Basic Composition Tips for Surf Photography

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Raw Transcript

I’m going to cover some really basic rules of composition for surf photography in particular I’m not gonna go into too much detail and there’s a lots of lots of resources out there if you want to dig into this in real detail and find out all about the different things I’m talking about but let’s cover them really quickly just so you’ve got an idea if this is your first time encountering them then it might be really useful for you so there’s the rule of thirds so divide your frame into thirds vertically and horizontally and then try and put horizontal lines on those horizontal third lines and vertical lines on the vertical ones and subjects of real interest ie surface waves put them on where the points where those lines meet the little crosses and pretty much every piece of post-processing software like Adobe Lightroom and everything else will have a guide that you can drop onto the image that will let you align things for those that great basically and it’s just a way of making photo slightly more interesting it’s definitely not something you should follow at all times 100% but it does mean it’s a little something to keep in your mind when you’re shooting that line up photos or even action photos just to make your photo a little bit more interesting is move the subject out from not don’t put them bang in the middle of the shot move them away a little bit so when when I see a photo that has the subject right in the middle and unless it’s really obvious that that person has composed that photo to make sure that elements align there’s something about it that means well that is obvious why they put that person in the middle subject in the middle and I think well maybe I always kind of in my mind I’m kind of mentally cropping it in a different way but that’s because I’m kind of used to this this photography and technique he called the rule of thirds so try it out see how you feel I think it’s one of the first things that every photographer kind of reads about and and tries out and you’ll notice it a lot in any sort of creative photo or video you’ll notice this kind of technique coming around because it just naturally looks good to the eye to other things which I think fit nicely into surf Torian and things that you can keep in mind really easily are people in photos tend to draw the eye so if you’ve got a lineup shot and you want people to concentrate on one element of that shot or you think one element that shot is they’re the most appealing piece if you’ve got a group of people which are far away from that that’s going to draw people’s eye away from it if you’ve gotten perhaps people dotted in which can lead your you know pattern which leads your eye towards the wave or the surfer that can be really good because you’re naturally as a human you draw your eyes drawn to a shoot to other human figures and then they’ll naturally draw their eye across and one of the other common ones with that type of thing leading lines is what you might call for if you went to google it to look up a bit more a lot of people in Western cultures at least scan tend to scan from left to right so if you’ve got a line coming from the left going across to the right and some put the thing that you want people to look at at the end of that line and they’ll naturally go towards it and these concepts are things that you don’t necessarily plan for too much it’s hard to plan for that kind of thing when you’re taking a surf actually photo but it’s something that you can recognize in your photos afterwards and crop appropriately or select the one which fits this this thing I think don’t worry too much about trying to contrive a situation in order to get all these elements lined up and a lot of landscape photography and things do do things like that but sir– a bit of a different game because it’s the ocean and unpredictable so I tend to look through my through my photos afterwards because I only got a few hundred photos from a session and I’ll find ones which naturally your eye might well be drawn to them anyway but I’ll find ones which have this kind of element going through it and all and I’ll pick those out as my selected images to share with other people so that’s that’s one thing and I think filling the frame is a really good beginners tip again it’s one that you can you might want to disregard in the name of creativity if you see an image which you’d rather have a lot of empty space in the image negative space in the image then and go for it but I I like I like suggesting that people when they’re getting into surftographer at least fill the frame with the thing that’s most interesting cut out anything that’s dull or boring or distracting and just fill it with a thing if you can think if there’s one thing in your image which you want people to concentrate on fill the frame of that thing and that might be lines of swell so it might take up it might be a big area or physical area that you want to fill the frame which is totally understandable and or it might be one person doing a tight maneuver on a surfboard and then zoom right into that but I think there’s it’s a good rule of thumb is to fill the frame with the thing that you want that person to look at and these are just the ones that that kind of pop out to me as I’m going through my photos most often and there are hundreds and hundreds of different rules of composition and rules they’re not really rules perhaps you can break them and quite like also something that comes up a lot in surf photography is parallel lines and I am showing example of a couple but and so lines as well obviously are like one of them most common things that we’ll see so if you can get high up and you can get that shot of the line snapped to the horizon then those that kind of thing is really appealing I think two surfers especially but to humans in general is things being in order seeing multiple things lining up waves our classic example of things that although they’re completely unpredictable and completely unique they are things that happen over and over again in roughly the same place and I think that’s can be a remake it can compelling image and give you something to make your shot stand out another one that I really like is putting the action in context so if you’ve got if there is a car park in the foreground of a wave that’s quite a nice shot sometimes because it lets people know that ah this is a busy spot and it tells you something about the action that’s happening I really like it when there’s if you’ve got a good if there’s people in the water with a good report this friend a group of friends in the water then often they’ll be you know someone to be claiming in the wave or I like if there’s one person in that’s great I love the shots of lineups where there’s one person I think they’re a thousand times better than no people and also much better than lots of people I think if you can nail it went just this one person paddling in there’s a there’s a wave breaking and there’s only one guy in isn’t everyone’s dream as a surface well that’s not but it’s my personal dream as the surfer is to get perfect waves I’m the only one in I mean there’s a photographer on the beach but there’s no one else surfing I can take whichever wave I want so I I love that kind of thing and I really go out of my way to try and compose images where I can see one person maybe there’s one guy paddling out maybe there’s one guy about to paddle into a wave and I think that really that really reflects my kind of personality and it’s one of those one of those things that brings the viewer my point of view and that’s why I think I like the 35 mil focal length and when shooting the water and it’s why I like to compose things with this one person and I like yeah it’s one of those things you’ll find these things yourself and the things I’m talking about now aren’t necessarily what you should go for but you should look into similar concepts of composition and I will put a link there and you can go through in this there’s like I say this hundred to choose from and you’ll probably find one or two that resonate with you and that will enable you to highlight the photos that you like the most and if you like them the most then you’re more likely to shoot them off on you you’re you gonna put them on your wall you’re gonna show other people and you’re going to be able to talk about them like like I’m talking about some of these photos now and hopefully that’s really going to come across in the way that you present your photos and I think that’s one of the things that can get lost if you’re do it using a kind of scattergun approach to try and I’m just you when I was first in surf toriel so I’m just gonna shoot everything I possibly can every different type of photo I want to get in the water I want a fish I want on a long lens in the water and all of this stuff but I think you’re and you might be at that stage right now and and it was a amazing chase to be at but I think I’ve honed in on and you will to hone in on what you like and in order to do that you need to experiment and you need to practice and you need to look through your photos with a critical eye and I think rules of composition that’s probably the most valuable time for a rule of composition for me it’s not when you’re on the beach and racking your brain to think am I supposed to have three things in this shot because odd numbers are good and are there’s a fourth thing there but maybe there’s a leading line I’d I don’t worry about that one I’m actually shooting I tend to just make sure I’ve got a nice make sure you got an interesting angle simple as that then when I’m looking back through my photos that’s when these rules of composition come into their own in terms of separating out the ones that you really like from the ones that perhaps you don’t like as much and that could be totally different to what someone else thinks of that session so this is a really personal thing I think composition have a look at some of the staff take on bore what I’ve said it and if you think that what’s going to work for you then use it if not revisit some other rules see what works for you





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