I was down at California Street the other night to capture a few images of Malibu Surfer Brooke Carlson, the newest member of “Team Betty” for my wife’s company Bettybelts, when I saw someone headed into the water with what looked like a dive housing and a surfboard.
It cracked me up. We call that sort of work where you ride and shoot or film another surfer: “board to board” work. It is tricky at best and amazingly difficult at worst.
This image is the guy shooting. Again, hard to do.
The lead image in this article is a shot from the Hot Curl Project which was an involved historic replication of a surfboard that supposed experts in surf journalism had insisted played little to no role in equipment development at the time. (This was later soundly disproved).
I shot this while standing on the nose of a tandem board with veteran Cinematographer and waterman Greg Huglin steering. I had been in what we laughingly referred to as the “Bitch Position”. Those of you who know Tandem know what this refers to.
I used a wide angle Canon 15mm on a Canon film body in a Kobetich housing, so that I could pre set focus and just point the camera at my subject (No looking through the viewfinder and focusing) We term that technique “Blind Framing” It is also the same technique used in high speed film capture where the cameras had no active viewfinder while rolling.
Shooting this was a little difficult, but not that bad, mostly just Greg and I laughing our asses off. He and I had been working on a vast collection of high speed footage for his HD resolution motion picture library. This was easier than most of what we had been endeavoring.
The style of shooting board to board was pretty much pioneered on Oahu’s South shore by the beach boys who would take tourists surfing. Of course many would need to have a photo, so the beach boys would shoot from a canoe or surfboard. This style of photography when applied to motion picture is called a tracking shot.
Not many may know this but Bud Browne pioneered much of surf photography and helped develop water and board to board work. His Wiki page says a lot and you should know about it so the link is here.
Another Brown made good use of the technique which places the image viewer in the lineup in his award winning iconic film “The Endless Summer”, film maker and pioneer Bruce Brown. Bruce is alive and well, and lives up in Gaviota Ca. at this writing.
Today with the advent of POV cameras like the Go Pro or increasingly smaller and lighter housed DSLR’s, we are witnessing some amazing board to board work where the surfer and photographer tow into a wave together and pretty much pull into the barrel. High risk. But the reward has been imagery which has tended to not exist prior. That is sort of important for a number of reasons.
I will cover PWC based shooting at another time on here, as it is a rather deep subject in and of itself.
Aloha nui loa.