Sunset Surf Photos

— on September 4, 2018 by in Surfing

If I’m honest, today was my second day trying surfing photography. I played around once a week or two ago mid-afternoon with not great light. I’ve been waiting for an evening with appropriate weather and when I’m free to head out and try it at sunset.

Buff surfer catching a wave in La Jolla at the Scripps Pier

Last night, the overcast/marine layer that blanketed us all day broke up around sunset, so I headed out to the Scripps Pier.

Get Closer

As with any action photography using a wide angle lens, getting close is the key. Luck, planning and some friendly surfers that weren’t bothered to buzz me put me plenty close a few times. The fun part of this is that right after I click the shutter, I’m hit by the wave they are surfing. At least one time I got hit HARD and smashed my left hand into the camera housing bad enough to sting for a few minutes. I almost lost my mask a few times but that is normal in surf.

La Jolla Scripts Pier Surfing at Sunset - Photo from in the water.

La Jolla Scripts Pier Surfing at Sunset - Photo from in the water.

La Jolla Scripts Pier Surfing at Sunset - Photo from in the water.

We are on the west coast [reference needed], so sunset surfing means back-light. I shot some of the image as silhouette and others I tried to balance the images.

I want a surfer coming almost directly out of the sun/sunset but that never really happened. It turns out that waves tend to block the sky when you are at water level and they are between you and the sky. This is as close as I got and it works I think. I’m not as close to the surfer as I’d like to be and the moment isn’t great. His position isn’t what I want in the photo.

Surfer against the sunset at La Jolla Pier.

La Jolla Scripts Pier Surfing at Sunset - Photo from in the water.

Of course I ended up taking a landscape photo floating in the water. The Scripps pier adds a little bit of interest to the photo, but maybe I’d like it more without it. I’ll have to try this photo again from the other side of the pier.

La Jolla Scripts Pier Surfer Looking at Sunset.

If anyone is wondering, I took these with a Nikon D810 and Nikon 28mm f/1.4 lens in an Ikelite housing with 8 inch dome port. Next time I’ll probably try my 14-24mm but getting close enough for 14mm is going to be tough.

Failing Upward

I took a lot of bad photos and a lot of mediocre photos. I got a few good photos. Surfing photography (at least in the water) is hard and involves a decent amount of luck based on my first two attempts. Of course, you can make your own luck. At the end of the day you have to position yourself just after the point the surfers are up on the board. You need them to basically buzz you. To do that, you have to guess which direction they will go (which isn’t impossible but isn’t 100% consistent).

And of course, you are looking through a mask, an underwater housing, a viewfinder and lens and an acrylic port possibly splashed with water. I was also shooting at f/2.0. All that results in a lot of missed focus or blurred photos due to water on the dome port.