"The Maldives consists of 1.192 coral islands grouped in a double chain of 26 atolls spread along an 800km long vertical line in the Indian Ocean. The archipelago lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India. The first thing which comes to my mind when thinking of surfing in the Maldives is board-short warm water of the bright crystal blue variety… and this is so true.
I haven’t seen clearer water anywhere in the world. Similar to tropical countries, the Maldives enjoy a dry and wet season. Conveniently, the hot and humid weather is complemented with cooling sea breezes and periodic rain. The Maldives have a great array of left and right reef breaks suiting most intermediate to advanced surfers. We went to the South Male Atolls. The waves there usually break a bit smalles than those in the north, but the waves are excellent. Most of the time it was just us in the water.
That’s what you want on a boattrip!
It was my first boat trip and also the first time I brought an underwater housing with me. Sometimes it was hard to decide if I should go surfing or taking images as I have a huge passion for both. There is just no better feeling than surfing a wave! Maybe, if you get a really good photo in the water, it comes close to it.
The Olympus PT-EP14 underwater housing was specifically developed for the OM-D E-M1 Mark II. This makes it compact and portable. It is smaller and more lightweight than other brands out there. And you can really access every button of the camera in the water. This can come in very handy at times. The PT-EP14 is actually a housing with a depth rating of 60m. I just took it down to 10m maximum though and mostly shot at surface level.
Shooting other surfers with it worked out great!
Because I wanted to travel light I just brought a carry on backpack and my boardbag. So there was not too much space for a ton of gear. That’s why I decided to bring just one lens port. And as I really wanted to use the M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 PRO lens in the water I went for the flat port (PPO-E02). Another option would have been the dome (rounded) port (PPO-E04) with the M. Zuiko 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO lens or a super wide angle lens.
I shot a lot at around 30-40mm, that was the look I liked best. For the water split photos I could go down to 12mm (equals 24mm) which was enough most of the time. It’s a different look than a fisheye split shot. The OM-D E-M1 Mark II is the perfect camera for action sports photography. It is so fast and obviously the faster your camera can shoot the more likely you are capturing the right moment. Everything is moving, your subject, the water and even yourself. So shooting in burst mode is the way to go. 10fps (out of the possible 60fps) was my sweet spot in the water.
A fast shutter speed is a must-have, too. I never went below 1/1000sec or even 1/2000sec. I experimented with the different focusing modes. Even though the tracking modes are really good I got the best results when shooting in S-AF mode. I estimated where the surfer will be and focused on that spot. A second later I hit the shutter button with around 10fps.
Shooting like this in the water is really fun!