Positioning for Surf Photography in the Water

Raw Transcript

another area that a lot of people asked about when I asked them what they wanted to see in this course is positioning in the water now it does obviously depend a lot on what kind of lens were using so I’m going to run through the probably the three commonest lenses that you’re gonna be using in the water and where I used to sit and position myself in relation to surfers and waves so let’s go with fisheye first so for me the best kind of shot you’re gonna get with the fisheye is in the barrel so you’re going to want to be in the impact zone in terms of where abouts that is for each wave then you’re going to need to study that wave in detail so the better you know the wave the better the chances are of getting into that position and it’s very difficult in bigger waves the bigger the waves the harder it is so you want to be very very confident in your ability to get intuition and get out of the way of people as well because you’re going to be in a position where with a fish are you have to be in the zone or there’s no point so you’re going to have to be right where that surfer wants to be and you’re gonna be sharing space with them so this is where it’s critical to communicate with the people who are in the water and to make sure you’re confident yourself and in your knowledge of the break and just your own ability so yeah official eyes are quite hard I I would once you wants all of that if you take all of that as a given you’re confident you know what’s going on I tend to err on the side of being inside and closer to the the beach which is counterintuitive when you’re initially in the water certainly when you’re surfing riding waves that’s not where you want to be you want to be slightly too far out if anything because you’re going to be paddling in and gaining momentum towards the beach and then taking off with photography you almost want the opposite you want to be when you see that way of coming you want to be going out towards it to meet it you want to build up some momentum with your swim fins towards the wave because you want to push through the back of it to pop out back yeah exact opposite what you want to do when you’re surfing so try and try and get into that mindset and try and you just got to be be alert at all times I mean more so than when you’ve got a surfboard because especially if there’s more than more than one person in the water you’re quite often find yourself Qiang and and as long as you’re in roughly the right position you can still turn and go on a wave what you still don’t dive and get away photographer you often no one’s gonna swab around where you are because you’re in where they’re gonna be surfing in the impact zone so you’ve got to just be aware of your surroundings at all times I find it quite useful to kind of do a do a big push up with my swim fins and have a good look over the top because you’re not gonna have a floatation device with you and your sink fisheye because you kind of want to push under the waves so you don’t often you’ve got quite a low you’re popping around like this and whereas if you’re sitting on your board you can see the sets coming you’re not going to see that so keep an eye on the surfers they’re going to be a good indicator as to when the waves are coming and that will kind of you know you’ve got you’ve got to be alert and in the zone so you’re a little bit further inside then even you want to be when you’re taking the photo so you can when the sets coming usually if it’s a holiday especially in the waters kind of draining out towards the wave anyway and you’re going with that you’re building a bit of mentum not too much because you’ll miss the shot this is where experience is critical and practice and then you come out towards it if you watch and watch clock little videos of him shooting shore break he is quite often waits till the last minute and then he’s sprinting towards the wave and then he’ll you know dive get shot and push pull out through the wave in an ideal world and if it’s deeper water then you want to be doing the equivalent but with your swim wins so you swim out and then other lip pictures over you’re extending your arm so that it pokes out of the wave face and in inside the barrel and you’re shooting you know just just shoot the last the very last moment because a lot of cameras have a small buffer and you don’t want to run out of shots before the wave goes past so I’m with the Asics 500 and that’s not very initiate it’s for a huge buffer in there I tend to wait until you know quite near the end hold down the shutter and it will fire off there might be eight shots of that wave in a fraction of a second maybe a whole second and I’ll get ten shots maybe and the last three of those will be pull the flap back through the way like underwater and the first three will be before the lips really pitching but the core five in the middle are going to be the ones that you sift through to pick out the best shot that’s my advice for fisheye positioning for normal lenses like this 35 mil on my aps-c sensor 50ml equivalent lenses I tend to shoot from a body board sometimes I won’t take a body board and I’ll just be swimming that’ll be tends to be when it’s more when it’s a beach break where there isn’t a channel well I’m not where I’m going to have to go under waves if I’m having to go into waves frequently then I won’t have a body ball with me or any other flotation device because it just gets in the way if there’s a channel if it’s a reef break then I’ll paddle out my body board and I’ll sit because you can sit pretty close to a breaking wave again knowledge of the spot is is invaluable for this type of shot because the angle you get from this one is very similar to your what you kind of see with your eyes so I find the angle I’m going for is like those those memories you have of when you’re paddling out through the channel of a spot or on the shoulder of a wave and you see a friend or whoever surfing and that moment capturing that moment is what you do with this lens for me anyway so I position myself as if I’ve just caught a wave and I’m not paddling back out that’s pretty much that’s a good way of kind of figuring out where to sit watch for a while as people catch waves as they come in as they kicked out of a wave or wherever popped up after the wave sit sit yourself just a bit further outside then where they kick off that’s a good starting point and then you can maneuver around and figure out you know where you actually want to be in terms of composing it quite often if there’s something interesting on the you wanna you’ll be positioning yourself somewhere totally different but you won’t see that perspective necessarily from the beach so this one not as easy to to describe the best place to be because we’re fisheye you want to be in the barrel this one you might want to be behind the wave you might want to see them you might want to see that the arc spray as they do a turn with a big cliff in the background you might want to be in front of it you might you know there’s lots of different options so good starting point is where the person kicks out from the wave or the section of the way if it’s a Long Point Break for instance so telephoto zoom lenses like this 155 210 or 7,200 or lots of other cameras where do you want to position with those I think same thing it’s I did get on a body board and you’re not going under wave wave all the time get on a body board so generally speaking I if you’re shooting early in the morning late in the evening I always try and do at least two positions with this I try and get one shot looking towards the Sun whichever way that happens to be and another angle looking the other way and one of those are ABAB with either of them I want to be if I’m looking into the wave like the surfers are riding towards me then I want to be parallel with the wave and I want to be the hollow section of that wave wherever that happens to be or not necessarily hollows the section where people are more likely most likely to do something photogenic so get barreled do an air do a big turn that section of the wave I’m going to be sitting in slightly inside that but pretty much side on because the side on view is is a really nice one usually in that kind of maneuver if they’re riding away from me from like I say I’m gonna alternate sides at least once throughout the session so I get something a bit different lighting wise if they’re running away from me then I’m gonna be further inside because I you need to see if you that parallel with the wave they’re gonna go outside behind the white water straight away as they bottom turn but if you’re inside a bit then you get that nice you them like arcing I I really like those those angles kind of inside but relatively parallel as someone’s going away from you that can be one of the best angles you can get and it’s not the one you think of necessarily first some spots will lend themselves to it really well there’s like a spot local to me where the bit way you normally paddle out like the keyhole through the reef where you paddle out has that view of them of you kind of pull up behind the wave base of green takeoff going further away from it and because that’s the angle that you paddle out if you’re familiar with that spot and you’ve served it before you’ve seen people take off and do that that view loads of times and you can capture it just right then I think it really transports you to that moment when you’re paddling out does for me anyway so think about that think about where what your audience is if your audience is people who surf that spot then figure out where they paddle out and take a few photos from there you probably only get anyway because you’re paddling out there but think about that and then if your audience is people who’ve never surfed before then perhaps you want to think about it differently you want to shoot into the light because it makes it more interesting or you want to be practicing when I go for underwater shot because as I’ve mentioned that seems to speak to non surfers better than standard sessions so I think there’s a few tips on positioning in the water that might help you and but first things first talk to the people in the water perhaps there’s yeah I suppose the other thing is if someone doesn’t want you to shoot in that water even if it’s just one person out of twenty I shouldn’t bother isn’t it no point it’s surfers can be very territorial and very protective of their local spots and just go for a surf I would don’t get in anyone’s way all the normal rules apply for surf photography but more so because you’re going to be people are very sensitive when there’s cameras around if it’s a sensitive surf spot but if it’s not then just make sure you talk to the people who you’re gonna be shooting and some people might not want to have their photo taken often what might way way more often than P who aren’t keen on you taking photos people will tell you yeah if you sit there that’s going to give you a good angle or you know the waves don’t have a break there that’s a good spot to be in that’s way more common for me is people giving you positive advice and tips on I’m doing it so don’t be afraid to talk to people and for the one person in 50 who are really bummed out with you being having a camera there there’ll be five people who are stoked that you’ve got a camera and really want to help you out and you know get you the best results that you can get so yeah that’s that’s some basic advice for positioning in water





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