View Full Version : Tropical Paradise Shots

Jun 21, 2007, 10:45 PM
Was wondering how to get those shots you see in the travel magazines of the beautiful beaches where the sky is bluer than blue and the water is incredibly turquoise.

Are they using some kind of filter on the lens that enhances blues and greens? Or are they enhancing the shots with software.

If it is some kind of lens filter, what kind is it?
If it's software, do you need Photoshop or the like ( I don't have it) or could the same thing be done with iPhoto?

I know almost nothing about photography and someone has just given me a digital SLR and I have the opportunity to go to a tropical beach, so I thought it would be nice to get some of those shots. Any thoughts on the best way to go about doing this?

Fuzzy Orange
Jun 21, 2007, 11:08 PM
I would say a combination of a filter, PS effects, and the area itself.

Jun 22, 2007, 12:01 AM
Which beach are you going to?

I would suggest investing in a good Circular Polarizer and learning how to use it, it makes the sky bluer but also, location is key.

If when you look out and the water isn't the nice clear turquoise then it won't be after you shoot it unless you do some major PS. I don't know if iPhoto can do these enhancements well.

Jun 22, 2007, 12:24 AM
a polarizing filter will do the trick. You need to be standing at a certain angle toward the sun to get the full effect -- but the effects are simply breathtaking.

Jun 22, 2007, 09:44 AM
A lot of "surf/beach" photos can come out rather unimpressive because of suspended water spray and high humidity. As such, a generic "weather" statement applies to a degree. However, being aware of this, you then know that its something to maintain awareness of and to work around it, such as by using a UV-B filter to cut the blue tint caused by such haze.

Some of it will also be the classical techniques of an appropriate polarizer and your relative sun position...plus just waiting for the right conditions.

For example:



The above two shots look quite different, even though they're in virtually the same basic location. Obviously, the first shot came before the second :D

They were shot ~2 days apart, hence the difference in weather conditions (cloudy vs sunny).

They were shot at different angles. The first is inside the barrier reef looking out; sun was ahead and to the left. The second was outside the same reef looking in; sun was close to dead behind.

Equipment for both was a basic digital P&S, so no filter or polarizer.


Jun 22, 2007, 12:18 PM
A polariser won't answer all your issues - it will make skies *darker* (and clouds more prominent) but that can ed up making the sky look almost black rather than the stunning blue you want.

From my experience I'd say the important things are
- location (some places do look as awesome as (or even better than) the photos of them
- time of day (not midday, generally)
- weather conditions (haze=bad)
- correct exposure (beaches etc. tend to get underexposed by default)
- careful use of levels/curves
- a slight push of the saturation of your file, depending on what your camera's settings are

Hope some of that helps.

Pic with almost no digital alteration:

Jun 22, 2007, 09:50 PM
A polariser won't answer all your issues - it will make skies *darker* (and clouds more prominent) but that can ed up making the sky look almost black rather than the stunning blue you want.

I don't agree with that 100%. Polarizers saturate the colors and filter out certain light reflections. That makes less light come through the lens (up to 2 f/stops) which means that you need to be outdoors and/or use a faster lens. It doesn't make the colors darker, certainly not a blackening effect.

Jun 22, 2007, 09:53 PM
From Wikipedia:


Jun 23, 2007, 01:20 AM
I think that we've probably gotten a little to technical, since OP is new to photography and DSLRs. Best advice is to take a BUNCH of pictures, i mean, fill your card up like CRAZY, buy a few more and just snap away to your hearts content. You'll get some great shot and some boring shots, but at least you'll have a lot to choose from and work with when editing later if you choose to.

Like others have said, try different angles, different times of day, different days, but just shoot and have a fun. If you want a circular polarizer, get one and shoot away with it, learn from the internet searches how to use one and then learn again by shooting a lot. When I first used a Circular Polarizer, I didn't take many shots and was disappointed in what came out, in the viewfinder it looked great, but on the computer it was bland. Just shoot a lot and have fun. I mean you're going to a tropical beach! photographing it is just the extra bonus! You'll end up with some shots you are happy with.

Also, what beach are you going to?

Jun 27, 2007, 07:41 PM
^ ^ I'm with all of you. Best plan is to take lots of photos and experiment with different camera settings. After all, it's digital and you only pay for the shots you print! Trust me, though... don't get your heart set on that awesome pic you think you shot unless you're going to brush up on some post-processing skills with a good app. like Photoshop.;)