Surf Life Saving Tests the Nikon AW100

Surf Life Saving Australia’s official photographer, Harvie Allison, took Nikon’s AW100 out to ride the wild surf – here are his top tips for sharp shooting on the high seas. H arvie Allison has been shooting Surf Life Saving for more than two decades and is well aware that sun, surf and sand are often anathema to cameras, yet Allison says he couldn’t be more thrilled with the new AW100. “You might wonder why a guy with all the gear would get so excited by a ‘snappy’ as I like to call compact cameras, but this little gem is a must have as far as I’m concerned. Small and light, it fits easily in a pocket or backpack and you always have a camera with you that will catch a quality image, but best of all it’s waterproof and shockproof, making trips to the beach a joy rather than a stressful event.” No matter your camera brand, here are Harvie’s tips to take you from beginner to pro in no time.

It is a good idea to use a wrist strap or similar if taking your camera onto or into the ocean. Cameras don’t float, so it’s smart to make sure yours is secure. Another good purchase is a cleaning cloth (available from any Camera House store). This can be used to clean the camera after washing excess sand or salt off. Sand is abrasive, so be careful to make sure it is thoroughly cleaned off after use at the beach; even a soft make-up brush is handy to remove grains from the casing.

After finishing your trip to the beach wash off your camera under the closest tap, removing excess salt and sand before a proper clean when you get home. Hosing is not a great idea as the excess pressure could breach a water seal. READY, AIM, FIRE Candid shots are always fun; have your camera ready so you don’t miss the action.

With all the reflection and glare, the lighting at the beach is harsh, so make sure you try to shoot with the sun behind you to minimise shadows.

At the beach you are better trying to get shots in the water rather than under the water. The constant movement of tide, wind and waves stirs up a sandy bottom which isn’t ideal for underwater images; these are better taken at a pool or in other filtered water, using the underwater setting on your camera.

Shooting action in the surf? Try the sports setting for best results. This will ensure a higher shutter speed and your images will be sharper, plus you have the ability to capture a series of up to 12 images by holding the shutter button down.

When framing your photos remember that what you see on the camera’s screen is exactly how your photo will look… if you have no feet in the shot and a big gap above the heads then that is how it will look. It sometimes feels unnatural but try pointing the camera downwards until you see the feet and heads in shot then capture the moment. I still remind myself of this one often!

Happy shooting, Harvie

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