When do you know where to go, when to go, what time to go and so on and so on.

Hopefully before you go out for a morning, afternoon or evening shoot you have done your do diligence.

For me and wave photography it is all still new but every time I go out I take mental notes of conditions, lighting, wind and angles/composition.  I try to read as much as possible and find websites that will help assist me have the best possible outcome of that days photography.

Things to note:

  • Patience is a virtue:  Not everyday is going to be the best shooting day ever.  As you try new spots and new times you are going to run into some real dud days that produce little to nothing but with that said there will also be days that surprise you and you get more than you thought you would.
  • Take note of wind, weather, drive time, composition, lighting and any other notes for each spot you visit.

For me this is specially important, a few things I have learned:

  • Check the surf report the night before and even days before:  I am always on Surfline.com checking conditions.  I made the mistake once of not checking with Surfline and to go out was a waste of time.  Mine as well have been shooting on a lake the waves were so flat.  Another website to check is Magicseaweed.com
  • Check the weather report is it going to rain, overcast, cloudy.  Which conditions benefit your shooting style:  I can shoot in rain, sun and gray skies but if it is foggy…I go back to bed!
  • Wind conditions are huge for shooting waves.  The wind is so much lighter at sunrise than sunset.  Less winds translate into better wave formations and better sets.  Heavier winds translate into choppy broken sets and lots of white water and white caps with no form to the wave.  So for my area sunrise is the way to go.  I will experiment with sunset and hope to get something but I don’t go often and definitely don’t plan my day around a sunset wave shoot.
  • Lighting is key:  Again depending on your area sunrise or sunset is going to give you the best lighting.  I go before the sunrises, as a matter of fact I am out there an hour early just to find my spot, get myself in the moment, get my gear ready without rushing and make all adjustments to the camera necessary to catch the first golden light of the morning.  About 30 minutes after sunrise, it is done.  I may stick around and enjoy the moment but once the sun is harsh, packing it up and saving the equipment is best.  I haven’t found sunset lighting to be all that great in my area but I am still hopeful.
  • Where to get good composition and don’t get you or your equipment wet:  Each site has its own merits but when visiting a new site, take note of the tides and the high and low marks of the shore.  Find the high marks as close to water as possible!  When shooting waves you want to shoot as parallel to the waves as possible this means shooting as close to the water as possible.  I don’t have a water housing…yet, and since that is the case I need to do everything to protect my gear.  Getting gear wet with sea water is no good and can ruin a day, week or even year by expensive repairs or replacement.  Good composition means good lighting as well and either having surfers in your shots or not in your shot, each has its merits but you need to take note of this.
  • Lastly take note of the spot to either cross off the list of “been there, done that, won’t go back” or “hmmm, that was good, note to self, got to hit that again soon”.  Experimentation is the only way to grow in your photography.  If you are not trying new things and places you just end up with thousands of photo’s of the same thing different day.  Yes I know, “waves are original and each is different from the last like a snow flake”  I get it.  But same scenery, same lighting, your photo’s to your viewers or clients will get old after a while.

These are all good ideas and just a few things I have taken note of in my own photography.

Right time, right day, right spot, how do you know?

  • Do your homework and use as many tools as possible before going out
  • Experiment with new areas, compositions and creative settings.  Take notes on what works and what doesn’t
  • Try different times of the day and watch your artistic lighting for the best results

Happy shooting!!

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