Slow Shutter Shorebreak

I’ve been experimenting with slow shutters in the water for a bit now and have started to get some pleasing results. I shot this last night trying to match the speed of the breaking waves to get some nice lines.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

Does the transition to the background going out of focus bother you? I wish my aperture was a bit lower but I had pre-set my settings and I have limited controls on my water housing. I am not sure how much more depth I would have gotten as the wave was only about 2-3 feet away from me.

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Any cropping suggestions? I tried experimenting by cropping the out of focus part of the wave out but I felt like I lost too much of the leading lines in the lower right corner.

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

Caon 5d Mark III Essex Waterhousing 135mm lens
1/20 ISO: 50 F/7.1
(If this is a composite, etc. please be honest with your techniques to help others learn)

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David, I quite like the colors and lines and the overall image. I find the ULC pulls me out a bit, so I did a corner gradient mask and lowered the highs. Real quick and dirty, here is my alternative. I really like this look at the wave.

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I like what Harley did with the ULC, but my main issue is with the wave breaking right on the top edge of the frame. I think going with a more abstract interpretation of cropping out the entire wave break can create a very interesting abstract image. This is such a gorgeous shutter speed, though and you have got some very pleasing colors, too.

Thanks @Harley_Goldman , I like taking the lights in the corner down a bit as it seems to keep the eye more in the frame. @Adhika_Lie I’ve tried to crop it a bit but can’t find a crop I like, When I crop the top of the wave off, to me it seems like it needs more head room to give space from the bends that have the orange glow in them.

I like the concept of this image very much. The light is gorgeous on the wave, and you ended up with some amazing colors in the water, whether that be from the light or the processing (it doesn’t matter which, the colors are awesome). I do feel like this image straddles the line between trying to be a “straight” vs. abstract image. As a straight shot of a curling wave in nice light, I think the issues with lack of depth of field hold the image back from having as much impact as it could have with more sharpness/DOF. That’s why I like the suggestion from @Adhika_Lie to do a more severe crop and take this image more fully into the realm of being an abstract. As an abstract this becomes more about colors and light, and the DOF doesn’t matter as much.

Beautiful colors and textures here, the shutterspeed gives nice lines in the water. I like the repetition of the diagonals with warm light on the wave. For me, it’s a pity that they loose sharpness and wonder what Adhika’s suggestion could become like!

Thanks for the suggestions, This is the best crop I’ve been able to come up with and I’m open to suggestions for a better one. I’ve been struggling to isolate the light and textures I like while keeping the in focus areas.

I went out to shoot again last night and tried to dial my settings a bit better before I hopped in the water. It’s difficult to get the depth of field I am aiming for while still isolating the small waves. I might have better luck if the waves were bigger and I could aim a bit farther away. I’ve found in the past though the last thing you want to be doing while getting hit by a wave is looking through the view finder as its almost certainly going to result in a black eye.

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“I’ve found in the past though the last thing you want to be doing while getting hit by a wave is looking through the view finder as its almost certainly going to result in a black eye.”
I’ve done that a few times and bought a helmet a few months ago, figure my luck would run out eventually.
Nice image, I know how much practice it takes to get on to work out.


I just LOVE this! For me, the beautify of the lines, light, soft motion - patterns of the wave far exceed any tension or issue with the top of the wave. IMHO. I do like Harley’s idea of darkening that area above UL area, that makes a big difference. Would some room at the top help? Sure, but I just can’t get over the beauty captured there. Job well done. Love this!


I love this technique. Beautiful lines and deep colors. Good job!

The water and reflections look like polished metal to me. I really like that aspect of it. The composition could be better with all the strong lines and brighter part in the upper half of the image. I definitely think the shutter speed looks good and now it’s just a matter of time until all the elements fall into place.

Thanks everyone, I did use Harley’s idea of darkening the ULC in my uncropped version. This was a great learning curve for me as I now have a better idea what to aim for when shooting in the water. It’s really hard to get Depth of Field with my 135 in the water so next time I might try medium sized shore break with my 50mm to try to get a bit more depth. I have some more abstract shots I got with the 135 that I look forward to sharing soon.

I had been shooting 50mm in the water for about 5 years since the company that made my water housing went out of business. They just started up again and I was able to get a new port to fit other lenses so I’ve been using everything but the 50mm even when it was probably the best choice.