Photographer and Founder, Eleven 17 Creative
Ian Walsh Surfing Backdoor Pipeline Underwater shot by Zak Noyle

To capture this image of Ian Walsh, Zak Noyle had visualized and prepared well before takeoff. Photo: Zak Noyle


The Inertia

When you want to capture underwater photos with those beautiful, crystal-blue hues and a surfer behind the wave, you need to move further back out towards the lineup. Dive under the wave as the surfer’s taking off. A good pair of goggles can help you compose your shot when you’re looking back towards the land and shooting your image.

The image above was shot with a fisheye. This is Ian Walsh. Knowing that I wanted to get this photo underwater, I was already beneath the surface composing the image, ready for the surfer to come. I was shooting with a 50 millimeter in the barrel at Pipeline and was able to show how wide and how big these barrels actually are without any distortion.

The fisheye, or a wide lens, really can distort a wave. But this shows you just how big and gnarly the wave is and adds context. So make the lens work for you. There’s no right or wrong. You make it work on the equipment and the type of waves that you have.

Assess the situation, know what type of shots you want to get, and then make it work.

Editor’s Note: Learn surf photography from one of the best surf photographers on the planet with Zak Noyle’s Guide to Surf Photography.

Also, check out our recommendations on the best lenses and cameras for surf photography.

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