Surfin' USA

February 12, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

During my last road trip to California, I had an opportunity to photograph some surfers. My first attempt was near the San Clemente Pier. The light was good and the surfers were relatively close to me. But, most of the surfers were having trouble staying on their board and didn't look particularly balanced. I don't know anything about the sport, but I knew that I wasn't seeing much action.

After a while, one of the better surfers approached me. He told me the more advanced surfers were at a beach further south. He recommended Lower Trestles because professional surfers were practicing there for an upcoming competition. The only downside was the beach is about a mile from the parking lot. The distance wouldn't ordinarily be an issue for me, but walking part of that distance in loose sand wasn't much fun with the 500mm lens over my shoulder.

I enjoyed watching the surfers at Lower Trestles. Even to my untrained eye, it quickly became apparent that the surfers were quite talented. One surfer in particular, stood out. I was later told that his name is Jeremy Flores. He is ranked as one of the top surfers in the world and came in from France for the competition. Here's one of the pictures that I captured of him:

Jeremy FloresJeremy FloresJeremy Flores from France, one of the top surfers in the world, at Lower Trestles at San Onofre State Beach in San Clemente, California on August 7, 2016

I also captured some images of another surfer who stood out to me. Later, I learned that his name is Masaki Kobayashi.

Masaki KobayashiMasaki KobayashiMasaki Kobayashi surfing at Lower Trestles at San Onofre State Beach in San Clemente, California on August 7, 2016

One of the challenges that I faced was my camera. I use just one camera these days and that's the Nikon D800. It's a wonderful camera (particularly for the main subjects of my trip--architecture and landscapes), but it's not designed for action. The camera creates high resolution pictures--and those take a while to push through the camera. As a result, the frame rate during a burst is very slow. During this photo shoot, I took just one exposure at a time and hoped that my timing was good enough, and lucky enough, to capture the right body position, expression and peak action. With a faster camera, such as Nikon's new D500, the chances of coming away with a strong image increase due to the frame rate. It's more likely to get the right shot when you have 10 chances in a second.

In any event, I was pleasantly surprised with the pictures that I came away with that day while using my Nikon D800. Of course, I would prefer a faster camera body for surfing. But, I don't shoot surfing often enough to justify the purchase. My hope is that Nikon will soon offer a successor to the D800 which will include a faster frame rate as well as other improvements. I've been shooting with the D800 for five years now and anticipated that the new camera would be announced last Fall--but that didn't happen. Hopefully Nikon will announce a great new camera for the year of its 100th anniversary (2017)!

To view more of my surfing photographs, please CLICK HERE.



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