Do your surfing snaps look like they were taken underwater on a 50-year old Polaroid? Are you struggling to take pictures that look as cool and stylish as the ones you see on Instagram every day?
We may have the solution!
What follows is a list of surf photography tips to help you take professional-looking surf photos.
How to Take Better Surf Photos
Taking the best surf photos requires a combination of skill, patience, persistence, and luck, as well as some very good equipment. It’s not easy and it’s not something you can learn in a single afternoon, but if you follow the steps below and keep persisting, you should get there eventually.
Buy the Right Equipment
Smartphones have very impressive cameras these days, but the best surf photography requires the best cameras, and for that, you need a DSLR.
You want a camera with a fast shutter speed, which dictates how many frames it can capture per second. The higher the shutter speed, the greater your chance of capturing the perfect shot.
There is no single “best” camera for surf photography. Just look for something that has at least 15 megapixels and a shutter speed that is greater than 4 frames per second.
Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, and Canon all have great cameras, but there are more options out there.
You should also think about protecting your camera while you travel. Invest in a camera bag or case to protect against bumps, scrapes, and drops.
Shoot in Bright Light
The best surf photos are often shot at sunrise or sunset when the golden glow of the horizon highlights the silhouette of the surfer and the waves. But when you’re new to surf photography, it’s best to keep things simple and that means shooting in bright light.
Use the automatic settings on your camera and let it do the work for you. You don’t want to be fiddling with your camera settings when you’re still getting used to how it works, and so auto shots are best. They can also produce some beautiful surf snaps.
Set Up a Tripod
A tripod makes a massive difference when shooting surf pictures.
It stabilizes the camera and makes it easier to focus and find the right snap.
Make sure you have everything that you need to snap the perfect surf photo, from a camera with a rapid shutter speed to a travel bag, memory cards, lenses, tripod, and more. You don’t want to be calling it a day 30 minutes in just because you forgot something.
Try Different Positions
Don’t stay in one position. It doesn’t matter how perfect it seems. Your camera and your tripod are mobile, so move around and try different angles.
Try shooting from the beach, close to the surf—just move around and see what works.
You can also experiment with the camera settings.
Learn About The Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds is used in photography and cinematography. It’s something you don’t always notice but something that you will start seeing everywhere once you learn about it.
Basically, the idea is that you should place your subject in the left or right third of the image and leave the other two-thirds open. The result is a more enticing and engrossing image.
For instance, surf photographers may capture the actual surfer in the left third of the image, before leaving the rest to explore the setting sun and the breaking wave.
What is the Best Lens for Surfing Photography?
Canon “L” lenses are considered to be some of the best in the world when it comes to surf photography. They are not cheap, but you can buy one used.
You need a long lens and should also invest in a UV filter.
Summary: How to Be a Better Surf Photographer
Practice makes perfect. It’s true for playing instruments and learning a trade, but it’s also true for creative pursuits like photography.
The more you shoot, the better you will become. You should also watch some YouTube videos on the subject and learn more about photography basics like the aforementioned rule of thirds.
If you just want some half-decent photographs for your social media pages, you don’t need a great deal of experience or skill. But if you want the best surf photography every time, you will need to invest a lot of time and money.