Final surf photography advice from our professional photographer
Weather and wave watch
Planning ahead is the key to the success of your surf photoshoots, Roger reveals, “For surf pictures you ideally need three things: good waves, good weather, and a good surfer or two!
“I check www.magicseaweed.com as it gives the best indication, telling you wind strength and direction and swell levels.” Avoid strong onshore winds as it ruins the waves, rendering them faceless and unrideable for surfers.
It’s dangerous floating around in the waves with surfers whizzing past your head, so don’t attempt surf photography in big waves unless you’re a strong swimmer or, better still, an experienced surfer who understand the waves.
“Start out with a 100mm lens to shoot in the water from a safe distance,” suggests Roger, “then, as your confidence grows, try shorter focal lengths. Finally, only when you’re ready to be less than a metre from the surfer in the barrel, go with the fisheye lens…”
What to look for in an underwater housing
1. Design and build
Is the DSLR waterproof casing ergonomically designed? How long does it take to set up and are you able to reach all of your camera’s buttons and dials from the outside? Does the casing have a ‘port’ to accommodate your lenses and ensure the best optical quality? Ports are often sold separately.
2. Going deep?
Top-end underwater housings will keep your DSLR dry at 30 metres-plus below the surface – but if you’re not into deep-sea diving, and only plan to use your DSLR when snorkelling or for surf photography, consider a more basic option.
3. 100% waterproof
High-spec underwater housings are only as good as their seals. If you damage the O-ring inside the seals you’re likely to start letting water in and harm your camera.
Take your pick from a high-speed sequence
“Shoot using your DSLR’s High-speed Continuous drive mode to give yourself more chance of taking a winning shot,” advises Roger. “On my 7D, it rips off eight frames per second, giving me more shots of a single surfing sequence, from which I can then pick the best photo.”
Check the histogram
“Shooting surfers in black wetsuits against bright white frothy waves can be challenging, so I always refer to my histogram when reviewing my shots to check exposures to see if any highlights are clipped. If they are, I then dial in negative exposure compensation to darken them,” says Roger.
PAGE 1: Meet our professional photographer and apprentice
PAGE 2: Surf photography tips for during the shoot
PAGE 3: Final surf photography advice from our professional photographer
PAGE 4: Our professional photographer’s recommended gear
PAGE 5: Shot of the Day
Professional Photographer to the Rescue: seaside sunset photography made easy
10 things photographers can do to stop wasting pcitures
15 common photography questions from beginners (and how to solve them)
10 reasons your photos aren’t sharp (and how to fix them)