Although we’re not in Hawaii that’s no excuse to not search out some pretty sweet surfing spots and challenge your photography skills, here’s our advice to get you started
If there’s a life bucket list for the adventurous and the action fuelled individuals then surfing the coast is without a doubt in the top five.
Setting Up for the Surf
So you’ve hit the sand, gear in hand, ready to plunge into the big blue to capture those spectacular waves and the surfers graciously gliding on them, so a camera with a decent frame rate is a must to catch those moving sequences in the hope of getting a pretty decent shot. Something that is small enough to fit in a decent underwater housing such as an SPL will fit the bill, but also built so that you can swim with it and function it manually so that you have full control. This last point is particularly important in surf photography because there’s so much going on in the scene the camera will be searching all over the place if you’re in AI Servo — good old sticky tape is a handy hold down for the focus ring — and in this instance you want to handle shutter speed, aperture and ISO.
Lens Locked In
With your camera set for action, if you’re a bit afraid of getting too close to the surfers then a zoom lens such as a 70-200mm f/2.8 is a great all rounder, but at times a monster of a lens with an extraordinary zoom count is just the ticket. And if you fancy getting creative and taking on board the work of pros such as Will Bailey, then a fisheye lens is a great way to explore something fun. These are pretty popular in surf photography because not only are they great to experiment with, they also offer an angle that the Average Joe doesn’t get to see, producing some pretty spectacular results. You must bear health and safety in mind though and avoid using the camera’s viewfinder when using a fisheye because not only will the lens be unable to focus properly with the fast action, you’ll also get a bump on the head when the waves come hurtling towards you and your face is fixed on the screen.
Above all though it’s about testing two passions in the most exhilarating environment and having a gnarly time. Track them down, keep your focus, stay safe and embrace the challenge you’re throwing yourself into for some truly rewarding images. Don’t forget to document your surroundings too for that all-round experience.
Fujifilm Finepix HS50EXR
Roger Sharp, Editor of surf magazine Carve, headed out to the Fistral beach on the Cornish coast with the Fuji FinePix HS50EXR to see how well it shot the surf.
«Professional surf photographers use the widest range of lenses available. From the widest fisheye for in the water shots to the exotic 300-600mm car priced long lenses for action shots from the beach. So it’s no surprise there’s an age-old pub conversation which goes something like: «If only Canon or Nikon could make a 15-600mm zoom then we’d only need one lens instead of the arsenal we all carry.»
Whilst it’s not aimed at professionals the Fuji HS50EXR bridge camera brings that dream a little bit closer. It rocks an impressive zoom range from 24mm-1000mm. Yes. 1000mm. That’s a good few mils longer than the five figure 600mm that pro sports guys use. So for the enthusiast that’s keen to shoot surfers using some mammoth reach, this puppy is worth investigating.
I had a few hours and some borderline surf to test so didn’t have the time to read the manual. A test of any camera is ease of use but the menus were self-explanatory. The AF workable, the EVF bright, image quality good and the mega-zoom a pleasure to explore. In decent light with the super-fast continuous 11fps set up it would be a great little camera for shooting your friends surfing.»