Thursday, August 25, 2016

Dungeons and Dragons

I always had this image in my head about what it must be like out there in the ocean when you are a big wave surfer.  The images you see in the media makes the hair on your back of your neck stand up. Like anything else that includes some dedicated athleticism I guess one will only really know when you are paddling out there yourself after years of training.  I had however the opportunity to go take pictures on a day when the waves were breaking at Dungeons, South Africa's biggest wave spot and counted under the best in the world for wave riding.

There seems to be two ways to get to Dungeons which is situated behind the Sentinel at Houtbay. Either walk across the saddle of Sentinel and paddle out, or take a boat out.  I was lucky to be on a boat. Just as well because I was there to take pictures, not surf.  We left from the NSRI slipway in the Hout Bay harbour and a 10 minute boat ride took us to where we could safely sit and watch the waves of Dungeons doing their thing. We weren't the only spectators, there were tourist boats, support on paddle skis, photographers on paddleskis and everybody else it seems that could get something that floats.  I was going to find out soon that taking a shot without a paddle ski or boat in the frame was going to be difficult.  Luckily sometimes an object in front gives you a nice perspective of the size of the waves.  I tried to incorporate the objects in such a way that it did not distract one's eye from the actual surfer, but that was not always possible. A lot of my images ended up in the bin.

So after the opportunity to shoot from a boat I can point out a few disadvantages of doing it from there.  The advantages are clear, you can get some of the best shots of surf spots where you would never be able to get that same angle from the beach.  What was a bit annoying on this day was the amount of traffic in the water.  Always a boat of someone in front of you.  Secondly getting the best angle is difficult, because you cannot drive around and look for the perfect spot to park your boat. The current moves the boat and the skipper had to make a turn every time to get back to position. There is not room for capturing unique images.  Everyone on the boat takes the same pictures from the same angles.  The end result is 20 people sitting with the same images.  If you cannot add any of your own creativity to your shots you are not standing out. Something which I never thought would be a problem was the size of my lens.  My 600mm at some points were too long and when the guys were surfing closer towards the boat you could not get them into the frame.  But then again, most of the action happened a bit further out where the 600mm was just perfect. Lastly is the bopping on the water.  If you cannot stand steady or rock with the boat you lose track of where the surfer is and sometimes you get sky or just water. But this only happened for the closer up shots.

Despite everything mentioned above, the pro's outweigh the cons.  It is amazing out there on the water. The images are breathtaking and the whole experience was just something you want to do again. Below are a couple of the shots from the trip.  For more images of Dungeons and other surf spots please visit my facebook page.

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