Pern's Ponderings

Check here periodically for my musings on photography. In this space, we'll explore how I achieved particular photographs, tips and tricks to get the most out of your camera or even just my thoughts on the world at large. 

Action on the water

A surfer finds a righteous wave with a heavenly glow during a recent swell in Narragansett, R.I. 

I've already written about how important anticipation is when it comes to getting a great shot and I recently had a chance to put that advice to good use.

The surf was up this weekend in Narragansett, R.I., and I knew there would be a good opportunity to get some action shots of the local wave riders. I headed out to an easily accessible surf spot with one of the better breaks in the area hoping to get some nice shots in the Golden Hour. 

I wasn't disappointed. 

With the tide and the waves cresting at their peak, it was a dynamite day on the water. 

Rapid frame rates on DSLR cameras make it easy to press the shutter, fire off a burst of shutters and hope for the best, but it also makes for a waste of time when it comes time to sift through 600 frames for the best shots. That's why knowing the image you want to get, and being ready to get it, is so important.

As the sun began to dip below the skyline, and the shadows stretched out onto the water, my images gently turned from warm to cool. While there were still some great opportunities to capture the surfers against the cool tones of the Atlantic, I still wanted one more warm-toned shot.

Surveying the break, I saw a bit of sunshine poking through the trees and illuminating a spot about 100 yards south of where I was set up. I knew if the right set came soon enough, I could expect a surfer to pass right through it. 

I metered the light, set my camera, took a test shot and was ready. With my camera set to shoot 1/1000 sec at f/6.3 and ISO 1000, I continued to watch offshore until I saw a set building. I spotted a surfer paddling hard for a wave, raised my camera to my eye and readied for the shot. When the surfer reached the light, I fired a three-shot burst and captured the image I was after.

The gallery below is full of examples of knowing what I wanted and being ready to capture it. The cruise ship, for instance, was a shot I waited 30 minutes to get while the boat slowly chugged into position.

Thankfully, the surfers were talented enough to give me some great action.