Tips for Perfect Surfing Pictures
Surf photography is beautiful and impressive, but it is rarely talked about. It's not the easiest one to tackle, maybe because the surfer is hard to catch or because the photographer might get eaten by sharks, it's hard to tell. Nevertheless, the result of this sport on pictures is so stunning that photographers are often asked for a photo shoot. Read our tips here and get good at surfing photography.
Photographers use light to their advantage every day. They manipulate it and make it work for them all the time. Surf photographers might have a lot of light and it might seem daunting at first, but don't worry. Take time to examine how light is hitting the water. You will find that in some places water gives almost constant reflection, but there are spots with almost no reflection at all. For the best result, use the non-reflective areas to shoot your surfing target. This way you will have your beautiful background and will avoid blown out sky that is very hard to fix later.
You have to make sure you have the right tool set for the job. To capture your surfer, you will need a lens that has enough focal length. If you are using Canon, make sure you have at least 300mm zoom kit lens for work on the shore. If you want to have the best tool possible, get Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II USM lens. This lens will make your job a lot easier and will give you great sharpness and quality. It's not cheap, but it is a great investment. If you are not certain about spending this much money, see if your local lens depot has it for rent and try it out.
Keeping your ISO low, while shooting surfers, makes perfect sense. You will reduce noise in your pictures because high ISO contributes to that. You already have so much light while shooting by the ocean; you really don't need to add any more. If you do, you are running a risk of having an overexposed shot.
4. Landscape Orientation
You can try portrait orientation too, but horizontal mode is definitely recommended. When you are using landscape orientation, try to vary your horizon to make sure that your image won't be thrown off. You don't want to be stuck straightening every single shot post production as it would add a lot more work for you. If you shoot horizontally, you might capture not only waves, but a beautiful sunset too.
5. High Shutter Speed
Use the fastest mode you can while shooting surfers. Just like many sports, surfing is a very fast-paced activity that changes constantly. The waves come and have to be cached fast so you should always be ready for changes in seconds. You should have your shutter speed set to at least 1/500 or more than your lens focal length. If you listen to this advice, your images will be sharp and you will keep the unwanted blur at minimum.
You should definitely research and scout your locations before you undertake surfing photography. Not every beach is the same and each place will have very different conditions when it comes to the light and waves that surfers need. If you don't have surfer friends who could tell you the best spots, do some homework in advance and figure out what beaches are good for the photoshoot in your location and close by. Sometimes surfers themselves will tell you the perfect location, time of the day, and season to have the best waves and pictures.
7. A Story
Pictures are sometimes worth a thousand words, so your job is to make sure that it does, maybe even a million words. It is always a good idea to think of a story line and tell it through pictures. You should make it a lot more than just waves and sunsets, create a story for the viewer. Capture images before and after the main tricks to show all sides of the sport.