Two friends, a motley crew, and the open ocean!
This is the story of how we made our dreams a reality... we bought a big boat, we are decking it out, and setting off on an adventure of a lifetime with no strings, no plans and no deadlines!
The so very true quotes above from Matt Wall and Paul Fowler, the owners, captains, designers, the inspiration behind "The Thin Red Line Journey" and the reconstructed Faraday Pearl boat.
I truly wonder sometime "just how did I end up here" one minute in a 4/3 wetsuit, hoodie and booties in New Zealand to being on a boat exploring the Kimberly's, bare footed wearing the same pair of boardies for the last two weeks - its meant to be.
Hard to even justify this one as a job, I was truly inspired by Matt and Paul's view on life, putting everything you have into a vision of complete uncertainty, to put it bluntly - f'ckn going for it, no plan B's. I ask "what's your plans for the boat"? All we want to do is go on a journey, no set plans or destinations and have people come onboard to experience letting go.
I tend not venture to far from the surf, don't get me wrong I have been in some incredible environments and met amazing people because of the surf photography, but now and then opportunities present themselves which bring other challenges, adventures and really just another way at looking at the big picture.
Cheers: Captain Matt, Big Paulie, Nat, Dutchy and Andre Rerekura for the trip and allowing me to create content on your maiden voyage.
I will be putting new images from the trip in my print gallery: Water Is Freedom (please contact me if you see anything from this blog as a print, the coloured textures shot in medium format will look incredible ).
I was pretty happy shooting alongside Andre Rurukura for the latest Ocean Grown Abalone campaign, what an amazing experience photo wise but more so the education I received over the three days, thank you to Brad and his incredible team for the opportunity.
From The Ocean Grown Abalone Website: An exciting new Western Australian innovation. We build our own artificial abalone reefs on our leases in the pristine waters of Flinders Bay. We then place hatchery reared juvenile abalone on them – then let nature (with a little help from our divers) do the rest to produce this marine delicacy. A totally natural ‘wild-harvest’ product. Because we have some control of the process we can harvest to market demand to whatever size the market requires.
Photos By Russell Ord & Andre Rurukura.
Great trip the other week, we managed not to donate a car to the Indian Ocean (just), avoided colliding with any dinosaur size marsupials (a touch overstated), the odd engine trouble, a tyre that was determined to come away from the rim, fresh fish for lunch, no humans in sight, jump started the ski, one or two bottles of Margaret Rivers finest and bush t.v, life is good, f'n good.
These are a few photos of the lads going about there incredible work with the odd empty thrown in for good measure.
Darren McCagh (pronounced ma_kay) on video from Farm House Films.
Andrew Semark driver + stills photographer: (website)
More empty wave images can be seen in the print gallery - click on this link not only to view but to purchase an image for every member of your family, ok half of them is fine....
In the surf photography world, Russell Ord is probably best known for his hard charging approach. You see, Russ has a penchant for putting himself in positions that quite simply, no reasonable person should ever find themselves in, E.g. shooting fish-eye just metres from one of the heaviest lips on the planet at The Right.
Honing his photography in the powerful waves of West Australia, Russ was always comfortable swimming in the big stuff. What he is not comfortable with however are crowds. Disillusioned with increasingly packed local lineups, Russ set himself a new challenge, one he could only satisfy by shooting the many unimaginably heavy and isolated offshore bombies that litter the Southern coastline of West Oz.
“The last few years I’ve kind of gone away from capturing every single moment, and now I’m just trying to get that one moment that’s challenging to myself, Says Russ.
“So that means swimming right into the thick of things and seeing what I can do! Your whole life revolves around that; what you eat, how you breathe and how you train.”
Russell has now dedicated himself to dancing with these monsters, looking for that unique image to satisfy his quest. Tracks caught up with Russ to get an insight into the equipment needed to do so. This is Russell Ord’s Heavy Water Shooting Kit.
1: Helmet – Going over the falls at the Right is not that pleasant, your limbs go uncontrollably everywhere, the helmets there not for the reef (its pretty deep) its there for the water-housing which can become a deadly weapon. I have eyes painted on the back to fool the sharks or to fool myself in believing that actually works.
2: Water Housings – The essential piece of equipment from Aquatech allowing me to shoot from the water. I have a 16mm fisheye setup for up close and personal and also a 50mm just in case I am feeling not that brave, my first option is always the 16mm because that’s what I love to do and it makes me feel like I have caught a few waves myself.
3: Safety Vest – I am only ever going to pull the get out of trouble cords if I feel like I am beyond my limits, I spend the whole off season training with One Ocean International to make sure I can be as ready as I can be for an extended period of no fresh air.
4: Westsuit – 4mm Patagonia, warm and toasty, I cant afford to waste energy from being cold, it’s a hard enough swim as it is and over the years I have become a lot better in managing my energy levels.
5: Jetski – I purchased my first ski 12 years or so ago because I nearly drowned when paddling out to the Margaret River bombie which decided to closeout on my arrival (pre breathe hold training) my latest driver has been my son Kalani which is great because I can get him for a cheap rate like a day off school.
6: Fins – I use Dafins and find these to be best for comfort and also when I get dry docked on the reefs around West Oz (nasty) they then become a source of protection, they have a nice hard bottom for legging it across the sharp reef.
7: Fuji Cameras / lenses – I love using the Fuji equipment, great quality, light for travel and couldn’t be happier from the results.
8: Computer / Hardrives – Apple Mac for working on the go with G-Technology hard-drives to back up all my work, which does not seem to many images these days because I am more focused on getting one or two good shots more than capturing every moment of every session.
9: Bag – F-stop bag, best designed bag on the market in my opinion and rugged.
SALT Surf Photography Awards - Get your entries in now for a chance to share in AU$9000.00 in prizes.
Firstly I would like to thank Kevin Cooper (incredible FujiFilm -X photographer ), FujiFilm Australia and FujiFilm for selecting me to trial the new Fuji XT2, I really appreciate the chance to put the new camera through its paces.
This is not a technical review because there is so many great articles already covering the specifications, new features, comparisons etc. etc. check out Ken Rockwell's website for his comprehensive review of the new Fuji camera, one of the best in the business regarding a large range of camera equipment.
The basic brief from Fujifilm: "We would love for you to supply FujiFilm surf images taken with the new XT2". My first thoughts were no problem at all however I wanted to give them a few images shot from a ski ( no water housing from Aquatech at this stage) so I packed the camera (supplied by Fujifilm) along with my 50-140mm in a water proof case and headed out to sea. Conditions were terrible on arrival with lots of spray, side-wash, waves sucking us into the impact zone, normally I wouldn't even risk taking it out of the case but the job had to get done and this camera and lens copped an absolute hammering, I drowned the set up a number of times and I thought to myself there is no way the equipment will get through this, surprisingly everything is working fine today.
The camera performed incredibly well, the focus was fast, image files are very very nice, its the type of camera you can pick up and just get straight into it with all the dials and everything you need right there in front of you, a pocket battle ship ( a little slang for something small and very tough).
If anyone has some direct questions regarding the XT2 feel free to flick them through and I will be happy to give you a honest answer / opinion, below are some images taken from the ski and land with the XT2 camera along with the 50-140mm / 100-400mm ( love this lens ) and it fits nicely into the FujiFilm lineup I already use which includes the X Pro 2 plus a number of quality lenses purchased from Camera Electronic.
On a side note, if anyone is in Perth on the 24th of July get down to the Photolive Expo...... I will be doing a small talk along with a number of others that I am looking forward to listening to while trying not to spend to much money on all the amazing equipment on display.
Fuji X Pro 2
Having only used Nikon for the last 16 years to shoot all my photography work (surf, weddings, commercial) its a little daunting to say the least changing over the complete camera system.
I have had the Fuji X Pro 2 for a few weeks along with a small selection of lenses: Zeiss Touit 12mm F2.8 | Fuji XF 56mm F1.2 | Fuji XF 27mm F2.8 pancake lens - its a slow process of selling off my unwanted gear and buying new bodies and glass, believe me I will only be doing this once.
Before I shoot my first wedding or commercial job, I want to get completely used to the camera so I put it through its paces at my sons boxing gym "The Onshore Gym" named by the coach Nathan Brooks because if the wind is blowing in that direction its open for business which suits 99% of the boxers that train there, being surfers themselves. Low light sports photography and to be honest I didn't have any problems at all, I am more than confident with making the full transition and having a number of Fuji bodies and lenses for all my work, I am not about to go into technical jargon, the lenses (see above) are incredible, sharp, great colour, well built. Note For a detailed to review I would suggest Ken Rockwell, that goes for all brands and equipment.
Why! I have always dabbled with the idea of going mirrorless, light to travel with, light to swim and shoot with, very unassuming around people, easily blending into the environment, no one seems to care about pointing such a small setup in their direction, plus I shouldn't have been sucked in and picked it up in the shop, the camera felt great, very well built, so reading review after review of the pros and cons and what suits me as a photographer, the time was now...I love it. This setup is going to be perfect for our future travel plans through the Pacific, I will post a number of other reasons when I have the material to back up the quotes.
Great day free diving around the Busselton Jetty with Joe Knight and Talina Tapia from One Ocean International and also Tom Pearsall from Driftwood Photography.
Zeiss 25mm Batis / Sony A7r II / Aquatech Waterhousing.
Buy a camera, open up a facebook / insta page and in the very next breath calling yourself a photographer / videographer is not a very good start to the new found career, it’s a bit like going to the hardware purchasing a mitre saw, a few other tools and calling yourself a carpenter, yes you have the tools but no skills to back up your claim. Not taking the time to learn your new found craft but standing on the beach close to the professional who has dedicated his life to his skill set, earning himself a solid reputation for his photo business attitude, shooting for a label/company/magazine only to have “the new guy” poach away (poaching in photography terms can basically be described as showing up, taking photos, and passing them on as a shoot that you set up, bringing nothing to a party is a great old term) with no concerns or communication at all, the seasoned pro is always happy to help out and send some tips to Mr. Sparkling New Camera set to auto but he/she never asks, I need to get “the shot” so I can then give it away for free to see my name in print (I have made it, my name is now out there). I myself could have made this same mistake, I remember well a conversation I had with the Regnard’s about how they can charge so much because of their well earned reputations and that no body new me so I had to get my name out there in the world anyway I could before earning any income. Lucky I took their friendly forth coming advice, I started concentrating more on my work and far less on the fact that I was an unknown, of course I was an unknown, that was never going to change until I started to shoot quality images, taking time to learn the trade including the business / etiquette side of the industry and basically do an apprenticeship, asking questions, carrying camera bags in return for advice, constantly learning which is an on going process, the name and reputation will then follow the quality work, not the reverse. What’s happened now with so many people working for credit, which by the way is their right as the photographer? The general public which includes business owners / newspapers etc etc send emails asking for images with the opening lines “I love that photo you took last week can we please run that image and we will make sure your are credited so people know who you are and you can sell prints” what the f**k are you are charity because I don’t mind giving away images for non-profit organizations? Does everyone in your office work for free? The standard has been set from the above new comer, the Joe Blogg general public are now used to having images given to them which includes all types of usage from advertising to web use. Just a quick side story: last year a want to be photographer (I should name them but wont) told me they were giving away all their images for free to a major corporation that were using images for billboard advertising so people will see his name in lights and from there he can charge for prints and the next big job, that same guy has now sold his gear and works a brain numbing job paying off his camera gear loan, I recently sent him a message all ready knowing the results “Hey mate hope all is well, how did you go with print sales from the billboards” not one email or request – bingo. Quality people, quality, keep striving for it and the results will follow, cheers to Erick and Ian Regnard for their advice over the years – legends.
See the Regnards work here: website.
One Ocean International - Specialist Watermanship
Instructor: Joe Knight (Click here for more information about Joe.)
Students: Gordon Becker | Kristoff Ecker | Russell Ord
Location: Margaret River / Yallingup / Dunsborough
Its been a great couple of weeks in the Solomon Islands with my eldest son Kalani.
Accommodation: Papatura Island Retreat
Surfing: Week 1 - Small but really fun setups all over the place, nothing better than surfing six hours a day and according to Kalani that equals roughly 100 waves. Week 2 - The swell dropped, so it became a diving and fishing week, we left two days before a decent swell that was predicated and I could only imagine the spots that would light up.
Fishing: I am not a fisherman's lunch box and I could even catch amazing fish, plenty to go around for the camp for dinner and even more released back to the sea.
Diving: Incredible water clarity, we spent days swimming around the blue holes and reefs with plenty of sea life to explore.
I travelled pretty light photography wise: Nikon D4 / 24-70mm / 70-200mm and a fisheye. Aquatech housing to suit the lot.
Overall it was an amazing trip, great food, fantastic people in and around the islands, looking forward to getting a bomb swell there one day.
For just about every surfer on the face of the earth, Hawaii, and specifically the North Shore of Oahu, is where it’s at.
From the earliest age most of us are bombarded with images and stories from the joint also known as The Rock. Often the images are of massive waves and the stories typically reference heavy locals and oddly enough, a little frame of mind known as Aloha.
But those images and stories came from somewhere right? Yep, photographers and writers have also been heading to Oahu since the first wave of nut jobs crashed the party way back in the 1950’s. The first grainy images and stories of Greg Noll and his buddies charging Waimea set forth a pattern that has been repeated ever since.
Every Hawaiian winter, November through to February, hordes of photographers and writers descend on The Rock to document the shenanigans and cast an impression on the very impressionable minds of surfers everywhere.
This year, Victoria’s Ed Sloane took the plunge…
Expect imagery like this to come out of Ed's Trip.
Q) Ed, first trip to Hawaii? What was going through your head on the flight over?
Ed) Yep, this is my first trip and as you’d expect I was pretty excited. It’s taken me 29 years to get to the North Shore so there’s a lot imprinted in my head about this place. I feel like I know the place well from all the editorial over the years but what I’ve found difficult, something I think most people grapple with, is how fluky the surf can be. It seems like one hour it’s pumping the next it’s not, though we haven’t had any real A+ days yet. I’m here for a month with the ASP covering the first two Vans Triple Crown Events, Haleiwa and Sunset, following that I’m freelance covering the Pipe Masters.
Q) Sounds sweet, so what are some of your impressions of the place? Did it stack up to what you imagined it to be?
Ed) I didn’t expect it to be so busy here…it’s packed! I’ve also never been to the U.S before so it’s been fun dealing with all these little cultural things, particularly when buying food. I’ve been mistaken for being Scottish twice now but maybe the reddish beard is to blame for that, haha! The surf was a big shock as well, the day I arrived was 12ft-15ft and I went down to Pipe right before sunset and it pretty much blew my mind, Backdoor looks so much heavier than in all the videos and photos I’ve ever seen.
Q) There’s been a bit of swell since you got there, what’s the vibe like when it’s pumping over there?
Ed) The only real swell so far was right off the bat and I was so busy with the Haleiwa contest that I didn’t even really pick up on the vibe other than everyone was stoked to be surfing some power for the contest. I’ve definitely heard that the crowd has exploded since the start of the Triple Crown, it must be hard for the locals who wait all year for this surf then it gets busy on the first swell!
Q) Anything trip you out?
Ed) Err…the girls on the beach, haha!
Q) From a photographer's point of view, Hawaii's one of those spots that’s had more than a few lenses pointed at it over the years, is it hard to get a new angle on the place? Is that what you're trying to do?
Ed) That’s a good question. I know some guys who just don’t ever want to bother with it here because it’s all been done. I like to think it hasn’t all been done and there’s always a new angle but here it almost has been covered. I’m always on the lookout for shots that don’t age and I know it’s cliché to use the word timeless but if you can produce an image that is like that, the uniqueness of it is kind of irrelevant. My focus here so far has been to cover the contests and that’s where I’m at right now. When they’re over I’ll be putting a lot of energy into free surfing and the lifestyle around Pipe and that’s going to be fun but my expectations are realistic about “new angles”.
Q) And speaking of images, every kid who surfs has an image of Hawaii burned into their brain from the earliest of age, like the one of Brock Little at Waimea or Gerry Lopez at Pipe. What about you?
Ed) Yeah totally, when I was a kid I had a laminated poster of a brand called Local Motion, it was a super wide panoramic image of Pipe and it stayed above my bed for years. It was a timeless shot of really raw power in perfect light.
Interview By Anthony Pancia.
The Practical Review, the no bull-s**t review, the I am not getting paid to do this review, I will say what I want review because it's my site review!
Just returned from Byron Bay Surf Festival where I was lucky enough to talk alongside photographers Ted Grambeau, Ming Nomcheng, Harley Ingleby, Joe Knight from OneOcean International and ocean explorer Josh Knox armed only with a Nikon DF and the 24-120mm lens supplied by Camera Electronic. I am not about to give you a technical spill on the equipment, there is well and truly enough of this data scattered all over the internet, this is all about the practical side, actually using the equipment in practise. The 24-120 range is something I wouldn't have even considered in the past with my major concern being the quality of the image so I was very surprised that I could not see any difference in quality between this lens and my trusty 24-70mm f/2.8 which was a relief because I only packed this combination for the trip, yep lazy is a very good word for it and I can run with that, light weight, flung over the shoulder, walked around for hours (forgetting the most part even to take shots, such a great event) and that fantastic range, close-ups, wide angle and pin sharp, great lens attached to an amazing camera (so good in low light). Cheers to everyone I met in Byron and had a great laugh with Nick and Tom Carroll, half way through your book and cheers for signing it - great read.
Behind the Image: Justin “Jughead” Allport: 15km out to Sea.
Behind the image is the long story, short story or even just a few token words describing what took place behind the photo, it may be technical which I very much doubt, about the subject, what went into taking the photo, what I would do different next time, basically anything that comes to mind, scribbling notes at the time will recall the facts, talking it up or down is not out of the equation, its also open for discussion, questions, banter, jargon, requests and everything in between, ENJOY! –
I am just going to get straight to the point, this wave was never destined to be photographed this trip, it happened a number of years ago so the complete facts, the finer details may not be 100% accurate, the memory bank rattled by years of Rugby League has seen to that.
“You guys fly into Perth, pick-up the 4WD and boat, I will travel direct from Margaret River with the ski and supplies, lets meet at the start of the track early morning, the wave is a long way out I want to make the most of it”.
Sounds bloody easy, to bloody easy in the end, F**K Up Number 1 (kids may be reading this however ever this word describes the situation with the punch required): Brett Burcher, Jughead and Brendon Newton the three nutcases on this mission running out of fuel in the middle of the night 80km short of the nearest town, no reception for the blower, its not a super highway, traffic is scarce to say the least, the temp drops down to a balmy two degrees which is a good sign for an offshore in the morning but not so good while waiting for the first passing car, six hours later in the pitch black of night the first sign of lights, rescued with just enough fuel to get to town.
I receive a call in the early morning, “we wont be there for another 3-4 hours, we are camped in the servo waiting for it open”, and no 24hr mega stations in these parts, that’s the morning session blown.
F**K #2: Seven hours later they arrive, getting lost along the way didn’t help the cause, we now only have roughly a third of the day left to find this wave, Brendon was the only one that had been there before and basically that was an accident, launching the boat off the beach with five foot sets rolling in was the next challenge, no way I was getting on that thing until it was out the back, watching the 22ft boat go completely vertical on the last wave was completely in slow motion, thoughts of my pelican case full of gear getting lost to the sea, injuries to all the surfers on board, loosing the boat entirely coasting a fortune in insurance because the owner thinks its travelling down a tranquil river fishing for Bream, the boat lands perfectly something eventually had to go right but we waste another hour of light searching for the monster.
That Wave: Its massive, breaking onto a super shallow reef that is completely exposed 30-40m after it detonates fifteen kilometre’s off the coast, before I can take it all in, assess the real situation and risks, Jughead lets go off the rope, not sure if you ever had one of those moments when everything becomes slow motion, I have had a few over the years and this moment added to the collection. The end bowl collapses, it’s the craziest thing I had ever witnessed, no warm up shoulder hopping rides to suss out the place, Jug goes super deep and then goes down, normally I am driving a ski and double up as rescue, this time I was confined to a boat wondering if he survived, no sign for the first 40 seconds, we were searching in the wrong area, he had been dragged over the barnacle thickened island, first thoughts were I will be performing a first aid patch up job if in fact he is still alive, he whips past the boat grinning from ear to ear and proceeds to go another one, complete lunatic.
Words by: Anthony Pancia | Photos Ord
IT started with a U-turn, resulted in a near drowning and ended with an almost humours image of a body caught in the lip of a heaving south coast wave. The body, near drowning and U-turn all belong to East coast surfer Brett Burcher, one of the select breed who’ll happily drop everything and burn thousands of kilometres to chase waves of serious consequence.
“I’d flown over to Perth and driven up to surf Gnaraloo with Fergal Smith, from Ireland,” says Burcher of the fateful trips’ origin. “But we got there and the swell wasn’t as promising as we had expected, so we decided to leave and do the long haul trip down south to The Right in one day.” With close to 3000 kilometres under their belts from the trips north and south, the two rendezvous with photographer Russell Ord in a caravan park close to the notorious wave. “We’d seen Ord up in Gnaraloo,” says Burcher. “But being the rock star he is, he’d flown up for a one day shoot then bailed. I called ahead and he organised a ski for us.”
The day gets off to a cracking start, with Burcher towing Chris Shanahan into an award-winning wave. Unfortunately for Shanahan, it’s the Billabong XXL Worst Wipeout Award. “That was horrific,” recalls Burcher of Shanahan’s spectacular 15- foot free fall. “It wasn’t my day to start with…and then it was my turn.” Burcher starts with a medium sized wave before giving Shanahan the thumbs up to chase down the building wall of water heading their way. Meanwhile, Ord, who’d already been shooting from the frigid water for several hours, takes note of the tell tale signs and moves into position. “I was in the perfect spot,” says Ord. “All Burcher had to do was pull in, travel a meter or two and I would have got a great shot.”
Which is what Burcher had every intention of doing, however the force of water rushing up the face of the wave caused his surfboard to loose traction in the worst possible position. Cinematographer Darren McCagh, still reeling from Shanahan’s earlier spectacular wipeout, frames Burcher’s forward progress and hits record. “He was looking good,” recalls McCagh. “He’d picked a nice line but just seemed to lean into it a little too much and his board went straight and he just slid off.” The resulting footage would earn McCagh his second prestigious Billabong XXL Best Wipeout Award nomination. But at that point, such accolades were far from Burcher’s mind as he finds himself sliding on along the base of a very solid wave. “To be honest I was pretty calm,” recalls Burcher. “That’s the beauty of being towed into a wave, you’re not exactly sure how big it is until you see the video or the pictures. I honestly wasn’t sure how much of a pickle I had found myself in.” Turns out, Burcher was in a bit more a pickle than he originally thought, and just as his situation turns from bad to, really really bad, Ord appears in the bottom left of the footage, hoisting his camera to fire off a sequence at the perfect moment. “My first thoughts were that he was actually going to make it out in the prone position,” Ord recalls.
“But then the wave just picked him up and threw him like a rag doll.” For a split second Burcher and Ord are at eye level with each other “I knew Russ was shooting from the water,” says Burcher. “As I was being sucked up and about to go over in the lip, I heard him say shout “Oh Nooooo”, that sound is forever burned in my brain.” The wave passes, Ord kicks through it but Burcher is sent straight to the bottom of a frigid Southern Ocean. “The wipeout was like nothing I’ve experienced before or since,’’ says Burcher. “I was sent 20 times deeper than I’d ever been before. I was just praying that I wouldn’t pass out. When I eventually made it to the surface, I couldn’t hear or comprehend anything. My nose was bleeding and I had perforated an eardrum.” McCagh, still filming, maintains composure to capture the moment that would earn him a second XXL nomination for the morning.
“You couldn't help but feel sorry for the poor bastard and what would have been going through his head at the time,” says McCagh. “How guys like him survive the punishment I'll hopefully never know.” But survive Burcher does, albeit a little wary, though he does eventually see the humor in the ridiculous situation. “That wipeout spooked me for a while,” he says. “But looking back on it, it’s kind of embarrassing in a way. I don’t think I could have stuffed up that wave any more if I’d tried. I’m glad it happened though, it made me realize how crazy the ocean can be and I have so much respect for that spot and the people who surf it, especially Ord, I’ve seen him swim in some hazardous locations, but The Right takes the cake.” See it here on Surfline; Footage by Darren McCagh. Little more relaxed back on land.