Session: Bantham Tuesday 17th February 2015

The aim of this site is to document my process for improving my surf photography, I don’t tend to put up a lot of local session style galleries until I happen to be shooting somewhere well known with a lot of people in the water.

If you’re here for surf photography tips head to the bottom of the post, otherwise here are some shots from the morning session at Bantham on Tuesday the 17th of February 2015, if you’d like to see more send me an e-mail at ben@learningsurfphotography.com or leave a comment on this post, technical details for the shoot are below the photos.

Equipment

I was shooting with my Sony a6000, Sigma 60mm f2.8 lens and adapted Aquatech housing, I also had a GoPro Hero 4 Silver on top of the housing shooting video for many of the waves too.

Camera Mode & Basic Settings

I used shutter priority mode at 1/1000 of a second, I shot a couple of frames at 1/800 as I was walking down to the water but there was enough light to push it to my usual minimum for surf action of 1/1000 by the time I got in.

Much like Chris Burkard suggests in the real world test video from dpreview, shutter priority at this speed means you’ll be able to freeze the wave and rider in place and it will usually give the camera a chance of getting a low ISO.

The camera selected an ISO around 400 with a maximum of 640 before the sun came up, then it was 100 all the way as there was plenty of light, the aperture never went wider than 4.0, so although I was shooting with my 60mm f2.8 I didn’t need the extra wide apertures on this day, having a narrower (higher number) aperture means more of the shot is in focus, so although the autofocus is great on this camera I had a little bit of leeway in terms of depth of field.

Focus and Metering Mode

I was shooting in AF-C or continuous focus mode, I had the centre focus point active, I knew I would be shooting lefts and rights so I didn’t want to pre-set my focus point somewhere which would limit my ability to shoot either way.

Metering mode was Multi, I haven’t experimented with centre or spot metering when shooting surf, and I have had no issues with the multi metering mode. These settings appear to be the same for my NEX 5R, although it’s a little bit more fiddly to get to some of them through the menu.

When I originally set up the camera I had a look at a few guides on line (obviously/foolishly I didn’t read the manual until I actually needed to change something that I couldn’t work out, luckily the interface is fairly intuitive even for someone who hasn’t used a Sony before) including this one: https://photographylife.com/recommended-sony-a6000-settings

You’ll find some decent info in there for general photography, but some of it is not that relevant for surf photography specifically, if I get a chance I’ll try and lay out in detail how I’ve got mine set-up.