Surf photography

 

As a photographer who has grown up with a love for surfing and the ocean, it is only natural that my favourite place to shoot is in the water. For me it has been a long journey, from purchasing a GoPro and editing on my phone, to eventually investing in a full frame DSLR, a range of lenses and a water proof housing, as well as using professional software to edit. It was then a long process of teaching myself how to use the equipment and discover my own style of image editing. One thing that helped me along this journey was the help of other photographers who took the time to share some of their knowledge and techniques via blogs and YouTube tutorials, so I thought I might do the same and share some of what I've learnt so far! 

GEAR:

I definitely don't have all of the best and latest, most expensive gear. But I am a firm believer in the cliche' that the best camera is the one you're holding and I am stoked that my gear allows me to take the images I want to. My go-to set up for shooting in the water includes my Canon 5d mark ii with a Canon EF 20mm f/2.8 USM lens (sometimes for barrelling waves I use a Sigma 15mm f/2.8) and an SPL Water housing, which was custom made to fit my camera. I Also use Dafin Swim Fins to help me be a strong swimmer in the ocean.

  Camera:  Canon 5dii . Lens:  Canon 20mm f/2.8 . Housing:  SPL Housing . Fins:  DaFin  Swim Fins. Rashie:  Une Piece . Zinc:  Sun and Earth Zinc. 

Camera: Canon 5dii. Lens: Canon 20mm f/2.8. Housing: SPL Housing. Fins: DaFin Swim Fins. Rashie: Une Piece. Zinc: Sun and Earth Zinc. 

SETTINGS:

I like to shoot with my camera in Manual Mode so that I can have full control over the way the shots turn out. I also like to shoot with my camera set to RAW mode. This allows me to have more flexibility in my post processing and there is no compression to my files.

For focusing I shoot using Auto Focus. I will sometimes pre focus my lens on Manual Focus and tape it in place to shoot barreling waves, but most of the time I find Auto Focus works best for me. When I shoot in Auto Focus in the ocean I set my AF Mode to AI SERVO. This allows the camera to focus on moving objects. For The Drive Mode I shoot in CONTINUOUS SHOOTING.

The next thing I set in my camera is my White Balance. If I am shooting in the bright sun, I will set my white balance to DAYLIGHT. If I am shooting for sunset I will usually set it for CLOUDY.

I then adjust ISO, SHUTTER SPEED and APERTURE according to the type of shot I want to go for. If I would like a blurred motion effect, I will slow my shutter speed down and increase my aperture number. If I'd like a shallow depth of field, I will shoot with a larger aperture (2.8 for example). If you are just starting and need to learn more about exposing your photos, I recommend watching some tutorials on 'The Exposure Triangle'. 

Below I will share some of my images with their settings to give some examples:

  'Morning Traffic'. ISO 125, f/4.5, 1/1000th

'Morning Traffic'. ISO 125, f/4.5, 1/1000th

  'Immerse'. ISO:125, F/6.3, 1/1250th  

'Immerse'. ISO:125, F/6.3, 1/1250th 

  'Saturday Sliders' ISO:125, F/8 1/25th

'Saturday Sliders' ISO:125, F/8 1/25th

POST PROCESSING: 

Once I capture my images in RAW format I then process them in Adobe Lightroom. If I had to describe my style I would say vibrant colours and soft tones is what I aim for. Each edit is always different, so I thought I would include the same shots as above, with the BEFORE/AFTER of each image as well as the edit I did for that photo, to give some insight into the process.  

 

 On the left you can see the RAW image and on the right is the finished edited image. I usually just edit a photo until my vision of the image as a finished art piece comes to life. Something I like to focus on is the   TONE CURVE ADJUSTMENT ,  as this helps me to bring the smooth tones out in a photo. See below for the edit I used on this photo. 

On the left you can see the RAW image and on the right is the finished edited image. I usually just edit a photo until my vision of the image as a finished art piece comes to life. Something I like to focus on is the TONE CURVE ADJUSTMENTas this helps me to bring the smooth tones out in a photo. See below for the edit I used on this photo. 

 This edit is a little more in-depth than the previous image. I wanted to edit the image to bring it closer to the way it looked and felt in real life. The blues and greens came across quite saturated in the first image so I worked at editing the image to bring out the vision I had when I was in the moment. Below you can see the changes I made. 

This edit is a little more in-depth than the previous image. I wanted to edit the image to bring it closer to the way it looked and felt in real life. The blues and greens came across quite saturated in the first image so I worked at editing the image to bring out the vision I had when I was in the moment. Below you can see the changes I made. 

 This image looked pretty close to what I pictured in the raw file, I just wanted to make the colours pop a little more and bring out more clarity and vibrancy. I also sharpened this image quite a lot, which I always do for slow shutter images. 

This image looked pretty close to what I pictured in the raw file, I just wanted to make the colours pop a little more and bring out more clarity and vibrancy. I also sharpened this image quite a lot, which I always do for slow shutter images. 

For me, photography is so much more than gear and settings. I hope the info above will be helpful or interesting to anyone wanting to get into photography, but for me it is more about having fun and using you camera to express your creativity and vision. As long as I am enjoying the moment and re-creating that beautiful vision the best way I can for others to enjoy, I am happy.

Amy Markham4 Comments