Impressionist Photography, part 2: Sea Dreams

Last summer a visit to the famous gardens of Claude Monet inspired me to create some “impressionistic” images. I also shared some tips and techniques on how to add an impressionist touch to your photographs without using digital manipulation.

My recent trip to Florida gave me new inspiration for impressionistic photographs. Sunsets on a beach were a wonderful experience. The play of light and the color patches on the water reminded me of the dreamy palette of impressionist painters.

So here are my “impressions of the sea” and new photography tips. Click on the images to view them larger.

Impressionistic style photograph of sea waves using long exposure.

Impressionistic style photograph of sea waves using long exposure.Impressionistic style photograph of sea waves using long exposure. Impressionistic style photograph of sea waves using long exposure. Impressionistic style photograph of sea waves using long exposure.

Moving water is great for experimenting with longer exposure. That means you would need a camera that allows manual shooting mode. You can choose a very short shutter speed to freeze the movement or longer shutter speed to “collect” the movement. This is exactly what I did in the images above.

I wanted to reach the effect of soft brush strokes: so I chose exposures between one quarter of a second and one second. Longer exposure would make the water look entirely smooth and fog-like.

I did not have a tripod with me so these photos are hand-held. Usually, you want to avoid any camera shake – but in this case a little motion blur would only contribute to the painterly and ethereal effect. You can either deliberately move your camera or hold it steady to limit the movement.

It fascinates me how flowing lines, highlights and colors create random surface textures on the water and sand. Again, there was very little post-processing involved in these images – just some contrast adjustment and a little extra saturation.

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