Sunrise Surfing Photography Tips

Morning surf photography during the golden hour can yield stunning results with its soft, warm lighting. 

Every sunrise is an opportunity for incredible photography. Capturing stunning surfing photography at sunrise is an exhilarating experience! Below are some pro tips to help you create breathtaking shots.

To capture the best shots, try these 8 tips:

1. Equipment: Use a DSLR or mirrorless camera with a fast lens (e.g., f/2.8 or lower) for low-light conditions.

2. Settings: Opt for a wide aperture (low f-number) for a shallow depth of field. Set a fast shutter speed to freeze action. (I try never to go slower than 1/1250th of a second)

3. Composition: Frame your shots to include the waves, surfer, and the golden light reflecting on the water. Usually by getting lower you can create more depth in the image.

4. White Balance: I recommend playing with this slider whether on camera or in editing! Try adjusting your white balance to “Daylight” or “Shade” for warmer tones.

5. Tripod: Consider a tripod for stability in low light or slower shutter speeds… or if you’re going to be using a heavy camera/lens for a long period of time. Full disclosure, while I have a gimbal and tripod just for surfing photography, I don’t use it the majority of the time.

**This is for land-based surfing photography only. For water-based photographers, you definitely won’t be needing a tripod!

6. Patience: Wait for the perfect moment when a surfer catches a wave, and the light hits just right. Truly I think this is one of the most addicting parts of surfing photography – the sharpness and droplets of the waves, along with a surfboard carving through the open face of a beautiful wave.

7. Experiment: Try different angles, focal lengths, and settings to capture diverse shots. Experimenting is a must for all types of photography!

8. Editing: As always, post-processing can enhance your images in incredible ways. Play with colors, contrast, and sharpness to make your photos pop.

check out these pumpkin presets – perfect for sunrise surfing photos

Bonus: Arrive early, about 30 minutes before sunrise, to catch some silhouettes of surfers going into the water with the sunrise sky in the background. This is one of my favorite types of images to create!

Enjoy your Sunrise Surfing photography session during the golden hour! 

See my surfing photography portfolio here.

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