Let’s take better waves in your seascape photographs: here’s three tips

As featured on Conservation Mag:

High waves at Kalk Bay, Cape Town. 1/1000th second at f5.6 on ISO 100. Photo Jay Caboz

As a working photographer, nothing quite beats being out in nature with a seascape in front of you and a camera in hand.  Whether the ocean is wild with thundering white waves or standing peacefully still so clear that you can stare into its depths, I feel a deep connection with the spaces where land and water meet.

Believe me, capturing a seascape is as challenging as they get – there’s sea spray, there’s slippery rocks, and to top it all off, if you aren’t looking a rogue wave can leave you drenched with a flooded camera.

When looking at those waves in front of you it makes a huge difference to think about what type of shots you would like to get.

Seascapes are all about capturing waves in motion, and for that, controlling your shutter speed is critical – so now is the perfect time to cast off your reliance on auto and turn your dial to shutter priority and manual modes.

Once you start understanding that certain waves can produce certain shots, it makes approaching your compositions much easier. I like to divide the types of ocean shots into 3 categories: long wispy exposures, wave trails (mid-level exposures) and freeze motion (fast exposures)

Key to this is going out and taking a few minutes to really look at what the ocean is doing. As you notice ocean is in constant flux and depending on the season and tide a coastline can change quite dramatically. From where the water is touching to where the light is touching the waves can be doing completely different.

Since I started thinking more about what the waves are doing, and how I can use shutter speeds to enhance that motion, my images took a leap in quality – so give it a go with these helpful strategies to improve your shooting waves.

Freeze Motion

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High waves at Kalk Bay, Cape Town. 1/1000th second at f5.6 on ISO 100. Photo Jay Caboz

These are fast shutter speeds anywhere 1/60 to 1/2000 and faster. At these speeds, you wouldn’t need a tripod. These are perfect speeds for catching massive waves as they roll harbour walls and lighthouses.

Timing for these shots is essential. Try to capture the wave at its apex for that wow moment and look for objects that can provide a sense of scale for maximum effect. Don’t be afraid to set your camera onto burst mode and shoot dozens of frames.

Wave trails – mid-level exposures

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Low tide at Banty Bay, Cape Town. 0,8 second at f8 on ISO 100. Photo Jay Caboz

Wave trail wave-type shots require shorter exposures but still require a tripod. You can typically get them shooting at shutter speeds of 1/20 – 2 seconds, depending on how ferocious the waves are. These types of shots are perfect for capturing waves as they swirl in-between rocks or up long empty beaches.

I typically shoot seascapes in these zones convey a sense of motion and a sense of power. Pay attention to the where foam flows to make for one-of-a-kind abstract shapes as they swirl around objects.

Long exposure shutter speed for wispy waves

Long exposure shutter speed for wispy waves

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Long exposure at Camps Bay Tidal pool, Cape Town. 30 second at f11 on ISO 50. Photo Jay Caboz

It’s one of the questions you get asked quite a lot as a landscape photographer – how do I get those cool wispy waves? – and it’s not as difficult to replicate as people think.

These types of shots are perfect for capturing minimalist piers and isolated boats and perfect reflections in tidal pools.  

The trick is you need a tripod or solid place to balance your camera because you are going to be dealing with very slow shutter speeds and don’t want your camera to move at all.

Once you’ve found a good perch, set your ISO down to 100 and then start working your shutter speed to 5 seconds and/or longer. Then balance out your aperture. At sunset, you should be able to shoot at f-stops of f8-f16, depending on the light.  

What you are trying to do is capture the movement of the waves over these long exposure times which gives the waves their wispy movement. Because the rest of the elements in your image are for the most part stationary, the waves will move in and out of the shot and create abstract motions.

Depending on the capabilities of your camera you typically push this to 30 seconds. But you can go way beyond that if you shoot on BULB mode and hook your phone up to a remote trigger. Most cameras these days come with an in-built wi-fi so you can even hook your camera up to your phone to do the same thing.  

Bonus advice – look at purchasing ND filters

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Sunset at Slangkop lighthouse, Cape Town. 1,3 second at f13 on ISO 100. Photo Jay Caboz

One thing you will immediately notice when attempting wave trails or wispy waves is that your photos will come out white and overexposed, especially during the day. Why? Well, it’s too bright and your camera might not be able to make its aperture small enough to reduce the amount of light hitting your sensor. 

If you are having trouble with that, it’s time for you to invest in ND filters, which will help reduce the light the camera sensors pick up, as a pair of sunglasses do on a sunny day at the beach.

You can buy them at your local camera shop, but they are a pricey investment, I would recommend as a starting point looking for 3 stops – ND filter and even a 0.9 soft graduated filter if you can. I would recommend visiting ORMS or else Landscape Gear if you are based in Cape Town or Kameraz in JHB for more.

As someone that doesn’t like editing my images in Photoshop investing in a decent set of filters was one of the single best investments I have ever made.

Still, if you aren’t shooting during the day, shooting at sunset or into the evening are great times to experiment with long exposure shutter speeds.

5 of the best tidal pools in Cape Town

St James tidal pool – Photo Jay Caboz

As you may know I am quite obsessed with tidal pools. So I made a list of some of my favourite ones.

If you are interested in seeing more image please visit my website, which has a whole gallery dedicated to the tidal pools of Cape Town.

Story featured on Conservation Mag:

Source: Conservation Mag

As any Capetonian worth their salt will tell you, Cape Town, or the Mother City as locals call it, is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world for holiday goers seeking adventure outdoors. Cape Town is also fortunate to be host to a fantastic array of 20 unique tidal pools dotted along the Atlantic Ocean (West) and False Bay (East) coastline.

Within just a few minutes’ drive visitors and locals alike can access some of the most spectacular vistas nature has to offer from vibrant fynbos on Table Mountain all the way to Clifton’s pristine white beaches.

Cape Town is also fortunate to be host to a fantastic array of 20 unique tidal pools dotted along the Atlantic Ocean (West) and False Bay (East) coastline.

The tidal pools offer a refuge for swimmers that want to escape the wild waves of the Atlantic as well as its notorious gusty south easter winds.

Here on summer days locals gather for a cool refreshing dip and are the perfect spot for families to grab a snorkel and mask to swim alongside small schools of fish, plenty of anemones, nudibranchs and starfish hanging about on its walls.

Even in winter, when the weather is cooler, you can find a host of swim-risers, that take morning dips before work. In fact, winter is one of the best seasons to check out the marine life, as the pools are less disturbed allowing small ecosystems to thrive. 

What makes Cape Town’s pools even more unique is that many of them are environmentally managed and by the end of 2020, all tidal pools managed by the City of Cape Town will be cleaned using eco-friendly methods – primarily high-pressure hoses and chalk paint, Business Insider South Africa reports.

This follows a project spearheaded by local free diver Lisa Beasley, the founder of Cape Town Tidal Pools, who has been experimenting with eco-friendly cleaning methods at the Dalebrook, St James, Kalk Bay and Woolley’s tidal pools since 2016.

So, whilst you contemplate sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the fresh salty ocean breezes and sounds of squawking seagulls, here are some tidal pools we recommend you check out:

Dalebrook, Off Main Road, Kalk Bay

Dalebrook tidal pool. Photo Jay Caboz.

Dalebrook can be found in Kalk Bay and is accessible by public parking off Main Road on the False Bay side of Cap Town. This was one of the first tidal pools in Cape Town to be cleaned using environmentally friendly methods.

It is ideally located to protect swimmers from the Cape’s notorious gusty ‘south easter’ making it a popular bathing spot for locals in the area. It also features benches and a small beach for picnics, with plenty of rock pools to explore.

Because it is East facing, it is the perfect spot to grab a cup of coffee and watch the sun come up over the Atlantic.

St James, Main Road, St James

St James tidal pool. Photo Jay Caboz.

Like Dalebrook, St James is also cleaned using environmentally friendly methods. The pool is one of the larger pools in the Kalk Bay area and a popular spot for swimmers throughout the day. It is a well-known photographer hotspot thanks to its colourful beach houses.

Wooley’s, Kalk Bay

Wooley’s Tidal Pool – Jay Caboz

Wooley’s offers a clear view across to Fish Hoek and is one of the lesser known tidal pools in Cape Town, partly because it is hard to spot from the road.

The pool is divided into two parts – a small splash pool for children and a deeper dipping pool for adults.

Miller’s Point tidal pool

Miller’s Point tidal pool. Photo Jay Caboz.

Planning a trip to Miller’s Point tidal pool can be quite tricky, especially since it’s an hour drive out of Cape Town. It’s also not as sheltered as some of the other tidal pools located along the False Bay side of Cape Town. I recommend checking the weather carefully before making your way out here.

That being said, the tidal pool is picturesque and shaped like a heart, and even has a slide for kids. It is well worth making a day trip out to see it and visiting Cape Point as the same time. Because it is so remote, bringing along a mask and snorkel are a must as you’ll be surprised to see how many creatures make it a home.

Maidens Cove, Camps Bay

Maiden’s Cove. Photo Jay Caboz.

Maidens Cove has two tidal pools hidden between enormous granite boulders. It’s nestled under the shadow of Lions Head, on the Camps Bay side of the city which faces West.

It’s a popular spot for sundowners with many people driving here just to watch blazing sunsets as the sun dips behind the Atlantic.

Maidens Cove has a special history as it was one the few beaches where non-white residents of Cape Town could come and enjoy a day at the sea in a whites-only area before 1994, according to Cape Town tidal pools.

There are many more tidal pools to visit inside the Western Cape.

Here is the full list of tidal pools dotted across the Western Cape:

Camps Bay Tidal Pool – Victoria Road, Camps Bay

Dalebrook Tidal Pool – Off Main Road, Dalebrook

Glencairn Tidal Pool – Glencairn Beach, Glencairn

Graaff Tidal Pool – Sea Point Beach Front, Beach Road, Sea Point

Harmony Park Tidal Pool – Jan Bruin Street, Strand

Kalk Bay 1 Tidal Pool – Off Main Road, Kalk Bay

Kalk Bay 2 Tidal Pool – Off Main Road, Kalk Bay

Maiden’s Cove 1 Tidal Pool – Off Victoria Road, Camps Bay

Maiden’s Cove 2 Tidal Pool – Off Victoria Road, Camps Bay

Milton Tidal Pool – Off Beach Road, Sea Point

Monwabisi Tidal Pool – Off Baden Powell Drive, Khayelitsha

Saunders’ Rock Tidal Pool – Sea Point Promenade, Beach Road, Sea Point

Shelley Point Tidal Pool – M6, Glencairn

Silwerstroom Tidal Pool – Silwerstroom Resort, off Westcoast Road, Silwerstroom

Soetwater 1 Tidal Pool – Lighthouse Road, Kommetjie

Soetwater 2 Tidal Pool- Lighthouse Road, Kommetjie

Sparks Tidal Pool – Clarence Drive, R44, Gordon’s Bay

St James Tidal Pool – Main Road, St James

Strand Tidal Pool – Beach Road, Strand

Wooley’s Tidal Pool – Off Main Road, Glencairn, Kalk Bay

Images by Jay Caboz – Available here

If you are interested in seeing more image please visit my website, which has a whole gallery dedicated to the tidal pools of Cape Town.

MAY PRINT SALE — SA is open for e-commerce!

Great news everyone e-commerce has been opened within South Africa – all online shopping is allowed.


To celebrate I’m going to run a print special for any orders made from today for the rest of the month.

Sunset Beach, South Africa. Photo Jay Caboz.

Here’s how much you’ll pay for a matt print:

A4 print – R700
A3 print – R1,000
A2 print – R1,500
A1 print – R2,000

Courier prices need to be confirmed but if its within Cape Town I’ll foot the bill!

If you’d like some more inspiration – be it tidal pools, sunsets or sunrises – check out my website or else visit my instagram page, anything on it it printable.

Millers Point tidal pool, South Africa. Photo Jay Caboz.

I really just want to see my work on people’s walls. AND it;ll go a long way toward helping me set up my freelance career. I want to travel South Africa and bring back amazing inspirational images.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me by email at jaycaboz@gmail.com.

Support local, get the economy back up again, and also I would love to eat something other than 2 minute Maggie noodles.

Camps Bay tidal pool, South Africa photo Jay Caboz.



More new photos from Cape Town 2015 – Jay Caboz

Photo Excursion to Cape Town 2015 – Jay Caboz

Taken from my recent trip to Cape Town 2015. Thanks to my family for being so patient when I scream stop from the car!

I seem to be in the Mother City quite alot this year – here is a link to some older photos

Day Trip to Cape Point Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, 2015

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Scarborough, 2015. A delayed exposure using a ND Filter

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Cape Point, 2015

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Cape Point Reserve, 2015

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Panoramic taken while on the way into the reserve

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Cape Town’s Bantry Bay and Sea Point, 2015

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Snuck in some beach shots while everyone else was making supper.

 

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View of the ocean from the flat in Sea Point, a perfect place for sundowners

 

 

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The crips clear sea of Camps Bay,2015

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View of the Twelve Apostles and Camps Bay below.

Hike to the top of Lions Head, 2015

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Hike to the top of Lions Head

 

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Trip to Stellenbosch for some WINE, 2015

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WINE, 2015

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The Stellenbosch wine region, 2015

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New photos from Cape Town 2015 – Jay Caboz

Photo Excursion to Cape Town 2015 – Jay Caboz

Taken from my recent trips to Cape Town 2015. These were taken in February this year in between shoots with Brimstone.

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Bantry Bay, 2015

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Sea Point, 2015

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Sea Point, 2015

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Sea Point, 2015

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I just had to include this series of shots.

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A windy day on Table Mountain

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The view from the top of the cable way

 

 

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In summer, you can catch the cable way to watch the sunset from the top of Table Mountain.

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After watching the sunset, I drive around to Signal Hill to get this panoramic.

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A windy day on Table Mountain, 2015. Delayed exposures of the fynbos blowing in the gusts.

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A windy day on Table Mountain, 2015. Delayed exposures of the fynbos blowing in the gusts.

 

 

Cover Shoot – Brimstone for Forbes Africa Magazine

SEE THE FULL STORY HERE

I flew down a few weeks ago to get my second cover of the year for Forbes Africa Magazine. March 2015 Edition, out now on shelves and also written by me.

I would like to introduce Fred Robertson, a former teacher, and his partners Mustaq Brey, a self-taught chartered account from Wynberg, and Lawrie Brozin from Johannesburg – the men of Brimstone Investment.

At the turn of South African democracy these three men, from three different worlds, set out in the shadow of Table Mountain, in Cape Town, to change their fortunes. In April, it will be 20 years since they took $840,000 from working people in Cape Town and turned it into $628 million.FA 2015 Mar OFC

Shoot

1. How I got the shot?

Shooting in harsh sunlight is not always a walk in the park. Sunlight can be your friend and also your enemy. In order to place the Brimstone crew in front of Table Mountain the angle meant they were 1/3 in shadow and the other 2/3 in the sunlight.

So what do you do?

Obviously for a cover photo we weren’t going to use natural light so we packed up two Mono Heads. You then can underexpose your photograph so that the background is slightly darker and then blast your lights at full power. (See pic 1 and pic 2 below). The same effect can be created with two speedlights synced up, the Mono Heads are more powerful though.

In effect what you want to do is overpower the sunlight with the Mono Heads to cancel out the shadows.

To darken you background and soften the glare you can also use an ND filter. The filter acts like a Polaroid lens. Ever noticed how when you are at the beach the white sand can blind you? Well this is what the ND filter reduces. It also helps to darken the background, making it easier to shoot with artificial lights.

If you didn’t have the ND filter you would have to shoot at F16 or F32,which will create more depth of field in the background. (And yes I wanted to differentiate the background so I shot at F8). It also becomes a question of balancing the artificial light. Most cameras will only be able to sync at 1/200 or slower 1/60. (You get faster but this was what I was working with) With such a bright light outside this would have been tricky. At F8, without a ND filter you are looking at a shutter speed of somewhere in the region of 1/500 or 1/1000 to fast for the artificial lights.

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Picture 1: This is a photo taken without lights. See how the shadows are quite dark on their faces. You can’t see their eyes at all. For the cover shot this was the exposure I set my camera to, notice how dark the background is.

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Picture 2: It’s not in focus but you can clearly see how a flash can overpower the surrounding light. It is made easier because you underexpose for the background.

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Picture 3: Here is a behind the scenes shot. See how Nisaar and Nazima have to hold the lights up. As a consequence we couldn’t use diffusers to soften the white light with the monopods — they would have blown away. (We even had sandbags by the way) You can also see the wind blowing Brozin’s jacket on the far left.

2. Unexpected things? – WIND

Weather permitting Cape Town is one of the most beautiful locations in Africa to shoot. Emphasis on weather permitting. Luckily we had a few hands on deck to hold up the mono lights thanks Nisaar and Nazima! 🙂 (Picture 3)

It’s pretty much a waiting game when it comes to capturing the right moment. Outdoor shoots are tricky when you have to wait for the wind to lull. But the Brimstone crew were willing to embrace the moment (which I am quite grateful about)

3. Body Positioning?

Body position can make or break a shot. In Picture 1 you can see the Brimstone crew are standing in a tiered position. Shoulder behind shoulder. When we were initially brain storming the shoot (Yes we do this for all our shoots) we thought this would look appealing.

At the shoot I felt this was a little too posed and it looked extremely unnatural and too much like a Facebook photo.

We eventually moved the gentlemen to more of an inverted pyramid. 1. It slims the figure. 2. It leads the eye to the subjects. 3. In bright sunlight people tend to squint so I had to angle the bodies to get the subjects to look at me without closing their eyes.
Overall I was very happy with the outcome. It was something different to put on our cover and it was a challenge to overcome.

Portrait – Dinesh Patel, OrderIn

Portrait – Dinesh Patel, OrderIn

Dinesh Patel has done a lot: sport, entertainment and worked as a banker on Wall Street. After 10 years in the United States, he found his calling back on African soil, where he hopes to change the way we order food. He esablished the popular delivery service OrderIn based in Cape Town.

Photography – Jay Caboz
Location – Sandton Drive Johannesburg with Dinesh Patel
Publication – see the articles here Forbes Africa Magazine July Issue

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A landscape #photo holiday in #CapeTown part 3

The final part of my Cape Town trip. I went and bought myself an adjustable ND filter for Christmas from my favourite photographic shop ORMS direct. (I order my stuff from these guys in Joburg, they are brilliant when it comes to customer service and have the best prices)

Ever notice how polarized glasses eliminate the glare? Well the filter works like that, except with an adjustable filter you can determine how much glare you want to eliminate.

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This means that not only can I shoot during hard light, generally avoided by landscape photographers, but you can also darken your exposure allowing you to shoot delayed images to capture waves. Shot at 4 sec at f22. (usually you would only be able to push an exposure to 1/100)

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You would obviously need a tripod to stabalise the camera. 4 sec at f22

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The power of an ND filter is seen during golden hour. Polarized lenses allow greater colour. 15 sec at f 22 with 35mm.

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13 sec at f22 at 24mm. This is Clifton beach, arguably the most famous of Cape Town’s beaches.

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My last sunset before leaving back to Johannesburg. 1/4 at f4 with 75mm

A landscape #photo holiday in #CapeTown part 2

For part 1 click here!

Following a great few days on the beach we traveled to the interior of Cape Town. Here there are many nature reserves perfect for hiking and camping as well as the origins of South Africa’s wine farms in Stellenbosch.

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Before the arrival of my ND filter, we took a brief trip to the Helderberg Mountains. A Protea strewn nature reserve full of colour. 50mm 1/5000 at f1,4

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Stellenbosch wine lands. 50mm 1/8000 f1,6. I find when I go to wine lands I look out for this type of photo. A down the line shot with the vineyards in the background.

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4 sec at f22. On this particular day there were large swells hitting the rocks. I needed to find a means of comparing the scale of the waves, which is why I took this shot with the people sitting on the rocks.

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Near close to dark a couple stood on the rocks giving me a chance to get a silhouette. A very photojourn sort of shot (sometimes you can’t avoid thinking of work with you are on holiday). 1/800 at f1,4

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This was the last photo I took form this angle a day later. I had to wait for about an hour to get the right amount of white, with the rosey reflection in the water. 6 second at f22

Someone asked me to demonstrate the difference between a slow shutter speed and a fast. This was shot at 1/60 at f,16.

Someone asked me to demonstrate the difference between a slow shutter speed and a fast. This was shot at 1/60 at f,16.  Compare this to the above shot and you can also see the effects of depth of field. In this shot the ships in the background are blurry, whereas the foreground is sharp. Compare this to the above shot.