This section is from the book "Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography", by J. B. Schriever. Also available from Amazon: Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography.
Photographing The Sea. If you have never had any previous experience of seascape work, you will at first be somewhat disturbed by the "largeness" of your subject. It is very likely that the expanse of ocean, or even of the beach, will strike you at first either as uninteresting or else an impossibility. The latter decision will be arrived at after you have developed your first seascape negatives. What has become of the tumbling waves and the turning rollers that appeared so big and fine to the eye? Surely those little ripples in the foreground of the negative are not they, and that straight, hard line of the horizon, cutting the picture in two, was not there.
470. You will find in this work, that you are contending with an entirely different proposition in sea photography than you have been accustomed to in landscape work. It will be necessary for you to exercise a greater amount of time in selection, in order that pleasing and striking seascapes may be obtained.
471. The every-day snap-shotter will find at the seaside less actual material with which to work than he will meet inland. But, while stretches of wet glistening sand and reflections are capable of the highest pictorial treatment, they require a great amount of maneuvering to secure the best point of view for pleasing composition.
Point Of Interest. Pleasing and striking effects depend often upon a well placed mass of seaweed, some broken piles, or even the reflection of a gleam of light, in conjunction with striking cloud forms that are usually to be seen in profusion during the summer season. If the sea itself is photographed alone, and rocks, piles, fishing boats, sailing yachts, etc., do not enter into the picture to form a point of interest, prominent breaking wave-crests can be watched for and utilized as the principal point, especially if you will hold your camera low so as to bring the wave above the horizon line. In many cases, however, a perfectly calm sea, rippling in over a stretch of seashore, combined with fine cloud effects, will provide materials for a very complete and satisfactory picture.
473. Fine vs. Stormy Days. - The instruction we have just given applies more particularly to beautiful days, and the work may be attempted by any one spending his holiday, with a camera, at the seaside towns which boast of a promenade, beach, pier, etc.
474. Perhaps you belong to a class of photographic enthusiasts who seek wilder scenery, or you are favored with a gale or a stormy day during your visit. If this is the case, make the most of your opportunity and catch the sea when in its tempestuous mood.
475. If the coast is rocky and the sea dashes in on the rocks, a safe position should be selected so that a drenching can be avoided by an immediate retreat, and a most likely setting for a picture selected. The incoming waves should be watched very carefully and you will soon be able to gauge where each will break. Compose the picture beforehand and have the camera all ready for exposure at the next inrush of sea. When it appears, experience gained by watching will determine the moment for exposure, - say, when the dashing spray is at its highest.