I think one of the most important things I’ve learned in creating imagery with an impact is to anticipate what could happen next. I do this when I’m photographing children, although I never really know what’s going to happen, I do know that something will happen.
Early December I found myself in Oahu, Hawaii on the north shore of the Island photographing the Pipeline Master’s Competition. This is an International surfing competition that is by far one of the most exciting events I’ve had an opportunity to photograph.
Using Sigma’s 18-250mm lens, I choose a very fast shutter speed at 1/2000 sec, F9.0 aperture and then compensated for additional light with an ISO of 640. These settings were all geared to make sure that my images were tact sharp and that I could stop the action while still getting an almost perfect exposure. Sigma’s 18-250 lens responded perfectly to the fast speed I was using and even from that distance, the images were crystal clear. During the early morning hours, just as the sun was coming up, my settings varied from ISO 160-640. My aperture and shutter speed also changed from F 7.1 at the lowest to my shutter speed set at a minimum of 640.
Once the surfing started, I did my best to anticipate when and if the surfers would make it through the curl of the wave. First they would need to catch the wave at the right time. If they could make it through that first part, then riding through the curl would be the final phase. There were times when you could no longer see anyone through the curl of the water and then all of a sudden a surfboard would break through and a surfer would appear. Anticipating this, and following the waves in the hopes that this would happen, I stood ready to photograph the second that surfboard appeared. These images were some of my favorites of the day.
During one of the breaks in the competition, I found myself staring right at a beautiful rainbow in the splash of the crashing waves. This image below is one of many that I was able to capture that morning.
Finally at the end of the ride, a lone surfer decides to take a break. Once again, it’s so early in the morning, the sun light is just barely coming through the clouds creating lines of shadow and sunlight with just enough light falling on the surfer illuminating only his face.
My final image of the day, Kelly Slater wins his 7th Billabong Pipe Masters over Vans Triple Crown winner John John Florence. His run was amazing, but the final image when he knew he had won was my favorite. I had followed the entire run, shooting the whole time, anticipating which direction he would go in and waiting for the reaction.