Showcasing the world from above opens up a new perspective of natural patterns and colours. When it comes to coastlines and in particular beaches you’ve got glistening water, shining sand and views that you would never see from the ground just waiting to be photographed.
Whether you’re climbing a mountain or flying in a helicopter it’s important to have the correct settings when working with a bright canvas like sand.
On a sunny day you’ll need to be careful of your exposure compensation to ensure the sand isn’t blown out and white. This can be very hard to correct later with editing as most of the detail will be lost!
When you’re taking photos from above in strong sunlight it’s best to take a few test shots to see what your camera is seeing.
If the image is looking a little too much like a teeth whitening commercial, tone it down a notch by adjusting your ISO and exposure levels.
Also be sure to keep an eye out for shadows within the landscape, always focus on the brightest part of the scene so your camera.
I like to start with a standard bunch of settings and then work from there depending on the light conditions.
My standard sand/beach settings are:
ISO: 100 or 400 (if you’re in a moving helicopter/plane)
Exposure time: 1/500th
Exposure Compensation: +0.7
Take a peek below at some example images, the settings used are noted in the captions.
Aerial Image: Settings Used – f/4.5, ISO 640, 1/4000, 0 step exp, Focal Length 50mm.
Aerial Beach Photo: Settings Used – ISO 640, F/4.5, 1/6400 sec, 0 step exposure, Focal Length 52mm.
Aerial Coastal Landscape: Settings Used – ISO 400, f/10, 1/400sec, +0.3 exposure, focal length 42mm.
Aerial Beach Photo: Settings Used – ISO 500, f/11, 1/500 sec, +0.7 exposure, focal length 145mm.
Hello! I’m the founder and photographer behind The Wandering Lens. With 14+yrs experience as a professional travel and landscape photographer, all advice found on this site is from my personal experience on the road. I hope it’s useful for your own travels and would love to hear in the comments about your trips and experiences around the world.
I'm Lisa Michele Burns, a professional photographer and founder of The Wandering Lens from Australia. Welcome to your guide to photographing the world, improving your photography and scouting unique and inspiring places to experience with your camera. Click here to start exploring popular guides + articles. After four years online, The Wandering Lens has turned into the leading publisher of photography focused travel guides!