Living in Australia has many benefits. One of the best? Our whole country is surrounded by the ocean. I have been lucky enough to grow up on the New South Wales coast, in a place called the Northern Beaches. This stretch of coastline alone is enough to make people travel the distance all the way down under. The crystallised waters of the south, to the warmer temperatures of the north, make travelling up and down this state enjoyable all year round. It is the perfect area to shoot the ocean. Especially with an aerial perspective.
Best time to shoot
No matter what time of the year it is, I always prefer shooting in the morning. In the golden hour. This is that mesmerising time, just after the sun rises when daylight is soft and the sky has red tones throughout. This time is perfect, especially for an aerial photographer like myself.
If you’re looking to shoot some waves in New South Wales, the best time of year would be during winter, when the waves get much larger with predominant south swells. You have the opportunity to get some really cool surfing shots during this time and if you’re lucky, you may even capture some humpback whales on their migration north to warmer waters.
How to capture the cleanest water
Capturing the cleanest water is going to be when the light is shining at it’s lowest point, in golden hour. It seems to just lighten up the ocean floor, giving you a lot less glare and over exposed photos.
It’s also important to always shoot in manual. If you don’t know how, go out and practice, read a book or even watch some YouTube videos. That’s what I did!
A really obvious point to mention is to get away from populated beaches. Even though they look like they may be clean, you can get a lot more clarity just by heading north or south a couple of hours from the main cities, it doesn’t matter where you are.
Tips for shooting the ocean
Get up early
You’ll be sure to miss the crowds. If you’re not an early riser grab a coffee on you way out. You’ll never be a late riser again once you experience these beautiful areas with no one around.
Bring a towel for take off
This has to be one of my most important tips. The beach is sandy! It get’s everywhere. Make sure you have a nice big towel to protect all of your equipment from those pesky little grains.
Carry a sturdy backpack that holds all of your supplies
My Manfrotto backpack is by far the best backpack I have used. It holds all of my gear including my laptops, through to my portable power pack (just incase I need to recharge a couple of batteries), both my drones – the DJI Mavic and the Phantom 4 Pro, plus much, much more!
Watch out for birds – these guys will take you down
This is a serious factor not to be ignored. They will come from nowhere and catch you by surprise when you least expect it.
Know where you can fly
Make sure you download an app that’s going to give you information on where you can and can’t fly. This will avoid any unwanted attention from the local rangers (which could really hurt your pocket). I like to use the Can I Fly There? App. Remember, you’re sharing airspace with helicopters and planes so you really want to make sure you are doing the right thing and flying safe.
Shooting the ocean is one of the most amazing parts of nature to shoot. It is always changing, providing endless shapes, colours and angles to get creative with. You can always take on a new perspective and try something different.