5 Surf Photography Tips in 2021

In recent years, surfing as a sport has become increasingly popular in many countries. Here are some tips on photography techniques applied to surfing for you that even as an amateur photographer, you can make the most of your equipment:


Nowadays, all digital cameras have a photometer, which measures the amount of light that reaches the camera's sensor. The sensor replaced the photographic film and is responsible for "capturing" the image. The photometer is that pointer around zero that varies according to the light input, indicating your photo exposure. So if the pointer is at zero, it means that your image is "balanced," and for surfing photographs, if you can keep the pointer at zero or a little more clear, it is enough for good photometry. And the three settings that regulate your camera's sensor exposure to light are the sensor's sensitivity to light, shutter speed, and aperture. To be able to adjust the three parameters, your camera must be in Manual mode.


The sensor's sensitivity parameter, which is called ISO, in the input cameras usually starts at 100 and goes up to 6,400, with the possibility of being expanded. Thus, the lower the ISO value in your configuration, the less sensitivity to light your sensor will have. In other words, if you want to take a photo in broad daylight, with the sun in full view, the ideal ISO setting will be 100. Especially because, the higher the ISO, the more noise is embedded in your image. Then, for surfing photographs, use the lowest possible ISO, maximum 400, to ensure good image quality.

Shutter Speed

The second parameter mentioned is your camera's shutter speed, measured in seconds, varying from the 30s to 1 / 4000s. The shutter speed adjustment is what gives the blurred effect in your photo, when used at low speed, or determines the complete freezing of the image where even the drops of water can be very clear. So speeds from 1 / 1000s will guarantee freezing of the image in critical and fast maneuvers such as strikes and aerials. In longboard photos or even for a more classic surfboard, slower shutter speeds from 1 / 640s can be used to freeze the image satisfactorily.

Diaphragm opening

The third parameter of photometry is the diaphragm's aperture, which is measured in "f / x" and is therefore inversely proportional to its value. The higher the value of x, the smaller the aperture and vice versa. In addition to regulating the amount of light that reaches the sensor, the aperture is responsible for regulating the depth of your photograph's focal field. The larger the aperture, the smaller the depth of field. But for surfing, even if you're shooting from the sand with an f / 2.8 aperture lens, the surfer and the wave will be fully focused. Except for underwater photographs, where the aperture between f / 4.0 and f / 8.0 is recommended A very important tip to get clearer photos, especially for those who use the most basic entry lens, is not to shoot at the maximum lens aperture. That is, if you use a 300mm lens with a maximum aperture of f / 5.6, try shooting at f / 6.3 or f / 7.1 and depending on the ambient light, and being careful not to raise the ISO too much. The same goes for lenses used in water, except for the 50mm f / 1.8 that performs better between f / 4.0 and f / 5.6.

Which Lens to Use?

If your camera has a built-in lens, try to use only optical zoom, as the digital zoom usually degrades the image. The range will depend on the type of camera you are using. And for those who use removable lenses, from 200mm onwards, you already have a reasonable range, working very well on peaks that break closer to the sand.