How To Take Surfing Pictures With Studio Lighting

I've taken small strobes out into the ocean to shoot kiteboarders in the past and it wasn't a huge success. My assistants were getting bashed by waves and the small strobes just aren't powerful enough to really show up in the day.

Robert Snow had a much better plan though. He decided to go to a wave pool where the waves always break in the same spot and set up beefy studio lighting on the land.

Wave Pool Shoot from Cavin Brothers on Vimeo.

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Erik V's picture

Haha I did this years ago, same wave pool in Orlando, when we rented it out for a friend's birthday. Only difference is we used SB800s in Ziploc bags and an old Nikon D200. I'll have to dig out the shots.

Ollie Denny's picture

This is Brilliant. It Really shows you what happens when you think outside the box!!

Simon's picture

That's awesome ! Some Phantom slow-mo shots could have beem cool too.

Nina's picture

This is pretty awesome...I love the ocean, but the lighting and the color of the wave pool is fun.

Nathan O'Kane's picture

First of all that kid a beast at boarding! Great idea and almost perfect I think, but there is certainly some underexposure problems on the front of him. Maybe next time.

Alfonso Pajares's picture

The wave pool in Orlando is Disney's Typhoon lagoon. It's one of the two Disney water parks.

scott's picture

Surf shooting can be done from land with speedlights. Dave Black does it here with a four square and high speed sync. In fact he does some very impressive sports shooting with multiple small flashes, high sync and ganging.

DPC's picture


@scott - Nice find with the Dave Black site! A LOT of good information and tutorials in his "Workshop at the Ranch" section. Wish the site layout was little more modern, but I guess content is king!

8 x SB900's = almost $4k.. not to mention having to deal with 32+ AA batteries. :-O

scott's picture


I can do the same thing (only because I saw his lead) with $600 worth of Canon 550EX's, they high speed sync, have good output and are older generation so are comparatively cheap but have all the functionality of the newest units, you can use a 15m ETTL cord to trigger the first flash as a commander, this will trigger all the others so no need for Radio Poppers either. Not quite the same, but very usable, and most people have a couple of on brand speedlites. Haven't found a battery work around yet though!

Greg's picture

That is some sick riding, and even better shots. Very Well done all around.

Arcade Original's picture