In the first of a series of profiles on kiteboarding photographers, I chose to start out with Al Nicoll, a Durban based adventure photographer of English descent. His work regularly appears in Blunt, Zig Zag, Saltwater Girl, picture libraries, various overseas publications and Gust.

Al particularly interested me as his work clearly shows a good mix : a strong sports documentary feeling, with a good mix of funk and creative angles. I got lost on his website, and was particularly intrigued by his surfing work.

From an early age he showed an interest in photography, but it was only after finishing a degree in Zoology that he decided to pursue a full time career as a photographer.

He sees himself as a sports, lifestyle/fashion, editorial sports and travel photographer. He is adaptable to each subject matter and loves looking for the unusual photographic angle.

His clients includes magazines, photo libraries, commercial and private businesses .

He describes himself as an outgoing, adventurous individual who loves to be creative. He got his first real taste for travelling when his parents took him skiing for the first time to Switzerland at the age of five. Since then it has been ingrained in him.

Taking photos always seemed natural to him especially when travelling. His photography became serious after a surfing injury, which allowed him to channel all his energy into it. While he was living in the Canary Islands he started shooting for Spanish Surfing Magazines, and since then he has never looked back.

Needing more input, he returned back to the UK and to University to study a Foundation Degree in Photography at the Bournemouth Arts Institute. During this time he won 2 awards. He earned The Observer Newspaper’s Student Sports Photographer of the Year and The Kodak Association of Photographers Award in the Sports Editorial category.

Al is now based in Durban, South Africa - away from the cold and clouds of the UK.

Self Portrait taken through ice in whistler canada.
Canon 14mm with Flash and timer

This image is of Bret Pengelli when he jumped the pier in Durban. Bit of a rushed shot as I had to quickly change lenses from the 600 to the 200 and run into a good position as he began his run up before I was ready. I guess his adrenaline was really pumping. Anyhow I managed to be there in time thank God.
Canon 1D Mk11 70-200

Ralph Bachschuster at Kamers (Big Bay) doing a tweak air. His windsurfing expertise really shows.
Shot On the Canon 1D mk11 With the 600mm F4. Waves were fun with good ramping section to hit.

This one is of Greg Thijsse doing a KGB at Big Bay with Table Mountain in the background, again on the Canon 1D mk11 with 600

This one was shot during the White Air Extreme festival on the Isle Of white in the uk.
A competitor heads out for his heat. Thought with the light at the time that it would capture the feeling and buzz that you get when you head out.
Canon 1D mk1 with 17-35 F 2.8

While shooting at Kamers (Big Bay), I was looking for some different angles and noticed how the kites danced over the small wind blown dunes.
I just liked the simplicity.
Canon 1D Mk11 70-200 F4

This one of Marc Shinn when he was down at kelso point in KZN.
I just like the angle and the trippyness of someone elses kite in the background.
Canon 1D mk 1 600mm F4

Taken one of the many Cape point reserve trips, hoping that the winds will be good and not skunked again.
Peter Petersen taking on the lip for a floater.
Canon D Mk 11 600mm F4

Again Peter Petersen. There was really solid swell hitting, so we looked at Haakgat. A hell current was running but the guys got some bombs.
Had a bit a walk on the dunes to get the right elevation but worth it.
Canon 1D Mk11 600mm F4

Ralph Bachschuster Smacking it hard in the reserve with his straight back leg technique.
Shot a sick sequence of this move power and style.
Canon1 D Mk2 600mm F4
With shots like this the shutter speed is the key factor so 800th /sec upwards is needed to freeze the water.
Aperture 7.1 is my norm when sunny. If the lights drops you can open up to 5.6. If it drops further i increase the ISO so that the sensor is more sensitive to light, therefore allowing to keep the same settings.
I always use manual setting and spot meter off the white water so that it is 2/3 of a stop below the end of the scale which is bleached out white. With this in place all the rest of the tones fall into place. Check your graph on the your display and it will show this.

On any session you have to assess the waves, wind currents etc.
Ralph giving Randalls point (Still Bay) a long hard stare.
The wind was play like a pro poker player that day trying to tease you out but it was just not strong enough, so the waiting game began.
canon 1D mk11 28-70 2.8L

Table mountain is the symbol of Cape Town Kiting.
I've been eyeing up this shot for a while until the right cloud cover was out and I was on it.
Used some Graduate Lee filter Blue and red. Long exposure tripod.
Began exposure just as the water began to retreat after a wave to get that fresh wet sand reflection.
Shot with Canon 1D MK ii 28 -70

Be sure to check out more of Al's work on his website at