5 Dramatic Seascape Photographs – And the Settings Used to Take Them



ISO 200, 22mm, f/8, 1/160 sec


ISO 200, 12mm, f/10, 1.3 sec.


ISO 200, 12mm, f/10, .8 sec


ISO 200, 14mm, f/10, 10 sec.


ISO 200, 17mm, f/13, 18 sec.

All photographs were taken using a graduated neutral density filter (to darken the sky so the ground could be exposed without losing the color in the sky) and a tripod.  Image stabilization was turned off because I was using the tripod.  White balance was either set to auto or adjusted depending on results of test photographs, it’s important to try different settings to emphasize certain colors in the sky during sunrise and sunset.

The biggest challenge when taking seascape photographs was the salt spray from the crashing waves, after about 10 photographs the lens would be covered in specs of salt water.  When taking longer exposure photographs, anything on the lens will be emphasized by the light reflecting off of it.  Try to use a lens filter for the first ten and then remove for the last ten to give yourself some extra time taking photographs before having to clean your lens.  Enjoy.

More from John Barbiaux
Photo Journal
The Photo Journal is where we will feature one of your (the...
Read More
3 replies on “5 Dramatic Seascape Photographs – And the Settings Used to Take Them”
  1. says: BeckyDeSantis

    These are gorgeous photos, John, thanks for sharing them and the camera data. This is so helpful. Could you point out where in the photograph you used as your focal point? Did you use an app to determine hyperfocal distance? I have an app for this but I haven’t quite figure out how to use it!!

    1. says: John Barbiaux

      I’d love to tell you I used a calculator and ruler to figure out the exact hyper-focal distance but in reality I just followed the rule of thumb of 1/3 of the way into a scene. As long as you don’t focus in front of the hyper-focal distance the photo should be acceptable. For a few of those I also took the same shot at different apertures to make sure I got one that would be sharp enough. Hope that helps.

    2. @BeckyDeSantis Becky,
      sorry for the delay, I tried to respond while I was in Hawaii but my phone was not cooperating.  I did not calculate the hyperfocal distance for any of the shots, instead I focus about a third of the way up the frame for each shot (an acceptable alternative for most shots).  Just to be sure I had a workable photograph I did adjust the aperture a few times (aperture bracketing) for the same shot. 
      I too have an app that determines hyperfocal distance but have only used it occasionally.  I also keep a chart for my camera and favorite lens that I printed from the web (I got it from the same site I recommended in an article I wrote about hyperfocal distance, if you do a quick search on this site for hyperfocal distance it should pull it up).  Anyways, the app on your phone and a pre printed chart for your lens are the most accurate ways to determine where to focus followed by the focus a third of the way up approach combined with aperture bracketing (just my opinion).  I had neither my phone or the chart with me at the time so I winged it.

Comments are closed.