Joel Coleman and The Perfect Wave have been working together for sometime now. Joel started his photographic career early shooting sports carnivals for his school magazine at 14 and, by age 17, he was photographing professionally around attending school. Then in his 20’s, working as a dive instructor he experimented and honed his under water photography skills, which now make up a large part of his key collection of images.
Joel is based in Sydney, Australia, he is a surfer, mentor, teacher, a published author and videographer.
Joel’s affinity with the water is evident in his photography. His artworks can be found at his Saltmotion Gallery in the Sydney beachside suburb of Manly. Outside of his gallery edition artworks, Joel works with companies on commercial photography projects, providing them with still photography and/or videography at locations around the world.
Currently Joel is in the Maldives with The Perfect Wave, working with the team and clients on-board the The Perfect Wave Carpe Diem. We managed to catch up with him and ask for some top surf trip photographic tips.
1. Straight Horizons
Nothing screams ‘amateur photographer’ like a skewed horizon. Most cameras will have an option to turn a grid reference on through the viewfinder. This will give you a good visual reference when composing your photograph. Some modern digital SLR cameras even have a digital spirit level that will display on screen, which is great when using a tripod. If none of these options are available to you, just do your best to keep the horizon straight.
2. Use a ‘fill flash’ when photographing portraits into the sun or bright light
If you have ever tried to get a good image of someone with a nice sunrise or sunset as the background then you have probably come across the issue of the sunrise being correctly exposed but the people being in shadow or silhouetted against the background. To fix this you can pop-up the flash on the camera and use it as a ‘fill flash’ it wont effect anything more than a few feet from the camera so it will fill in those deep shadows nicely without ruining the colours of the background.
3. Keep your equipment clean and free of dust
Digital cameras are precision pieces of equipment and need to be treated with a little respect. Even tiny particles of dust on the lens or the sensor can result in unsightly black circles on your photographs. If using a digital SLR, take care when changing lenses to avoid getting dust in the chamber of the camera. Keep your equipment in a decent quality camera bag and carry a few cleaning cloths and a blower with you to keep the dust away.
4. Using shutter speeds
Try to move away from the automatic modes on your camera. A good place to start with this is trying to get some action shots, start with the ‘Tv’ setting. This stands for ‘Time Value’ and refers to the shutter speed, or the amount of time the shutter is open, allowing light to reach the sensor. Fast shutter speeds will stop action, such as waves or people surfing. As a rule of thumb anything over 1/1000 of second is fast enough to stop the action in the surf.
5. Read the instructions
Yes, that book that came with your camera actually has some really useful information in it! In fact it is possible to learn more from the instruction book than from many photography courses. Start at page one and work your way through. Trust me, the effort will be equaled by the reward. While the basic principles of all cameras remain the same, each make and model has subtle variances that, once learnt, will allow you to really take control of your camera and achieve the results you are after.
Dear readers, if you have any surf photo tips or great pictures you have taken at your home break or on a surf trip please feel free to share them. We would love to hear your comments and see your pictures.