17 February, 2012 17 February, 2012

How to capture an epic lineup

Pure South Africa beauty. Photo: AvG

The lineup shot will always be the single most powerful and timeless frame of surf photography shootable. If there is one photograph every surfer wants to see or to show their friends when they score, it’s the lineup.

So what makes a great lineup? The location, the surfer, the composition? All of these are great and can often compliment a great lineup shot, but the most important element will always be the wave itself. We want to see perfection; something that will inspire us to travel, to dream and that puts us right there in the that exact moment.

Jeffrey’s Bay will always be remembered as the ultimate lineup. Swells stacked in 2011. Photo: AvG

Your first consideration when composing your lineup should be your position. What is the best vantage of the wave? Down the beach, straight out front, up on the hill, down behind the trees, up the tree? I once climbed more than twenty metres up a giant Indonesia brute to get a clear and unique view of the famous G-land. I lost my lens cap to the pull of gravity while precariously balancing within the canopy, but it was well worth the climb.

My elevated perspective of the world-famous G-land. Photo: AvG

Next you need to decide if some foreground or background will positively add to the whole scene. Too much and you overpower the subject all together. None at all and your photograph may be too plain. Balance as always is good, and less is definitely more.

A pristine wave unloads in The Western Sahara. Photo: AvG

You don’t always need a big wave to create an epic lineup. As long as it’s clean and well defined you should be able to capture something special. Something that instils excitement, a little bit of jealousy, and a whole lot of ‘I wish I was there!’

Western Sahara perfection at Tajine Point. Small but so much fun. Photo: AvG

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