How these Seascape Photographs were Made

Peaceful Seascape Photograph - Ipperwash #1

Peaceful Seascape Photograph - Ipperwash #1

I get a ton of questions about how I make my seascape photographs. And I have to admit, I’m always hesitant to share the details, I feel like I’m giving away some sort of secret recipe. It makes me feel like I’m revealing too much of the magic and it scares me. Because this, our studio, is my baby and I’m afraid of what could happen. Everyone tells me that if something scares me then it’s definitely something I should do in order to grow. So here goes.

The effect that you see in my seascape photographs was created entirely in camera using a long exposure.

These images were made when the sky was dark; I get up ridiculously early in the morning, 4 am sometimes, or I go out late in the evening after the sun has set. I use a tripod and I leave the shutter on my camera open for anywhere from one to sixteen minutes, which is what smooths out the waves and creates the look of fog.

The only work that I do in Photoshop is to retouch the dust that inevitably gets everywhere when photographing on the beach.

So there you have it, now you know. Tell me, have my photographs lost their magic or have they gained more?

17 thoughts on “How these Seascape Photographs were Made

  1. Chris says:

    Jennifer, you forgot to mention the countless hours spent looking for the ideal location and the number of times you return to that location to get the right kind of light, or lack there of. All of this effort and skill show in your work. Your images are beautiful!

  2. Kimberly Yap says:

    I think most people have that problem of whether or not they should share their secret recipe to everyone else. To actually say it is really motivating and inspiring. I find your photographs lovely. They have that magical calming effect of beauty, serenity and bliss. Thank you for sharing!

    • Jennifer says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words Kimberly! I hope in sharing this not-so-secret-recipe I’ll grow as a photographer. Hope to see you around!

  3. Risamay says:

    No magic lost! They’re still lovely as ever. And as a fellow photog, I already knew your well documented recipe (: I think that as the price of fancy cams continues to come down, more and more people are discovering photography and eager to learn the age-old recipes that many of us already know about. If you hadn’t highlighted the technique here, it’s easy enough to find with a little Googling. But bravo for tackling your fear of sharing. I would say that if you did come up with a truly secret recipe, go ahead and guard it. At least for a while. I would!

  4. Steph says:

    These are glorious. Simply glorious. I’m in the GTA (Toronto area) right now and have been rather uninspired by a lack of things to photograph. I guess having grown up here I take a lot of what I see for granted. These have definitely made me rethink that, and I’m planning a photo shoot this weekend! If the first winter storm of the season fails to materialize, that is. An early-riser myself, I would love to try long exposures before the sun comes up. Thanks so much for the post!
    PS – just found you via the new Wayfare magazine, which is pretty stupendous itself.

  5. Shirley says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I really want to give you props for sharing your technique because I too hesitate when giving away tips, tricks or techniques that I have worked so hard to develop. It’s definitely difficult. At the same time, I have so much respect for people who are so generous enough as to share, as you did here. I just want you to know that it is really inspirational and thank you for helping me get over myself and just share more!

    • Jennifer says:

      It took me a really long time to press the “post” button on this piece. Part of me thought that if it’s something that scares me, then it’s something I should definitely do. The other part of me knew that I could only grow from this experience. Thank you for your support!

      • Shirley says:

        You are really onto something there, with the comment about fear. I hope only good things have come from pressing “post”! 🙂

    • Jennifer says:

      Ya, 4 am can be quite rough, good thing I’ve got an amazing husband to make sure I have a nice warm cup of hot chocolate. The beach is definitely a magical place at that hour.

  6. Laura Evans says:

    they have gained way more magic for me … because they’re so simple & it’s all skill with you! I am determined that one day i will shoot with you so i can you in action, creating your magic! ps. i may have to test out your lighting tip one day!

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