Freddy Cerdeira: Tavarua, Fiji

The Image

Freddy Cerdeira

Tavarua, Fiji

Time / Date:
14:43 / September 16, 2010

The Technical

Camera Body: Canon EOS 50D
Lens: Canon 15mm f/2.8 fisheye
Other: Del Mar Waterhousing

Camera Settings:
Shutter Speed: 1/1000s
Aperture: f/5.0
ISO: 250
Focal Length: 15mm

The Story


The surfing world is saturated with tons of photographers (incredible ones by the way), so as a surfer and a photographer I decide to focus on the life style of the surfers and on some different angles and views of the waves and the ocean. My approach is to avoid the common images of wave/surfer that we usually see on the mags.

I just love being in the water looking for something new, most of the time I am looking for some empty waves (no surfers on it ), but once in a while I like to have people interacting with the surroundings, just to give a different perspective. Fiji is for me one of the best places to shoot, clear water, great waves all the time, just amazing. I have been shooting in Fiji for the past 4 years and got some of my best images there for sure. This shot was taking there a few years ago and is one of my favorite images.

The Scene: 

I was in the water shooting in a day with waves about 6 feet high and the best place to be to get the shots I wanted was right at the impact zone, where the waves break when reach shallower waters. So I had to be diving under the waves all the time and working my way out through the white water (created by the power of the wave breaking on the coral reef ).

After a while a friend of mine, also a photographer, joined me on this session, so I decide to sneak some pictures of him working to show people how we do it.

I waited for a bigger wave to come, dove first and placed my self deeper than him knowing that he would have to work his way out through the white water as I had been doing before. So the image shows him almost out of the turbulence, trying to reach calm waters and the surface. The special about this shot for me is that he is not free yet, almost there but still involved in white water, specially on his face.


I used a Canon 50D, 15mm lens, Del Mar Housing, a pair of fins and goggles. As I had to take a boat ride to the wave spot, I had all my gear in a Pelican case. Warm water, so I was wearing boardshorts and a lot of sunscreen, nothing else.

Making the Shot:

The challenge of these water shots is that the light conditions are always changing — clouds, sun position, deeper you go less light you have, bigger waves produce more turbulence which also affects the light, etc. So most of the time the photos are over or under exposed. I am always changing the settings on my camera trying to adjust to the conditions (I can set on my water housing the ISO, shutter speed and aperture). Another problem (but this one I like) is that my water housing does not have a playback function, so I can not see right away what I got after taking the shot. Only when I get back to my room that I can run through my images and see what I got, hoping to have at least one greast shot, so it is like shooting analogic, you never know what you have untill you develop it. I have been through sessions where I took over a hundred photos and none came out good, but when you nailed it, all I can say is that it is an amazing feeling, hard to describe. So the secret here is to spend hours and hours in the water and just keep shooting.

Editing & Processing:

I do some basic Photoshop adjustments (not an expert on this). So I go for contrast, brightness, work a little bit on curves and clarity as well. But like I said, some really basic adjustments. Work basically on CS5 and Lightroom when I want to convert to B&W.

Looking Back: 

I guess I was very lucky with this shot, as the surroundings are always changing it is impossible to predict what is goint to happen, you just have to be at the right place at the right time and pray for the best. I will never be able to duplicate this moment, so it is unique and I would not change anything. I would only try to spend more time in the water shooting, that day was epic, just perfect ! But I was desperate to surf as well, so I quitted shooting and went surfing, no regrets though!


First of all, be physically in shape, you will be swimming through the waves non stop for hours. Also you need to have a good knowledge of the waves, currents, etc, so you know where to place yourself and avoid most of the risks. And of course a good water housing to keep your expensive equipment safe!


As a surfer I just love the ocean and the waves, so shooting in the water came naturally. My inspiration for this kind of photography was the surfing for sure. But I love to shoot everything, wild life, landscape, portraits and have guys like Sebastião Salgado, Steve McCurry and Kavin Carter as inspiration for sure!


Freddy Cerdeira-FCp

About the Photographer

A new angle an unique view. This is the mission for photographer/surfer Freddy Cerdeira when his equipments is in his hands and he is ready to get into the water. “I wanted to show the surfing and waves in a new way, avoidind the clichê of the traditional surfing photos, this quest revealed a parallel world, where energy, colours and forms appear in an unique way, rarely seen even by surfers.” His images inspire, intrigue and seen to take us to a new dimension. Free your mind and enjoy it.

Instagram: @freddycerdeira

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