Surfing Yallingup was made on a cool crisp winter morning. I had arrived well before sunrise to survey the scene. There was a faint yellow glow in the east and a deep violet earth shadow descending across the western horizon. A light offshore breeze felt cold on my back as I set my camera up on a tripod and pointed it towards the west. In the distance far offshore the breaking surf was lit up by the first of the sun’s rays.
In the foreground slanting rocks facing the sun stretched out in small parallel lines into the ocean, drawing the eyes towards the breaking surf. The sun was slightly diffused through some cloud as it first lit the scene. I managed a few frames with the distant break working before the sunlight broke through the cloud completely and the contrast became too high turning the shadow details to black.
Placing my camera inside my backpack and shouldering my tripod I continued my coastal walk to see what else might be around the corner. The light at this stage was fast losing its morning warmth and the movement of cloud predicted an overcast day was soon to follow.
As I walked below Rabbit Hill at Yallingup beach the steeply angled light hit the plumes of spray blown off the tops of the waves. I attached a zoom lens which I had borrowed from a friend. It was an odd lens and I can’t remember its make. The zoom range was approximately 70 to 140mm of focal length. At its maximum, I managed to compose a small section of water below the cliffs in which the waves were breaking. Timing is everything in photographing breaking waves.
The shutter speed has to be fast enough to “freeze” the image while the success of the composition is totally dependent on the placing of the waveform. Each sequence of waves offers a different image potential, no two sequences are the same. So I made a series of exposures from the same tripod position until the sun faded under the clouds and the lighting effect lost.
Both images were made on the same morning within an hour, yet show vastly different views. A postcard of Surfing Yallingup was published in 1992, two years after I had published Yallingup Sunrise.
Surfing Yallingup became a hugely successful postcard card.
Both images were made with a Pentax LX on Fujichrome 50 Professional RFP