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The Portfolio: Simon Pamphilon

Camera shops divide their ranges into three categories: amateur, enthusiast and professional. I guess I’m what they would call an enthusiastic amateur. I have taken many thousands of pictures and developed some skill in portraits and landscapes, but I find sports shots difficult, particularly surfing. Taking photos of surfers is challenging with basic kit. For starters, they tend to be far away and they move fast.

This picture was a very happy combination of circumstances. It was taken on a Saturday in June 2018 from the East Pier in Port Alfred. I headed off to East Beach to see if anything was happening, and, as it turned out, there was a local club competition underway. I grabbed my camera and 70-300mm lens and headed to the pier for some shots.

It was mid-morning in winter and the sun was still fairly low. The waves off the east pier in Port Alfred predominantly break right, but, on this day, they were peaking left and right and there was a short run between the peak and the pier.

All the competitors were heading away from me, into the low sun. Except this guy, Andrew Laverge. Laverge is pretty talented. He’s been surfing since he was 11 and is an instructor at the Shaka Surf School. Lucky for me, he’s also a goofy-footer — he surfs with his left foot at the back of the board — and he was going straight towards the pier and nailing it. He had a very short space to execute his moves before ending up on the rocks against the pier so he was giving it everything he had.

I took a lot of shots that morning. There were a few halfway decent shots which I gave a basic edit and posted to Facebook. Then I began deleting the pictures I had ignored. This was one of them. It really didn’t look like much in the original digital image — it seemed the highlights were blown out and there wasn’t much detail in the shadows — but something made me decide to give it a try. I opened it up in a RAW editor, dropped the highlights, boosted the shadows, increased the contrast and then ran it through Nik Silver Efex Pro. It popped.

Tech specs: Canon 100d, 70-300mm IS USM at 300mm, ƒ8, 1/1000, ISO 800

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