John Harvey Photo

Learn To Photograph Tide Pools
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Great detail on the West Coast.


Shhh - don't tell anyone.  One of my favorite things to do on a west coast trip to go find a tide pool at low tide.  Lots of great colours, new surprises and a bit of a challenge to frame.

The first challenge is finding a good tide pool.  There are some superstar beaches but you would be surprised what you can find at pretty much any beach at low tide.  An ideal tide pool beach is flat, mostly rock, and is exposed to current when the tide changes.
Ochre Star In The CityStars With Ferries BehindBeach With Reflections
Looking Underwater
The most alien things are generally found underwater in the shallow pools of water left behind when the tide receeds.  Spend some time looking but when you want to take your photo, watch the glare on the surface of the water. 
Aggregate Green AnemoneAnemone FriendsBuried Green Anemone
Our of the Water

Above the water, you will find animals that like to be under water that happen to be out of the water.  These animals can survive out of water for a few hours but they do their best to minimize their exposure to the hot sun and prolonged dry.  If you do turn over kelp to find animals, be sure to return the cover. 
Two Types Of ChitonsMottled Star
Sail JellyfishSponge Covering Rock
Get In Close
These animals are pretty alien (no arms or legs) and the details can be just as alien as their overall shape.  If you can focus on the smaller detail, you can make some strong compositions.
Anemone Full Of JunkSpines On Urchin
The Plants are Cool!
Feather Boa Floats

There are no plants the live in the ocean that you can find on land.   These plants don't have flowers (they are all algae) but they have lots of details that you don't find on land plants.  Plants in the forest have seasons and the ocean is no different - plants in the springs are different than plants in the fall or winter.
Dead Mans FingersKnot Around Anchor
Look out for that contrast

Because the tidepools are generally wet and have lots of crags and cover.  When the sun is out, the contrast between the bright glare spots and the dark shaded areas challenge any camera.  Be careful how you compose and make shade if it helps bright the constract under control. 
Star FishLeather Star



Dead Mans Fingers
Species: Halosaccion glandiforme (Sea Sacs)
Tags: Botanical Beach, kelp
Star Fish
Species: Pisaster ochraceus (Ochre Star)
Tags: beach, sea star
Ochre Star In The City
Species: Pisaster ochraceus (Ochre Star)
Location: Go To...
Tags: beach, sea star, shallow depth of field, Stanley Park
Leather Star
Species: Dermasterias imbricata (Leather Star)
Tags: beach, sea star
Two Types Of Chitons
Species: Katharina tunicata (Black Katy Chiton), Tonicella lineata (Lined Chiton)
Tags: Botanical Beach, tide pool
Knot Around Anchor
Species: Nereocystis luetkeana (Bull Kelp)
Tags: beach, Botanical Beach, kelp
Spines On Urchin
Species: Strongylocentrotus franciscanus (Red Sea Urchin)
Tags: sea urchin
Mottled Star
Species: Evasterias troschelii ()
Tags: beach, sea star
Sail Jellyfish
Species: Velella velella (Sail Jellyfish, By-the-wind sailor)
Tags: beach, Botanical Beach, jellyfish, shallow depth of field
Feather Boa Floats
Species: Egregia menziesii (Feather Boa)
Tags: Botanical Beach, kelp
Anemone Friends
Species: Anthopleura elegantissima (Aggregating Anemone, Clonal Anemone)
Tags: tide pool
Stars With Ferries Behind
Species: Pisaster ochraceus (Ochre Star)
Altitude: 10m (32 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: beach, sea star
Aggregate Green Anemone
Species: Anthopleura elegantissima (Aggregating Anemone, Clonal Anemone)
Tags: Botanical Beach, tide pool
Beach With Reflections
Altitude: 4m (13 feet)
Location: Go To...
Tags: beach, Botanical Beach
Sponge Covering Rock
Species: Haliclona permollis (Purple Encrusting Sponge)
Tags: intertidal
Buried Green Anemone
Species: Anthopleura artemisia (Buried Green Anemone)
Tags: tide pool
Anemone Full Of Junk
Tags: tide pool
Tags: beach(8), Botanical Beach(7), sea star(5), tide pool(5), kelp(3), shallow depth of field(2)
From: John Harvey Photo > Learn Photography > Learn To Photograph Tide Pools

thanks alot perfect information
david saba
Wednesday, August 6th, 2008 at 11:12:03

Great shots, I work in aquariums. I'm impressed with your species ID!
naturephotog
Thursday, November 5th, 2009 at 22:14:30

This is pretty sweet. I like the sea star pics. This site is going to be so useful to me now, and in the future. Right now, I feel like going to a beach and snapping pictures. Thanks for the influence. =D
photogeek
Monday, November 16th, 2009 at 10:26:13

Thanks for spending the time to make the tutorial :-)
pete shipstone
Friday, March 26th, 2010 at 04:42:27

The pics were a real treat to the eye, the knowledge you impart is really very helpful for beginners like us. Thank you so much :)
Punam
Tuesday, April 6th, 2010 at 08:23:57

wow.. ur really great. thanks for all these awesome ideas : " )
LALA
Saturday, May 29th, 2010 at 23:23:46

Your whole website is fantastic. Thank you very much for taking the time to share your thoughts and tips........very much appreciated
Lee
Sunday, June 27th, 2010 at 16:27:17

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