Portraits at the Pacific: Surfers
On a recent afternoon I decided that I wanted to photograph some surfers out on the coast. I'm not sure what prompted it, but that's what I felt like doing and that's what I set out to do.
It didn't take very long to find a few surfers. As it turns out, some long time acquaintances of my wife are regulars to the waves of Chiba Prefecture's Pacific coast, and they were plenty eager to have some photos done.
On the day I was to do the shoot, the weather looked promising as I was leaving the house. It was warm, there was very little wind, and there weren't many clouds in the sky. Though from past experience I knew it wasn't anything that a short drive out to the Pacific couldn't change.
Arriving to the coast and stepping out of the car revealed some less than ideal shooting conditions. I was greeted by a strong wind blowing off the water. It was a cold wind, too; a salty, howling, mist throwing, sand kicking, persistently gusting, cold wind.
This meant that the lighting modifiers I had intended to use were not coming out of the car. Soft boxes, umbrellas, and reflectors just don't get along well with heavy winds.
Also, since I have this feeling that sand, salt, and water are not good for the inside of the camera, the conditions meant that I would not be separating any lenses from the camera body.
It didn't look great, but I figured that I was already there and should see what could be made of it. So, I pulled out the protector filter that had been sitting for years unused in my bag, screwed it onto my choice of lens for the shoot, grabbed one small flash, and headed into the wind.
Once we began, I quickly forgot about the wind, the cold, the salty seawater on my face, the sand in my eyes and between my teeth, and shot away for the better part of an hour and a half. When doing something you enjoy, all the little annoyances just fade away.
The images I came away with from the shoot are not what I had originally imagined. Due to the conditions on the coast, I had to make a few changes, but that is how it usually goes. In my personal experience, coming from a shoot with the images you had initially pictured is without doubt the exception, not the rule.
I certainly don't consider any of my efforts a waste though. I learned what does and does not work in such situations, and I came away with some more refined ideas for the next trip out to the ocean to photograph surfers.