Do you have a favorite type of picture you want take when in Costa Rica? When you visit Costa Rica, we can almost guarantee that wherever it was before, your new favorite landscape will be the beaches! The beaches in Costa Rica are known worldwide as being some of the most beautiful beaches on earth.
But if you have ever been to a beach before with your camera you know that there can be several challenges with photographing in such a beautiful location. Just for starters, the sand! So wonderful to soak your toes into but a pain in the butt when you get sand in the little nooks and crannies of your camera.
Then you have to worry about not just your equipment, but you have to be very mindful of your settings due to your location. I’ve put together a few tips and tricks on how to best photograph the beaches of Costa Rica.
1. Bring a Lens Hood
Due to the large amount of light coming and bouncing off of every surface on the beach, you will need something to help contain how much light is being captured in your images without over or underexposing the photos and needing to do a lot of post-production editing later.
A lens hood is a great tool to use for precisely this; you’ll be able to cut back on the haze in your images seriously.
There is a lot of light on the beach. I know that is kind of stating the obvious, isn’t it? That isn’t what I mean. Yes, it is sunny and tends to stay sunny for most of the day, but what I meant is as I mentioned above, the sunlight is also reflecting off the sand, the water, and the seashells.
You are going to have a lot of variable situations with additional light sources or “hot spots” that can appear in your image.
The best way to avoid this ruining all your shots is to bracket every single time. No, not every shot, but if you change directions, focal lengths, angles. With these kinds of changes, you will find that the settings you had facing into the sunlight will have to change if you are now facing away.
3. Spot Metering
Spot metering is a beautiful tool to use when you are photographing on the beach, especially on the beautiful ones you’ll find in Costa Rica. This way, you are able to expose to your subject’s skin or color hue rather than the surrounding areas.If you choose to use “matrix metering,” you might find that your subject is blown out or overexposed because of all the additional light.
4. Keep an Eye on the Horizon
The most important point about the horizon is to keep it level. Often times when looking at sunset or sunrise photo at that beach you will see the horizon tilting either left or right. Don’t let this happen to you.
Many of the latest model cameras will have a option to show you a level in the viewfinder or on the back screen. Make use of this and your beach photography will improve instantly. It also saves time in post production and leveling out the photo.
One other tip that most people don’t think about when they are photographing on the beach Costa Rica, is when you have the horizon going across someone’s face or neck or at an angle, the whole image begins to look choppy. So keep your eye on the horizon when you are shooting to ensure that you have more “flowing” lines in your image rather than “sharp” lines.
5. Photographing on Crowded Beaches
The best tip I can share other than the advice about bracketing. Actually, they have all been pretty solid, but you know what I am getting at. Unless you know you are shooting at a private beach or that you are going when the beach tends to be empty, like in Costa Rica during Siesta (because it tends to be when it is hottest), you need to be prepared to photograph and work around strangers.
This tip will do more with angles. It is not impossible to capture amazing photos on the beach even when there are lots of people. However, it is more challenging!
You might want to scout for a less populated area and if that doesn’t work you are going to have to be creative with your angles to remove or lessen the number of people in your shot.
6. Be Mindful of Your Gear
This is advice on a few levels. Pickpockets tend to hang out on the beach in Costa Rica and wait for people to walk away from their personal items. I also am referring to a point I made earlier about the sand.
It is far too easy for sand to get into your bag, and then when you are changing lenses, you hear that awful CRUNCH sound of sand being ground into the sensitive cavity of your camera.
Or even worse – you get caught up in a perfect photographed moment, and suddenly you are dropping your bag into the ocean! Maybe add an extra strap when you are carrying your gear on the beach for safety.
7. Time Changes
If you are traveling to Costa Rica, you might be experiencing a little jet lag yourself; however, I am referring to the golden and blue hours for this tip. Due to the abundance of light that I’ve mentioned a few times in this article, you will need to plan for this time change if you want to shoot at either blue hours or golden hours.
The golden hours start earlier and last longer (in my opinion is always a good thing), and the blue hours begin much earlier and last shorter than average.
Even with the time difference, you do not want to miss the additional color that these magnificent hours will bring to your photography when you are traveling to Costa Rica and capturing images on the beach.
When working with new locations and situations you’ve never photographed before, you will want to allow yourself more time to capture the images you want to immortalize in your travel memories forever.
Give yourself more time, and then the biggest tip I can give you – HAVE FUN! You are in a fantastic country with outstanding beaches, have a blast! And of course, I recommend that you take lots of pictures!
Where should I buy camera equipment for a trip to Costa Rica?
I get asked this question often. There are two places where I buy my cameras, lenses and other accessories: Amazon and B&H Photo. My best advice is to get a camera that fits your budget and style from one of the big 4 manufacturers, Canon, Fuji, Nikon or Sony.