High Surf Advisory LA County

Photographing in the field in contrasty harsh light is something every photographer has to deal with. This is a technique that I use for those difficult high contrast situations. For a more natural looking image you need to take control of the light to handle the light and dark tones in a high contrast image.

It is important to understand the problem with high contrast scenes. Exposing for the light tones will cause the darker tones to underexpose and exposing for the darks will result in blown out highlights.

Over this past weekend on the first and second of March a giant swell slammed into Southern California triggering a high surf advisory for the area. Due to an unusually low storm track the swell was focused on Southern California creating giant waves at my local beach in South Los Angeles County. These are some of my favorites from the weekend, click on an image to see a larger version in a new window.

Alex Gray on the face of a wave setting up for a barrel, Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM @ 460mm, Nikon  D4, manual mode, 1/1250th s at f/8, ISO 1250, Auto-ISO, +0.7 EV, handheld.

Not only is Alex Gray an LA local but he is one of the leading barrel and big wave riders in the world so it was really nice to see him charge the biggest waves this weekend at his home break. Alex is fearless in big waves and always a pleasure to watch and shoot especially when the waves are huge.

Empty wave in black in white, LA County,Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM @ 380mm, Nikon  D4, manual mode, 1/1250th s at f/8, ISO 1100, Auto-ISO, +0.7 EV, handheld.

By the time the weekend was over the  power of this swell took its toll with lots of snapped surfboard leashes, broken surfboards and injured surfers (one had to be taken away by ambulance) including my friend Jim broke his foot on Sunday dropping into a huge wave!

Conor Beatty charging, LA County, Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM @ 500mm, Nikon  D4, manual mode, 1/1250th s at f/8, ISO 1250, Auto-ISO, +0.7 EV, handheld.

Conor is another South Bay local and his experience surfing the South Bay really showed this weekend as he caught some of the best and biggest of this swell.

Empty right, Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM @ 460mm, Nikon  D4, manual mode, 1/1250th s at f/8, ISO 640, Auto-ISO, +0.7 EV, handheld.

Empty offshore barrels like this wave are one of the reasons I love living in the South Bay.

Tim Reyes hitting the eject button, Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM @ 500mm, Nikon  D4, manual mode, 1/1250th s at f/8, ISO 1250, Auto-ISO, +0.7 EV, handheld.

Tim Reyes pulling into a tube, Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM @ 500mm, Nikon  D4, manual mode, 1/1250th s at f/8, ISO 280, Auto-ISO, -0.3 EV, handheld.

This is a single frame from a 20 shot sequence of Tim made with the Sigma 50-500. Tim Reyes has always been one of my favorite surfers so it was awesome to see him show up at my local surf break.

Any questions or comments? Leave a question below or send me an email.

All content (including text, design, photos, layout, and graphics) are copyright © 2013 Robert OToole.  All rights reserved.