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Photographing kitesurfing

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Category: Sports and Action

Kitesurfing - Kitesurfing photography tips and tricks.

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Kitesurfing is a popular sport and you will often find surfers indulging themselves usually on expansive sandy beaches. A popular time for kitesurfers is when there is a 10-15mph cross shore breeze but you need to check tide times too. Some beaches are good for kitesurfing when the tide is high but on others this can mean possible problems with groynes and other structures, so low tide is best. There are surfing clubs around the country so it might be worth a phone call to check what happens locally.

There are plenty of competitive events too. Check out the British Kitesurfing Association's website for more information.


You will need a recent telezoom if you want action shots, but close-up images of kit and people on the beach you can do with any lens. If you do close-up shots it will be worth explaining to the surfers what you are up to. Indeed, you could offer to email them some images of them in action too in return.

The first thing you need to think about before you venture out is gear protection technique.

Because it will be windy and you are at the water's edge, salty sea spray is a real issue and having a skylight or ultra-violet filter on the lens is strongly advised – at least you can be quite vigorous with cleaning without worrying about ruining the lens front element. If you find the image in your viewfinder is getting less clear, do clean the lens and check the viewfinder eyepiece too.

Afterwards, a wiping down of the exposed external areas of your kit with a chamois leather moistened with fresh water is a good idea.

Sand is another obvious hazard and it can quickly ruin your kit. Keep your bag zipped up closed as much as you can and be careful when you do access kit. Sand grains can gather in the bag's nooks and crannies and then fall into your open bag when you want something. Just try to shake off as much as you can before opening any pocket or compartment.

You could go the whole hog and use a camera rain cover to look after your kit. Look at products like those from Cameras Underwater or Aqua Tech. Click here for details of the Aqua Tech Sport Basic from Warehouse Express.

In terms of camera technique, the light is usually good enough to enable efficient AF performance so set the camera to servo or continuous autofocusing which should be quick enough to cope with kitesurfing. You could try using single spot or multizone AF to see what works best.

For exposure, try your usual mode, but just make sure you keep your eye on the camera setting and ensure you have fairly fast shutter speeds to stop any subject movement – a speed of 1/500sec or more should be fine. Given the conditions you will very likely be shooting handheld too, so fast shutter speeds will avoid any camera shake. A monopod might be an option on firmer beaches but remember to give its base a good rinse in fresh water after the shoot too.

Bright overhead sun could give contrast problems and possible exposure headaches, but as you are mostly after the kitesurfer's body shape rather than their facial details so your camera might cope just fine. Of course, a lower, warmer sun would produce better looking pictures but you can only shoot when the surfers are around, so you don't have too much control over this.

To ensure the colour you capture is the colour you keep, use Datacolor - the Colour Management Experts.

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