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Thread: Holiday Surf

  1. #1
    Goldcoastgolfer's Avatar
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    Holiday Surf

    I have a new found respect for photographers that manage to capture photos of people surfing. I decided to heard down early this morning as the surf on the Gold Coast has be unusually large over the last couple of days to see what I could catch... borrowing Kerry's 55-300mm kit lens as I don't have anything that long. As it turns out, I was wishing for something even longer and faster this morning!

    Some of the challenges I ran into:
    - low light
    - mist and spray coming from the rather large waves
    - distance, with the waves breaking further out than normal

    I'd love to hear from anyone that has experience at taking these sort of shots as I ended up with an obscene amount of noise and pictures that aren't very sharp. General C&C of course is always welcome.

    Holiday Surf

    Holiday Surf

    Holiday Surf

    Holiday Surf

  2. #2
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    Re: Holiday Surf

    Hi Malcolm. The second one is really good. Lots of action and color, but it looks like it could use a little more contrast on my monitor. Any chance you could crop out the advertisement at the bottom?
    Last edited by FrankMi; 27th December 2011 at 04:15 PM.

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    Re: Holiday Surf

    Those colours are gorgeous! Nothing that compares to those waves in my neighbourhood so I can't help with the technical side of capturing surfers. The focus on the second one looks fine. It's spectacular. Do you think the drops of water/mist are confusing your focus point(s) for the others, or that you are actually shooting through a thin wall of water which is causing some diffraction?

  4. #4
    Goldcoastgolfer's Avatar
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    Re: Holiday Surf

    Quote Originally Posted by Maritimer1 View Post
    Those colours are gorgeous! Nothing that compares to those waves in my neighbourhood so I can't help with the technical side of capturing surfers. The focus on the second one looks fine. It's spectacular. Do you think the drops of water/mist are confusing your focus point(s) for the others, or that you are actually shooting through a thin wall of water which is causing some diffraction?
    The second one was actually one of the last ones I took. By that time the waves were getting smaller and so kicking up less spray and the sun was coming up and providing more light.

    What you've mentioned about the diffraction issue makes sense. It was a rather thick wall of spray created by a lot of large waves in the foreground. Not sure if there's a way around that which doesn't call for a much bigger and faster lens!

  5. #5
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Holiday Surf

    Great shots... Especially the first two!

  6. #6

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    Re: Holiday Surf

    Malcolm, would it be possible to photograph that same scene from a different angle. Say, you're on the right when you shot these; can you move way over to the left so you're shooting with the big waves coming towards you? Totally understand that this might not be geographically possible. Just thought it might give a really neat backdrop to your photos without the spray coming from that side. Does that make sense?

  7. #7
    Goldcoastgolfer's Avatar
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    Re: Holiday Surf

    Quote Originally Posted by Maritimer1 View Post
    Malcolm, would it be possible to photograph that same scene from a different angle. Say, you're on the right when you shot these; can you move way over to the left so you're shooting with the big waves coming towards you? Totally understand that this might not be geographically possible. Just thought it might give a really neat backdrop to your photos without the spray coming from that side. Does that make sense?
    Afraid not - at least not without a boat or a very expensive underwater camera casing. I was standing on a headland and it's a point break where the waves roll away from the headland.

    There's one or two other places on the Gold Coast where that might work though - I might drive down there next time instead and see what it's like.

  8. #8
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    Re: Holiday Surf

    My son-in-law, who lives in Jacksonville Beach Florida, does very well
    photographing surfers. He has a entry level camera with a kit lens: Nikon
    D40 with 55/200 lens. He's become progressively better in the last two
    years and explains his successes with the ability to anticipate the shot.

    The more he photographs surfers, the more he is able to anticipate when
    to trip the shutter. He says you get a feel for when the wave will break
    and where the surfer will be. Much like the experienced surfer anticipates.

    Of course, our waves are not nearly as impressive as yours.

  9. #9

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    Re: Holiday Surf

    Hey Malcolm,
    Nice job done. All the pics are nice but 2nd of the lot is my favourite. I love the colours and action you have captured.
    I live way too far from oceans, so no experience with this kind of photography. This being your first attempt at photographing surfers, you have done a pretty good job. I feel once you get a knack of it, it would turn out to be very addictive.

  10. #10
    speedneeder's Avatar
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    Re: Holiday Surf

    Quote Originally Posted by Goldcoastgolfer View Post
    Some of the challenges I ran into:
    - low light
    - mist and spray coming from the rather large waves
    - distance, with the waves breaking further out than normal
    Sounds like you have summed it up pretty well.
    Timing is everything.
    What do you plan to try differently next time?
    I don't see a problem with mist.

    Are you shooting manual the whole time? What ISO? I would think with daylight you could choose any shutter speed you want by changing aperture and ISO.

  11. #11
    Goldcoastgolfer's Avatar
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    Re: Holiday Surf

    Quote Originally Posted by TonyCooper View Post
    The more he photographs surfers, the more he is able to anticipate when
    to trip the shutter. He says you get a feel for when the wave will break
    and where the surfer will be. Much like the experienced surfer anticipates.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sahil View Post
    This being your first attempt at photographing surfers, you have done a pretty good job. I feel once you get a knack of it, it would turn out to be very addictive.
    I used to surf competitively as a kid so I'm reasonably comfortable knowing when to take the shot based on the break which helps a lot in taking these shots.

    Quote Originally Posted by speedneeder View Post
    Sounds like you have summed it up pretty well.
    Timing is everything.
    What do you plan to try differently next time?
    I don't see a problem with mist.

    Are you shooting manual the whole time? What ISO? I would think with daylight you could choose any shutter speed you want by changing aperture and ISO.
    Yep - Auto ISO but I always shoot manual aperture and shutter speed these days (found things adjusting that I didn't want adjusted when I used to use aperture or shutter priority when I first got the camera so ended up deciding to predominantly shoot manual moving forward - just a personal thing).

    Photo #2 was the last one taken when the day was brightest - which was at about 0530. The other photos were taken between 0430 and 0515 so it was a bit darker.

    Re the mist - let me post the originals when I get home and you'll see what I mean. I ended up downloading Topaz Denoise to fix the photos. As for next time, if the waves are there I'll shoot later in the day so there's more light, and I might try a different location like Myra hinted at to see if there's a better perspective to get.

  12. #12
    speedneeder's Avatar
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    Re: Holiday Surf

    Cool, I look forward to seeing your next set of surfing photos

  13. #13
    Goldcoastgolfer's Avatar
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    Re: Holiday Surf

    The original unedited versions... in no particular order.

    Holiday Surf

    Holiday Surf

    Holiday Surf

    Holiday Surf

  14. #14
    speedneeder's Avatar
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    Re: Holiday Surf

    Malcolm, are you talking about the mist/spray at the tops of the waves?
    To me this is simply part of it - a windy day at the beach.
    If this is the case, you might simply try a different crop so that you include enough of it so that it's clear what it is, instead of just looking foggy at the top of the frame. Or crop more so it's not there at all. Just some ideas.
    Keep shooting!

  15. #15
    Goldcoastgolfer's Avatar
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    Re: Holiday Surf

    Quote Originally Posted by speedneeder View Post
    Malcolm, are you talking about the mist/spray at the tops of the waves?
    To me this is simply part of it - a windy day at the beach.
    If this is the case, you might simply try a different crop so that you include enough of it so that it's clear what it is, instead of just looking foggy at the top of the frame. Or crop more so it's not there at all. Just some ideas.
    Keep shooting!
    I suspect it's the spray from the waves. However, because the waves were much larger than normal (15-20 feet+) and coming in so frequently it was throwing a so much spray that it turned into a mist that was floating over the waves.

    Thanks for the ideas in any case - first shoot of surfers so I'll keep at it, although I'm gonna have to wait for the next time large swells hit the coast to get photos that might be able to compare

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