500pxISO have put together a great article, with tips for wave photography from 10 professionals.
We picked 10 of their most useful tips to get you started in this area of landscape photography. When you’re working close to something as powerful as the ocean, it’s absolutely necessary that you take precautions.
When shooting waves in cold and icy conditions, it is highly recommended to wear neoprene waders. I like to get as close to the action as possible, and that means standing in the waves. Wearing neoprene waders means you can stand in the water for hours without getting cold.
Always bring a cleaning cloth to clean sea spray off your lens and filter.
To bring out the curl in the waves, use a long lens and try to shoot somewhat parallel to the shore, rather than shooting it face on.
Protect yourself and your gear from the waves. Often times, to protect myself and my gear, I might decide not to use my tripod to be able to run fast if needed. When the wind is rough, I usually wrap the lens and the camera in a Ziploc bag in which I’ve previously cut a hole into to make the front element of the lens peek through it. Use a rubber band to make it stay in place.
Do some networking. I always make it my priority to network with local surfers, sometimes I even meet pro athletes and these are the best days to shoot! It’s all about the action, and these guys love it when they know there is a photographer around.
Get the right gear for the job. Sometimes, you can’t get close to these large waves. 200-500mm is considered normal for many wave photographers. I do use 16-200 range quite often, but the extra reach will allow you to get incoming waves breaking at a distances and unusual compositions.
While shooting, keep one eye on the water at all times. I have learned the hard way to do this, having been completely drenched before.
Use apps to check the local weather and cloud coverage for tide and surf reports before photographing. The best photo conditions are high tide and partly cloudy skies.
Get to know your subject, especially when it comes to sports and action photography. I’ve surfed for 15 years, so I feel that has really helped me achieve the surf photos that I’m happy with.
Shoot in manual mode. It’s the first and most important rule for me. But it takes a lot of practice and lots of ruined pictures.