How To Take Pictures Of Waves – Water Photography

World renowned surf photographer Todd Glaser in the lower right hand corner getting a final shot of a wave before it cleans us both up. The fisheye lens I used to take this picture isn’t designed for shooting waves over 20 feet away.. this wave is about 30 feet from us.

I posted this single wave sequence (below), to explain how to get an image inside of a big-ass barrel. It may not seem like it (because I’m shooting with an ultra-wide fisheye lens), but this wave is quite a bit taller than an average sized house.

First – Check your general positioning in the lineup (use objects on the beach and surfers in the water to judge what part of the impact zone you’re sitting in). Check your camera settings to ensure they are appropriate for the wave speed and lighting conditions. Always look for a potential set wave outside.

Second – Adjust your positioning in the lineup to where you predict the wave will break.

Third – While keeping an eye on the wave’s lip, glance at your waterhousing to make sure there are no water spots or bubbles on the port. Swim under the lip without producing a wake or splashes that will degrade your image.

Fourth – Turn your camera in the direction you think the wave will look best against the light. If you are shooting while turning the camera (which is what I’m doing here), turn slowly and fluidly otherwise your photo will be blurry.

Fifth – Get your 6-pound camera under the lip before you loose an arm! This frame is where I usually start shooting – as the lip is hucking.

Sixth – Keep the horizon straight, camera high out of the water, pointed up, and snag a keeper shot.

Seventh – Attempt to take a final glory shot before ducking through the back of the wave. In big surf it’s essential to kick through the wave with everything you’ve got to prevent getting sucked over the falls, bashed into the ocean floor (possibly breaking your housing), and caught inside for a series of tiresome beatings.

*Eighth – Post it on Instagram and Facebook for a small handful of “likes.” :)

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