The light was cracking. You can’t beat morning sun light shining through early morning cloud cover for surf photographs – it just looks great! Especially at this location when, due to the way the wave breaks, it ends up being partly backlit by the sun. There was a brief period, only lasting a few minutes where the light took on this weird green cast as it shone through the clouds and reflected on the water and that gave everything a very surreal appearance.
So it’s half four in the morning as I drag my arse out of bed, I hastily make a cup of coffee and shove a bowl of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes down my throat. My gear is already packed, done the night before in preparation and after I load my Landrover I’m off for the short drive to the surf break.
The charts were looking good, the wind was right, the evening before had, according to a mate, been cranking, so all was looking right for a good session. The one thing against us is that the tides were small. As a result of this I couldn’t get as close as I would have liked to for some good action photographs. Even the 500mm I had couldn’t pull the surfers in close enough for decent frame filling action pictures, this was a shame, but the distance, due to the tides and the fact that this location is a difficult position to shoot from at the best of times for a good angle forced me to look at other options.
So to that end I decided to concentrate on some wider and more, hopefully, atmospheric shots to show the environment that the guys were surfing in. Before I made my way to the reef I set up a couple of off-camera flash shots that I needed for a project I have started recently. I posed up a couple of the best surfers in this area – Fraser Camfield (sitting) and Robbie Hildreth (standing) and with a single flash on a stand triggered with a pocket wizard I shot through a brolly and took their pictures.
Even though it is a bit of a cliche, a good sillo shot always works well and as I saw two other surfers walking over the reef I went into a position that would allow me to take one as they walked towards the waters edge.
Every surfer knows the value of stretching the muscles before a surf and I shot this picture below as he goes through his stretching routine. Initially I wanted to be closer but by the time I had made my way over closer to him he would have more than likely finished so I shot from where I was and in hindsight this was a better call as it shows his surroundings more I think.
Photographs of the paddle out to the line-up always work well here but again due to the distance I had to make the surfer more visible and this was best done by getting the picture as he crests one of the waves in the set. The hazy golden background against the dark foreground wave work well.
The surroundings at this particular break are awesome and make for great wide shots and really place the surfer in the environment which is exactly what I was after. Although this shot below was taken on the 500mm so I’m not sure if it falls exactly into a ‘wide shot’ category?!
As we walked back over the reef I was confident that I had some decent pictures. Not many action pictures this time due to the state of the tides but that’s the way it goes – the tides will always change. But it did allow me to work some different pictures than I might have done and on the whole I’m pleased with the results.