Gear preparation for surf photography

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Gear preparation for surf photography

Postby Beat color » Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:31 am

One of the most important factors in creating perfect photos is the equipment. Preparing equipment before shooting is a must for each photographer. Especially in surf photography, when photographers have to take picture in the water. This article will give you a guide for surf photography equipment.

Surf vs. Diving Housing

Housings can be broken down into two main categories—surf and diving. Diving housings are mostly constructed from aluminum, feature access to many controls, and have the ability to add lots of artificial lights with strobes. Surf housings have lightweight forms which are constructed from a combination of ultra-light aluminum and polycarbonate. They are able to take a beating in the surf and be able to add on a pistol grip, which makes getting the image—while you’re getting tossed about—much easier than having to hold onto (two) handles.
If you’re deciding which housing is right for you, there’s a simple question to ask: Do you want to take it scuba diving? If that answer is yes, you’ll need a dive housing in order to prevent flooding. This dive housing can also function well in some watersports photography, generally when conditions aren’t too rough. Meanwhile, a surf housing is more than capable for freediving, shallow water activities and surf photography.

Lenses for Beginner Surf Photographers

Like underwater photography, surf photographers use a variety of lenses to suit a variety of purposes. But to start out, a medium-range focal length is ideal: The 50mm lens is among the most common. While even the most entry-level underwater photographer wants to get close to a subject, this can be more dangerous in surf photography when the subjects are massive waves and fast-moving surfers. Using around a 50mm focal length lets you fill the frame with the subject, without having to be within arm’s reach.
Once you’re comfortable in the waves (i.e., in the barrel or right behind it), then a fisheye will allow you to get even closer and produce an impactful image. Surf photographers often use wide-angle and tele-zooms, such as 24–70mm or 70–200mm. While these lenses are more versatile in changing conditions, they are also heavier and more cumbersome—better suited for an intermediate surf photographer.
Like underwater housings for interchangeable lens cameras, your surf housing will likely require a port specific to the lens (unless it’s a custom design). Surf housing ports either come in flat or dome form. The large domes are designed specifically for ultra-wide angle lenses to take split shots. Again, this is an advanced technique, so you’re better off starting with a compact lens like the 50mm and a compact port to match.

Accessories for Surf Photography

Perhaps the most important accessory for the new surf photographer is the pistol grip. This key accessory makes getting the image while you’re getting tossed about much easier than having to hold onto two handles. When you’re learning to understand how the waves behave while trying to take pictures, it can be tough to hold onto the side of a housing and press the shutter button while getting hammered by a wall of water.
A basic, two-stage pistol grip attaches underneath the housing, so you can hold it as if it were a handgun. With this you can more easily hold it out of the water as you brace for the wave.
Some surf photographers also utilize artificial strobe light to illuminate foreground subjects. Since strobe light only reaches so far, it’s usually used just with fisheye or ultra-wide angle lenses, which can be tricky to use for beginner surf photographers, as mentioned above.
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