Top 10 Tips for the Best Jetski Photos
Top 10 Tips for the Best Jetski Photos
By Krisdy Riddle
Everyone enjoys a good picture, especially when it's that perfect action shot! In this article we're going to chat about how you can get the most out of your time on the water and learn how to take the best jetski photos!
Whether it’s capturing an image to post for Instagram or prints to decorate your home, documenting racing and riding sessions preserves special memories and highlights the incredibly exciting moments of our sport. It doesn’t necessarily require the most expensive camera; a good eye for jet skis and an understanding of your equipment settings can level up your photography game to the next level.
We’ve gathered 10 tips from one of our best photographers, Kenny Wong, who is a former jet ski racer and has over 14 years’ experience behind the lens shooting racing action.
Jetski Photo Tips
1.) Have the right equipment
Obviously, there is no right or wrong camera because even your smartphone can take great pictures with the appropriate settings. However the most commonly used equipment for quality images is a digital single lens reflex (DSLR). The DSLR gives you the most control over how your photos turn out, with the option to use a range of lenses for how wide or distant your ideal shot is.
2.) Understand the sport
Before capturing jetski photos, it is important to have an understanding of the sport itself and flow of riding. Anticipating where the action will take place gives you a clear understanding of the right spots to snap spectacular photos. Learn the layout of the course and find the best angle of the action in front of you. Left-hand turns provide great action shots highlighting the effort put into carving or leg drags, along with log jumps and straight-away photos which can capture fantastic action images.
3.) Adjust your camera's settings
It is highly recommended that every shot be captured in manual mode. Adjusting the manual mode settings may seem intimidating to beginners, yet it is very simple and allows you to have more control on your exposure and light.
Adjusting your aperture (‘f’ number) refers to the depth of field and how much light is let into the camera. A low ‘f’ number will increase aperture causing more light and lower background focus, whereas a high ‘f’ number will result in less light and greater background focus. If you want to include riders behind your primary subject, a medium-range ‘f’ aperture may be your best bet.
Since we are focusing on a fast-paced sport, it is important to have a quick shutter speed. To freeze a moment, a shutter speed of 1/500s to 1/2000s is ideal and may be adjusted to shutter-speed priority which will allow you to focus on other settings. Of course, you may want to use a lower shutter speed if you’re taking photos of your buddy’s slow ski.
4.) Shoot test shots
Going home after a long day of shooting only to find blurry photos can be discouraging and highly disappointing. Shooting in manual mode may take some warm-up shots to get the correct exposure and take time to understand which settings work best with particular directions. If you are sensing difficulties with the lighting, it may be a good idea to shoot in aperture priority. Sometimes allowing the camera to do the work for you will give the best results.
5.) Work with the sun's position
In photography, lighting is vital. Setting yourself in a position where your back is to the sun will give your subject the illumination of light exposing every detail of the ride. Unfortunately, we will not always have the opportunity to work with the sun in the ideal position. If the sun is behind the rider, it can be very difficult to achieve proper exposure.
6.) Don’t be afraid to get wet
Some of the greatest shots on the water are taken in the water itself! Getting a low-angle shot truly amplifies the dramatic effect of the water and riding action. This low angle may be best gained while in the water, so watch out for waves or splashes to protect your gear. The low angle focus also creates fantastic photo depth which may allow you to include incredible foreground footage.
7.) Try burst mode
Most professional cameras allow up to 14 frames per second with burst mode, with newer models taking up to 20 frames per second. Yet most beginners typically have a camera that shoots anywhere between 5 to 9 frames per second. Regardless of your equipment, you must work on timing the action at any given second. For jet ski riding and racing, setting a high frame capacity will give you your best results.
Jetski Photos - Extra Credit
8.) Change it up with panning
Panning allows the photographer to capture motion that adds a dramatic effect to the shot. The panning effect increases the focus on the rider themselves and blurs the surroundings, truly amplifying the jet ski movement. To gain this shot, set the camera at aperture priority and dial in a high aperture like f-18 or f-22. Lower the shutter speed; this may take some trial and error work but start at a lower shutter speed. When your camera is ready, aim at your subject and move the camera along the direction they are riding.
9.) Use a lens with a variable reach
It is highly recommended to use a lens that covers a range from 200mm to 600mm. Such lenses can give you greater range and a variety of photos throughout the course. If you happen to use a lens with a larger aperture such as f-2.8 or f-4, you will capture creative and interesting photos; yet if you are using a lens that performs at f-6.3 you will still have the chance to attain ideal images that really expose the surrounding elements of jet ski racing and riding.
10.) Tell a story, capture everything
We can also portray an even greater story of what is going on behind the action. For instance, rather than focusing every shot on the riding itself, capturing moments on the beach where friends and spectators are can be a great opportunity to expose the emotions off the course. Whether you’re aiming to capture the excitement of the crowd after a victory or the frustration of someone working on their build, these images can tell a compelling story off the water.
Photography is a fascinating art that allows us to capture what is important to us. Sometimes action shots may seem like a difficult task, yet we hope these tips inspire and bring you clarity on how to improve your jet ski photography skills. Take as many photos as you can and experiment different techniques. One great photo can bring us right back to the feelings, sounds, and even two-stroke smells of the moment.
Have you implemented any of these photography tips at your riding sessions? Send us what you have captured for a chance to be featured on our social media!
Contact Kenny for more information or book him for your next race;