One of My favourite images – Flying Free

Posted by on Mar 2, 2014 in Favourite Image | 0 comments

One of My favourite images – Flying Free

I have been a mad keen surfing photographer for quite a few years now. I am attracted to this type of photography for the fast paced action and the chance to capture something different every time I go out. The other thing that draws to this type of photography is reliving my youth when surfing was one of favorite past-times.

The image Flying Free captures the moment that a surfer is exiting the wave by launching himself over the top. I enjoy this photo because shows the wild abandon with which the surfer is enjoying his sport, you great a strong impression of the movement on power involved in the sport through the height that he has obtained over the wave. The fact that you can see the board and leg rope clearly helps to link the surfer and the wave.


Given the distances involved and the speed of the action I made a number of specific equipment purchases to assist with my surfing photography:

– A Sigma 100-300mm lens with a constant aperture of f4. This long reaching lens with a fast aperture allows for good shots in low light but is very heavy

– Canon 7D camera – this camera has a high frames per second rate allowing the capture of fast action in quick bursts.

– Carbon fibre mono-pod – Given the weight of the Sigma lens this is a must for a long day of beach photography.

When shooting surfing photos I tend to keep a similar formula for the settings on the camera. I use Shutter speed priority (Tv on a canon camera) and I select a speed of around 1/1000 to 1/1500 of a second. I select this speed because I know that it will freeze the action allowing us to see facial expressions of the surfers.

As with everything in photography it is a matter of timing to get the good shots, you can see below a number of images taken leading up the the favorite photo.


In the first photo we can clearly see the the surfers expression as he realises that his wave is running out. While this image has great personal contact for me, I think the impact to the viewer is lessened without the wider appreciation of what is about to happen.


In this immediately prior to the more preferred image (less than 1 second earlier) we see that the surfer has broken to the top of the wave, this while still exciting leaves the surfer in a portion of the photo that is still very busy.

With surfing photography it can be a lot of trial and error whilst learning to get good shots, things happen so fast that a fraction of a second can make the difference between a good image and a great image. As always I encourage you to get an give it go, it might just become your favorite photography style as well.


Ken Dickson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *