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Old Sep 29, 2010, 8:55 PM   #1
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Default Surfers

I think I've managed to capture a reasonable couple of surfer pictures. It's really hard to do since you can't control the lighting or use fill flash. Shooting in the middle of the day isn't a great time to shoot - too many shadows and the faces are dark (thank you JohnG, you've made it just about impossible for me to think much of surfing pictures taken at this time, even when there's some good action in them). My surfing shots are always going to be limited by both my lack of knowledge about the sport and my equipment (lack of a long enough lens).

Compare this set of two shots:

Going Up:

And Around Successfully:

I tried to lighten the surfer but was shooting jpg (for faster fps) and you are somewhat limited with what you can do with them.

Now compare them to this set, taken in the early morning:

Going Up:

Not so successful, a parting of the ways:

I think this next one is the most successful surfing picture I've managed. It might not have the action that the above pictures all show, but I like the lighting and the angle. And I got a reasonably good view of her face.

It's cropped quite a bit. If you want to see a reduced full frame version of the picture to see how much I had to crop, it's here: http://mtngal.zenfolio.com/p1024220954/eaca35ef .

Not everyone stays upright:

Finally, finished for the day.

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Old Sep 30, 2010, 4:05 AM   #2
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Great series Harriet
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Old Sep 30, 2010, 6:07 AM   #3
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Those are very nice Harriet, when I use to live out there I would go down to Huntington Beach and shoot off the pier to get the closest shots I could from a different angle. North of you, at Half Moon Bay there is a rock jetty that makes for a great place to get surfing shots also, anything to get out there where the action is instead of taking shots from the beach!

Your shots are great especially the one of the girl on the board. I found that the action shots depend on shooting lots of images and sorting through them at the end of the day to find a few that I liked.

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Old Sep 30, 2010, 7:12 AM   #4
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Ok, so you weren't on a board surfing right with them with your water proof housing and water proof external flashes ...........you've nothing to grovel about ! you used your equipment very well indeed. Nice exposure and the captured motion of the surfers and the water itself are very nice indeed.

MtnGal, I always like looking at your work, especialy you IR photos. Before hanging out here at steves I never really cared about IR but your consistantly cool shots have made me apreciate it . Now that brings me to a question since I have never shot IR and have little knowledge about it. What would some of these surfing shots looked like in IR? Would the water have caused the images to be too mono toned? Just a thought...........keep up the great work!!
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Old Sep 30, 2010, 7:40 AM   #5
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The shot of the girl is fantastic. A really useful series to demonstrate what a difference lighting makes. So people who want to shoot a sport like this and have flexibility - really shows hoc taking the shots earlier make a difference. I'm jealous - I'd love a chance to shoot surfing (ok I'd just love to be back on a beach where it's sunny, with or without surfers)
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Old Sep 30, 2010, 8:49 AM   #6
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For someone who freely admits they don't have expertise in the sport, you did really well. I have surfed for a lot of years and most surf picture series completely miss the important action. Numbers 1 and 2 are right there. Love to see crops. Three and 4 are wipeouts without anything special happening. Although not much in the way of action, the surfer girl makes for a pretty good portrait. Number 5 is just another wipeout. Wipeouts can be fun if they are really dramatic, otherwise they are just an example of not "making" the wave. Sharpness, focus and color are very good. Nice try.
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Old Sep 30, 2010, 1:24 PM   #7
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Excellent shots. You got some good close-ups, so the lens you used was not that short! It's very easy to create a halo effect when sharpening water pictures...but sharpness was perfect on all images. Great job!

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Old Sep 30, 2010, 10:36 PM   #8
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Thanks for the compliments, everyone.

JohnG - Thank you for so freely sharing your experience with shooting sports. If I hadn't read your advice numerous times (do you ever get tired of saying the same thing to all the new people who come along?), I wouldn't really understand what was wrong with the first two. And it's satisfying to hear you say what I was thinking - that the girl surfer is a pretty good picture (it's certainly the best I've managed so far).

pboerger - Since I've never surfed (due to a lack of opportunity) I have trouble anticipating good action. I have tons of boring shots or ones where I depended too much on continuous shooting and missed the critical moment. These were significantly cropped. They aren't 100% crops, but the first two are close to it.

Tom - Some of these were taken from a jetty. It was really useful for the girls, it was the next day and the surf was breaking so they were heading toward the jetty more. The day before the waves were breaking slightly differently so the guys were heading away mostly. They were having some type of surfing competition (NSSA?) so those involved were doing a lot of surfing (and action type moves).

Tullio - I often use Topaz Lab's Detail for sharpening since it creates sharpness more by changing contrast, rather than the normal line around the edges. One of the limitations of the K-7 is that it doesn't have the greatest dynamic range (the Kx is better). I chose to underexpose the shots to not blow out the waves, but that's hard on the shadows and sometimes I thought Detail (even using the protect shadows) sometimes didn't give what I wanted so I went back to my old stand-by - 2 passes with USM, one using 0.1 pixel and 120 or so (fine sharpening) and a second one using 55 pixels and 10% for contrast sharpening (or settings around there, I have an action set up to do it). There were some pictures that responded better to that method than to Detail (but they were exceptions to the usual).

bock - I only briefly thought about taking my IR outfit. My problem is that I use an unmodified K100 and a Hoya R72 filter, which means shutter speeds around 1 second, more or less, in good light. I didn't want to carry a third camera (my other half took the K20) and mess with the filter and step-up rings. Also, I'm not sure that I would get anything better than just converting a regular color picture. IR shots are unusual because they record reflected infrared, and trees and plants are the most common source. There's not much at the beach I was at (no overhanging palm trees) to add contrast. And since the shutter speeds would be very slow, there wouldn't be much for surf. Maybe next time I go I'll throw in the set-up, just to see what happens.

Tullio - these were taken with the DA*300 and all shots cropped significantly. I really need a longer lens to shoot surfing properly, either 400 or longer. Of course, then you are talking tripods or monopods at a minimum and all of these were hand-held.
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Old Sep 30, 2010, 10:52 PM   #9
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A really great series. The comparison between the mid-day and the early morning shots is stunning. And the "close up" of the girl is fantastic!
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Old Oct 1, 2010, 12:16 AM   #10
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im perplexed i know i commented on these but perhaps my connection dropped and it didnt actually go through.

this is a great series. You seemed to snap at the perfect times. You have great composition with waves/surfers and managed to capture some great detail of the fast action.

are you wanting a TC even more after shooting this?
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