly changing a sizable portion of the composition, seascapes can be incredibly difficult.

Last week, Nigel Danson shared some great winter photography tips, and this week he continues with seascapes in Vik, Iceland. Seascapes can be a potential treasure trove: by leaving your tripod put and simply adjusting shutter speeds, you can capture five stunning variations of the same scene. Or you might end up with five shots that look busy at fast shutter speeds and boring at longer ones.

Seascapes take some imagination, and as Danson mentions there’s incredible potential because water cuts out all the usual distractions in the composition. It’s up to you to add exactly what the image needs, so you have to exercise your imagination a bit to envision what it could look like, then time the waves to match your vision.

The sea stacks at Reynisfjara near Vik, Iceland. I tried several angles with the beach, but the composition didn’t settle until I picked a faster shutter speed.

I still struggle to imagine what a seascape could look like, so many of the more interesting seascapes in my portfolio came from equal parts effort and luck. But like astrophotography, the best way to learn is through failure, and in time those intuitions will develop.

Jonathan Lee Martin's picture

Jonathan Lee Martin is a fine art landscape photographer, educator and globetrotting digital nomad. He’s traveling the world for a year to discover unique landscapes and help fellow landscape photographers lighten their load to go further.

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