Double Tow Surf Photography Techniques

Surf photography is definitely a niche that is inspiring, beautiful, and just plain cool. Epic images of surfers speeding their way along crashing waves or engulfed in massive barrel waves is enough to get any viewer’s heart pumping. But, we’re always looking in from the outside, aren’t we? Well, there’s a style of surf photography called “double tow” that changes everything. And, 16-year-old Australian photographer Leroy Bellet is working hard to perfect the technique to transport the viewer right into the wave with the surfer:

A few years back, french photographer Laurent Pujol revolutionized surf photography with his “double tow” technique. Basically, what happens is the photographer, who is actually riding a surf board himself, gets towed into the wave by a jet ski and surfs behind the surfers while photographing them inside the barrel. A little tricky, especially since the photographer leaves the GoPro at home and holds a DSLR inside water housing.

Bellet, who was inspired by Pujol’s work and the unique perspective, set out to capture his own images, adding flash to create his own style. Shooting flash photos inside barrel waves offers a different perspective by lighting up the surfers from behind as they ride into darkness or stunning sunsets and sunrises.

surfer riding wave photo

There’s a lot of work that goes into capturing these photos since the equipment is heavy and clunky. Surfing while trying to photograph is a skill in itself, and some major concentration, balance, and perseverance are needed.

Bellet uses a Nikon D810 full frame camera with Nikkor 16mm f/2.8 fisheye lens in AquaTech Elite water housing. His flash is a Nikon SB-910 Speedlight in AquaTech Strike 910 underwater housing. To keep the focus from moving as he gets bounced around in the heavy surf, he tapes down the lens so it stays in position.

surf photography equipment

inside wave photo

The process can be a bit challenging, and Bellet has suffered a few injuries along the way, but he is determined. His work has now been featured in several international surf magazines and he’s only just beginning. We can’t wait to see more from this young photographer on the rise!

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