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Best Camera Settings for Beach Portraits

30A & rosemary beach photographer

Best Camera Settings for Beach Portraits

Headed to the beach? Looking for the best camera settings for beach portraits? Also, in easy to understand, not super technical lingo? You’re in the right place!

As a full time 30a photographer, I have photographed in every lighting condition possible. Harsh sun, bright sun, overcast, super dark, and everything in between. If you have a nice camera and want to take your shot at photographing some family photos on the beach, here are some of the best camera settings for beach portraits using the three most important settings, the love triangle.




* the

love

triangle

—aperture, shutter, & iso—



Aperture

1. The lower the f number = more light in the camera, more blurry the background, smallest plane of focus.


Shutter Speed

2. The Faster the shutter speed, the quicker your image freezes (less blur), but less light enters the camera.


ISO

3. The lower your ISO (100) the less light it’ll bring into the camera. The higher the ISO (1000), the more light it will bring into the camera.


My light secrets:

F2……..ISO 400 (ish)…..Shutter: 1/500 (ish)


Set your Aperture First

Aperture is the f number that you’ll see floating around on your lenses. I usually shoot all of my portraits on f2.

  1. The lower the f number = more light in the camera, more blurry the background, smallest plane of focus

Ideally, the lower the aperture, the better for portraits.

Most kit lenses only go down to f3.5-5.6 (meaning as you zoom, your aperture will go up or down). You can set your camera to manual and set it as low as it will go.

Focus Plane: Think about a family of 4 standing in a line together. If your aperture is set to f2 and one person decides to step forward so they aren’t all in a line, the remaining group will not be in focus. You will however have a beautiful blurry background.




This image shows dad further behind his kiddo. I focused on dad because we could see his face, but the little boy is out of focus.

Landscape photographers usually shoot at high f-stops because they want most of the image to be in focus.


Then set Shutter Speed based on motion.

Shutter speed is the rate at which the camera snaps the photo. Time to use all those fractions you learned about in elementary school. Shutter speeds are set like this: 1/250, 1/5000 etc.

Now which shutter is faster?….1/250 or 1/5000? If you answered 1/5000, you’re correct!

2. The Faster the shutter speed, the quicker your image freezes (less blur), but less light enters the camera.

Shutter is the second step in the love triangle. Once I set my aperture to f2, I generally set my shutter speed to 1/500 for family portraits.

What happens when you need more light? You can slow down your shutter speed. Anything slower than 1/250 (1/60 etc) will have motion blur if the subject is moving. You can see the blur of the kids in the next photo, because they were moving faster than the shutter. This is a super cute shot to do at weddings and family portraits.

If it is super bright, I can raise my shutter speed to freeze the image faster and allow less light in camera) or I can adjust my ISO. (see next step)


ISO = light dimmer

Up and down…..

3. The lower your ISO (100) the less light it’ll bring into the camera. The higher the ISO (1000), the more light it will bring into the camera.

But – the higher the ISO the more grain you will have.

All cameras have a sweet spot ISO meaning they let in the most colors and dimension so I like to set my camera ISO to 400.

These are settings for sunset/blue hour when the sun has gone down passed the horizon. This is for soft light portraits where you can see the sky, the water, and your subjects.

Don’t forget. These settings are AFTER the sun has gone down passed the horizon or is overcast (no shadows) near sunset time. I hope it is helpful to you! If you take some beach photos with these settings/tips, I’d love to hear from you!






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