Most days David Orias can be found helping patients in his medical clinic at Sana Barbara. Other times he can be found hanging out on Venice Beach taking photos of waves during sunset.
For a long time Orias admired surf photographers for their ability to capture the sheer intensity of surfing big waves, especially during competitions. But it wasn’t until 2005 that the photographer started getting involved in surf photography.
He attended the Billabong Pipeline Masters in Hawaii and stood beside the crowd of other photographers. Orias found that the outcome of his photos were the same as the rest. This wasn’t good enough for him so Orias decided to stand out by using slower shutter speeds and panning (moving the camera with the subject) surfers to create a different effect.
After many years of experimenting with different lighting conditions and camera techniques, Orias has produced incredible photos of breaking waves that look like rainbows.
Photos of breaking waves that look like rainbows
Orias prefers to use a long 600mm telephoto lens with a 1.4x teleconverter. He always shoots in the largest file size possible (including RAW) for best post-production editing.
The photographer mentions that his common adjustments are: dropped exposure, added contrast, increased white balance, saturation boost, and dodging of the wave mist.
In addition to his camera technique and equipment. Orias says he often uses the camera to see our world in ways our eyes can’t.
“I do this by using long shutter speeds and camera motion to achieve this goal. I am often asked where the colors on my waves come from. I shoot mostly at dawn and the geography of the location allows higher ambient light levels before the full illumination by the sun.”
Orias mentions that colors are created by different weather conditions, amount of clouds or even smoke in the air from local wildfires which are often prevalent.
A favorite hotspot for Orias is Ventura Beach due to the preferred angle and the size of the swell. In an interview with Topaz Labs, Orias said, autumn and winter are ideal for capturing the best waves.
“There is a fifteen-minute period of time where the sun peaks over the mountain, creating bright, golden reflections. I have yet to find another area where the light hits the waves the right way.”
The doctor slash photographer explains he will often shoot 400-500 frames, but after viewing them he might only pick a few of those for his portfolio.
Orias has mastered lighting and technique to capture these brilliant waves that give off an array of incredible rich colour.
Waves are normally perceived as powerful and fierce, often advised by lifeguards to take precaution due to numerous deaths around dangerous swells. But Orias changes this perception by photographing them to look calm and serine with the slow shutter speed making the edges of waves soft and smooth.