Beach Notes

So. Going to the beach and bringing my camera is a no-no, unless I have:

  1. Sunscreen.
  2. Either shady areas or an off-camera flash.

So here’s why. Today was the first day of good weather in Toronto. And here is model Danielle on the beach (Hanlan’s Beach in Toronto), the way a good photographer without flashes or reflectors might have captured her:

That is fine – well exposed, well composed, well focused. Which is all you can hope for. Great stuff.

But perhaps a tad boring, no?

How about this instead? An artistic, dramatic portrait?

Taken at the same time. Yes – “bright pixels are sharp pixels”.

And I did this like this:


  1. I exposed for a dark, saturated background.
  2. To this end, my camera was on manual at 1/250th sec at f/14, 125 ISO.
  3. Then I used a speedlight, set to half power, (manual), fired by pocketwizards, to light the subject.
  4. The speedlight was off camera, at an angle of almost 90 degrees.
  5. Yes and I held another such speedlight in my hand – photography is hard work.

What could be easier? A speedlight can do this in bright sunlight if unmodified . A strobe would be needed if I wanted to use an umbrella or softbox.

Seeing nude women on the beach, a man came up and chatted. “I like to lean, but I am told you cannot take good pictures in sun”, he kept telling me. “Yes you can. if you know and use flash”, I kept telling him. “No, cannot take good pictures in sun, shadow will be bad, light will be harsh”, he kept telling me. Yeah, right on for not listening. Yes, you can do great images in direct sunny 16 sunlight. All you need is flash knowledge and equipment.  It’s what I spend my life teaching and evangelizing.

One more shot:

No photoshopping: that is how I shot it!

Oh.. and about the sunscreen?

I. Forgot.

Yes, even though I brought it, I forgot to apply it – forgot, I kid you not. So now the aloe vera cream to mitigate the pain. Hey, I know about photography, but in life I still make beginners’ mistakes. I can teach you photography (, but please do not ask me to teach you life.  I know when I am beaten – ouch!


1 thought on “Beach Notes

  1. Get the SPF 60 stuff that does not wash off when swimming, apply 2 coats, liberally, an hour apart before leaving home. You should be good for the day. It even works for a full day in Florida sun.
    Remember to drink water so you don’t become dehydrated.

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