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Not to sound too deep or weird, but I think that the times when you really appreciate surfing are the times you’re really sort of becoming one with nature. Surfing’s as raw of a sport as it gets.
Kelly Slater

I have a close friend who’s an amazing surfer, and a few weekends ago I set out to see if I could capture some nice shots of her in action. Ali’s a beach babe and is part mermaid at heart; surfing is one of her favourite things to do in her spare time. My favourite photo of Ali is the one above, I love the splash that appears as she goes through the wave. The following five photos are also of Ali in action.

The rest of the photos are all random surfers who were out on the water that weekend. Out of them, I particularly noticed the man with the beard. He just had the biggest smile on his face almost the whole time he was surfing. You can see it in my first shot of him, where he’s paddling. At times he was actually laughing with joy as he surfed.

I was also struck by how focused all of the surfers I photographed that weekend were. I could see it in their faces. They were intensely in the moment with their surfing, with the world left onshore all but forgotten.

Scroll down for my surf photography, followed by some photography notes.

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Photography notes

These photos were taken with my Nikon D3200 and a Nikon AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G VR lens, which I had on hire for a weekend to photograph Water Polo by the Sea.

I feel like I gained a pretty good understanding of just how difficult sports photography can be that weekend! It’s really difficult tracking a fast-moving target around while trying to get a close-up shot! Add squinting in the sun and the weight of the camera gear and it’s an even more challenging exercise!

I found it was really useful to anchor my arms against something, to help me hold the incredibly heavy lens. I tried leaning against walkway railings, the ground and sitting down and leaning my elbows on my knees. The best shots I got were at Bronte, where there are a few vantage points above the surfers with railings available to lean on.

I found using a telephoto lens really chewed through my camera batteries. I ended up buying another spare that weekend to compensate. I think using this lens halved my battery life at least, in comparison to how long it lasts when I’m using one of my other lenses.

I shot in RAW, and then in Camera Raw dialed up the contrast a lot, the clarity a bit and the vibrance a bit. This resulted in much clearer photos. All of the light bouncing off the water made this pretty necessary as it washed things out a bit.

2 comments on “Let’s go surfing now…”

  1. These are absolutely sensational. I love the one of your friend cresting- which has such power- contrasted with the last shot of her sitting waiting- which has such stillness.

    Also you should try and contact that dude- I’m sure he’d love to see these, he looks so happy!

    • Thanks so much! It was a lot of fun taking them!
      I thought about it, but I’m not sure how I would find him! Haha I think I’ve put it on Instagram as well, maybe he’ll find it through a hashtag one day.

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