I get asked a lot about how I get the colors and wave shape that I get. This is a short tutorial about getting what you want out of your waveart photography.
First lets dismiss some of the myths:
No, this is not a painting. It is taken with a Canon 5d Mark IV.
Most of my shots are at 1/5 or 1/6 of a second shutter speed, which leads to the next myth buster.
Yes, these are shot handheld! The better the camera and lens the more stable you can be. When I first started shooting I did shoot everything with a tripod. But mobility is everything so working on the steady hand, steady stance along with a good lens that has good “IS” is important. Steady hand, firm stance will get you a long way.
With that said lets get to some of the pre-game planning:
Watch your surf report: I use Surfline and subscribe to their website. It gives me wave predictions 10 days out. Along with weather. As well as live video feeds from all around the world. I only need my small piece of the world but it is fun to see what is happening in Hawaii and beyond.
Find a good location with a good shapely break: Not every location is the best location. Not every big break is the best break for pictures. Look for lighting, where the sun rises or sets depending on your preference and how it lights the wave. Shape of the break has a lot to do with it. I live in So. Cal. The Wedge is one of the best places for surfing and boarding. But in my opinion for my type of photography it is not that good because of the shape of the break. Doesn’t make for a good cylinder.
Watch your lighting: I am out a first light and gone by sunrise. Best colors happen at that time.
Watch your wind speeds and directions: Know what works for you. On shore wind or offshore wind. Wind speeds over a certain amount and direction can make the waves choppy and not worth going out. Certain times of the day maybe windier and not worth the trip. For me in So. Cal. Mornings are the calmest wind, offshore breeze is the best wind. Sunsets in my area are always windy and not worth my effort to go out.
The closer to water the better: Working from a Jetty or pier works the best when shooting out of the water. Otherwise shooting from shore as parallel to the water as possible. Plan on getting wet if you are shooting from the shore, it is just the way it works. Shooting from a Jetty is the best in my opinion but still watch your breaks for water splashes. Nothing ruins a camera and lens more than salt water.
How do you get the motion: Pan with the wave. This takes practice, move at the waste not your hands or your head which makes for a steady panning motion.
In closing: Practice makes perfect or at least better. Scouting new spots is always cool, if the break isn’t that good, go on to the next spot. Takes time to find a spot that works to your specific shooting style.
Do your homework. Plan your trip the night before, watch Surfline a few days in advance to know the weather, wind and wave sizes. If you prepare you will get more out of your photography