Camera settings

dustbowl-surfer's picture
dustbowl-surfer started the topic in Monday, 23 Aug 2010 at 12:56am

Hey guys
im new to this photographing thing
I have a nikon d5000
and am wondering what settings you guys run while taking pics of surfers etc

If anyone could give me a hand this would be great
Cheers Sam

jaffa1949's picture
jaffa1949's picture
jaffa1949 Wednesday, 25 Aug 2010 at 1:41am

Not completely familiar with the nikon so some general advice.
Go out with the camera on an automatic setting usually the sports setting. as the automatic function shows up in the view finder memorise better still write down the setting especially with different lenses and lighting.
The presets in any camera are a great place to start your learning , read the instructions lots of explanation there. get your photos back to a screen or on your computer, look at them critically ie; too light too dark often the computer program will give you the setting under which picture was taken, adjust your ideas.
FFS it's digital so you have it a lot easier than film it doesn't cost to see your mistakes.

In short from your book learn about ASA ISO and appeture settings,
lastly if you tweak in any photography program you know you are doing well when there is very little to do to the shot in the program.

bookster's picture
bookster's picture
bookster Wednesday, 25 Aug 2010 at 6:48am

A good guide for decent exposure is to meter off the "green" whitewater. If the camera reads exposure off the whitewater, your photos will underexpose, while metering off the wave (especially when backlit) will blow out the whitewater. Set your camera to Manual mode, and take various exposure readings, then lock in what gives you a nice middle of the road reading... I posted this a few years ago over at realsurf which may help you:

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Wednesday, 25 Aug 2010 at 7:32am

Wow, what a blast from the past Bookster, seeing some of the old posters 5 years ago is crazy!

Bookster's tips are great. Also with surfing it's fast paced and as a result you want a fast shutter speed to capture the action sharply. usually hand held above 1/500th of a second is good if you have a steady hand (some can do even lower and get sharp images).

But if you're looking to experiment you can try a speed blur where you lower the shutter speed and pan with the surfer to keep them sharp but get a blurry/hazy wave.

The best way to learn is to get out there and try all the different settings and read the book! These days you can do it cheaply as Jaffa said, with no cost from wasting rolls of film and processing.

Trust me, once you start playing around you'll be hooked for life!

ndpsurf's picture
ndpsurf's picture
ndpsurf Monday, 30 Aug 2010 at 7:28am

This is a good question and some good tips above.

I am not fimilar with the nikon cameras, but sometimes the auto modes will not allow you to set certain functions that are useful.

I usually set the camera to aperture priority as the aperture will determine the shutter speed. In good light, you should be able to get a decent shutter speed of around 1/2000s at iso100 or 200.

You may have a telephoto lens and want to take pictures of the surfers, set the autofocus drive to Ai servo focus (this is what canon calls it dont know about nikon), but it is the focus mode that will continuously focus and track an object. That way you can hold the shutter button down and take pictures that will be infocus on the object you track.

I usually use high speed drive mode, it may be 3-5or more frames/second. Its good to capture a few shots of the action and pick the best one.

In terms of metering, it can be difficult when shooting from land, especially if the sun is coming from the side or infront. I would start using the basic metering mode- this is the evaluative metering which takes light strngth from all parts of the frame and exposes on average. If you find that the surfer is in too much shadow as the rest of the picture is bright, you may like to dial up the exposure compensation, which then exposes a certain amount above the settings, so that the surfer becomes a little brighter and you can see the detail.

I have tried using spot metering on my camera, but find that it can be inconsistant as white spray may get infront of the surfer and the camera will cause the whole picture to be dark. Center weight average metering may also be good, as it will be less inclined to cause massive variation in the exposure.

Good advice is try out each metering mode, and maybe dial in some exposure compensation if one mode is over or under exposing. Keep shutter speed decently fast if you want to stop the action, 1/1000s will be easily manageable during the day, and if it gets darker increase the iso accordingly. If you find the shutter speed is quite fast, you may want to narrow the aperture to maybe f/6.3 or f/8 as most cheaper telephoto lenses will not be at thier sharpest at the maximum aperture (usually f/5.6).

Have fun :)

dustbowl-surfer's picture
dustbowl-surfer's picture
dustbowl-surfer Sunday, 5 Sep 2010 at 11:26pm

Thanks for all the advice guys!
really helps! havent been down to the beach yet but have taken a few snap at the footy, we're out of th finals so gives me a chance to take some pics,
been playing around with all the ideas ya given me and got some good results!
Ill post a few pics up here once I get around to it!