4 Tips to Photograph a Pro Surf Comp

Getting down to Bells Beach to photograph the Rip Curl Pro was an opportunity that could not be missed and as always, I learn things along the way that if I had known them before hand might have helped get over some obstacles. These are the four lessons I learned and you can include them in your planning to photograph a Pro Surf Comp.

A long lens is needed and longer the better!

Where the surfers are depends on the tides, and at low tide they are a long way out. Even with a 400mm lens on a Nikon D810, I was struggling to capture the action and as a result had to crop the images to achieve the result I wanted. Not everyone has a long lens readily available due to the cost associated however if you and a group of buddies’ team up and rent an appropriate lens, split the costs and share the lens during the event creates an opportunity to capture epic shots.

Bells Beach 2019

Track the surfer

Pro surfers move quick in the water because they are trying to make use of every second available to score points, so tracking them once they start their run will allow you to capture their incredible surfing skills as they happen.

Kelly Slater Bells Beach 2019

Not all the action is in the water!

Sometimes the action is not in the water or out the back of the break but its right in front of you on the beach, therefore, if your set up and ready to go with a willing buddy to look after your gear, you can race off to where the surfer is coming up onto the beach and capture moments not normally captured.

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Memory

On average, over 1000 high res photos were captured every day therefore I highly recommend that you bring an extra memory card or two. They should be high quality and can handle being written to at high speed.

Bonus Tip – Get There Early

Something that is not normally covered is that you should, if possible get there early, not because they start early but there will be hordes of photographers clambering to get the best vantage spot all trying to capture that epic moment.

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Just a few photographers

Feel free to let me know what other tips and ideas you have to photograph an event.

 

Crop to Improve

All of our smartphones have cameras and we take them with us every where we go which has snapping 1000’s of photos every year but have you ever wondered what could make some of those photos better?

One of the techniques available to hep improve your photos is the cropping tool. This technique can help remove unwanted distractions, assist with framing or isolate the subject from the background.

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The above image was taken using a smartphone (left handed…not easy) however there are quite a lot of distractions or rubbish around the edges such as the tail of a seagulll and part of a wing. Cropping the image removes those unwanted distractions and focuses the viewer on the subject.

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The result is a cleaner look, almost no distractions and the subject isolated from the background. To further improve the image, the seagull in the back ground could be cloned out using snapseed or a similar app however there was never any intention to print the image and only post to social media.

The challenge to you is to search through the gallery on your phone and try cropping an image to remove unwanted distractions and refine your image. Please post a link to your copped image in the comments below so I and others can check them out.

Happy cropping

 

5 Tips to Maintain Your Camera Gear

Welcome to 2019, I hope everyone had a great Christmas and a Happy New Year. I’m going to kick 2019 off with 5 tips to help you maintain your camera gear, these tips are pretty simple and real easy to do.

Tip 1 – Defeat Mould

silica gel packs

Mould and condensation can be camera and lens killers. It will develop and you won’t even notice that its growing until its to late, potentially resulting in expensive maintenance or replacement. The best and cheapest method to defeat mould is to drop in a few silica gel packs to your camera bag. They suck up excess moisture in the air reducing the likelihood of mould growing and here’s a little known secret, they can be re-used by chucking them in the microwave for 20 – 30 seconds giving them a new leasse on life.

Tip 2 – Hot Car, Hot Sun – No Good.

Have you ever left your smartphone in the car on a hot sunny day only to come back to find that it wont work or its to hot to even pick up? Leaving your camera gear in a hot car can result in the same damage and can increase battery temperatures and can cook your electronics creating irrerapable damage. Where possible, don’t leave your camera gear in the car for extended periods and if need be, take it with you. You never know when the next photo opportunity might present itself.

Tip 3 – The beach has plenty of Sand…..

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Oh the beach – there is so much sand just waiting to damage your gear, especially when the perosn next to you stands up and shakes all of the sand out of their towel however damage can be avoided by doing some simple things like putting the lens cap back on or putting the camera away when not being used and try not to change lenses as the sand is blown down the beach. Also available at camer stores are lens protection filters or polarising filters. these screw onto the lens and provide a lot of protection. Sometimes  getting sand into your camera gear is unavoidable and my suggestion is to purchase a rocket blower to blow the sand out after you have spent a day at the beach. They are pretty inexpensive and can be purchased in all good camera stores.

Tip 4 – Rain/Wet Conditions

Just because its pouring rain outside doesn’t mean that you should leave your camera at home. Most cameras today are weather sealed to some extent but not all cameras will have the same level of weatherproofing. The very high end DSLR or Mirrorless cameras (Nikon D850, Canon MkIII, Fujifilm XT3) will have the best weather sealing however the lower end models may have a reduced weather sealing capability. You can reduce the amount of water on your camera by carrying an umbrella or place a plastic bag over the camera to provide some protection but if you intend on shooting in wet conditions, carry a dry cloth so you can periodically wipe it dry. This reduces the likelihood of the camera suffering water damage.

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Tip 5 – Get it professionally cleaned

The professional photographers do it, so why shouldn’t you? Your camera gear deserves the same amount of love the pros give their gear. A good service will clean all surfaces inside and out removing any dirt, dust and sand, clean the sensor, view finder and if required a firmware update can be installed making your camera like new again.

I hope that you find these tips useful and would love to know what tips you have to keep your camera gear in top working order.

Happy Shooting and Happy New Year.

Change Your View, Get Down Low

Need to spice up your photography, you can do just one thing and its free. Try getting down low to see the world in a whole new way.

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By putting your camera on the floor, and if your camera has the feature, tilt the rear screen upwards to help you compose the shot, if not shoot blind and see what you get. I used this technique to capture those odd non slip plastic knobs in a new way.

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or try laying down on the floor so you can photograph the sleeping family dog. Scout, our family Border Collie is pretty hard to sneak up on but doesn’t mind being photographed.

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By squatting or kneeling down and letting the subject come to you will help you capture moments that you would not normally see from a standing position.

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Don’t afraid to use man made structures to help provide a stable platform to photograph from. Try placing your knee or elbow hard up against a wall will reduce camera shake while squatting or kneeling to assist in composing your shot to capture that moment.

And don’t forget if you have small children, get down to their level to photograph them. It will change your view of the world through your photos.

Feel free to post a link in the comments to your down low photos as I would enjoy seeing what you come up with.

From the Archives

Updating my photo library from Capture One Pro 11 to Version 12 had me scrolling through the photos which had been taken throughout 2018. The total number is just under 2500. Not all photos have been accounted for though because film has also been shot this year (30 – 40 photos) and the amount of photos stored on my smartphone is unknown as 2018 is not over just yet but I suspect that there will be approximately 200 – 300 photos bringing the number to just under 3000.

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I took these photos in Febuary on Cottesloe Beach, with two of the three photos being shared on Instagram however there is another 100 or so remaining that need to be processed or rejected and then deleted.

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What do with all of the photos that we take, some are shared with friends and family but how many photos just sit in a digital library either on your phone or on a hard drive somewhere. Forgotten about?

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How many photos do you have in your photo library and when was the last time you looked through them?

 

The Search for the Holy Grail of Camera Bags

I hadn’t bought myself something new for quite some time (the second hand car I bought is not new so that doesn’t count) so I started the search for a new camera bag as I really wanted to move away from a back pack and figuring that it could be a Christmas present that would actually see some use.

Don’t get me wrong the back pack has served me pretty well over the years. Its been completely wet from a torrential down pour but has still managed to keep my camera gear dry(ish) and has carried an array of gear including a 17″ tablet/laptop, wallet, phone, food, water bottles, business cards, jackets and then some camera gear such as my Nikon DSLR, lenses, flash gun, filters, cable release, back up batteries and memory cards. It gets pretty heavy because I know that I can jam so much into it I carry a lot, a lot of unnecessary stuff that I didn’t need at all.

So I decided that the the bag had to meet a criteria with the intent to narrow the choices down.

  1.     Have quick access to the camera (and be able to put it away with ease)
  2.     Be able to carry a DSLR plus lenses, plus some other gear like phone, wallet, tablet/laptop
  3.     Be sturdy and have comfy shoulder strap(s)
  4.     Be able to not be readily identifiable as a camera bag.
  5.     Made in Australia (not a must but a nicety)

20160112_095234So I started the search with the criteria in mind and to much amazement the amount of choices now available is incredible from bags with wheels, back packs, shoulder or satchel bags to small point and shoot bags. It was during the search I was told about a company making these cool bags called No more Ugly Camera Bags and they were fantastic. So I stopped procrastinating and ordered a bag. I felt as thought I had found the Holy Grail of Camera bags. The bag seemed to meet all the criteria that had been set.

Within a few days of placing my order the bag arrived and I tore open the packaging like a 5 year old on Christmas morning…………and I was immediately disappointed.

It looked like a handbag. Now there is nothing wrong with handbags at all, in fact my Wife has a handbag (actually a whole cupboard full of them) and well, I don’t use handbags! Recovering from the shock of ordering a handbag camera bag I decided that I should take a good look at it and see if it is functional and could be used, purely for scientific and research purposes and this is what I quickly realised:

  • Its to feminine
  • It still looks like a handbag
  • It won’t fit my DSLR (with battery grip)
  • Large is, well not large enough

20160112_095119Overall, the bag is beautiful, well crafted and extremely well priced for under $90 but its not for me. I simply can’t get past it being to feminine and looking like a handbag. So before I send it back I thought that I may offer it up to you guys. I reckon $70 (AS Dollars & plus postage) is a fair price and if I get no takers I’ll send it back on Monday. Feel free to contact me about it.

Now I’ve heard my Wife say this in the past and now I would have to agree with her but I am now pretty much resigned to the fact that you can’t simply have one camera bag but you need a camera bag for each purpose.

So now the search continues for the Holy Grail of Camera Bags.

8 Feet


Recently at a theme park, mine and our long time friends climbed aboard a ride that shot straight up into the air, instead of photographing their expecting faces of the anticipated terror and fear I decided to shoot it differently from another angle. I figure that the good old family outing photos don’t have to be boring or even self explanatory but they can be different.