Obscenely expensive camera captures nuance of Mark Healey's classic Nias ride!
Take a real good look at this photograph of Mark Healey from the much-vaunted big swell that hit Indonesia a couple of weeks back.
It ain’t a photo; it’s a frame grab.
After years of digital motion cameras threatening to steal the game away from stills cameras, well, here it is.
At least in theory.
The camera responsible for this frame grab (one of 1000 per second) costs $US140000. It’s called the Phantom Flex 4K.
Australian photographer Chris Bryan, who is forty two and the go-to for water shoots around the world including movies like Point Break, threw his bread down on a Phantom Flex when he got tired of paying three-gees a day to hire one.
And, when it seemed like the entire surfing world was going to converge on the Indonesian island of Nias to greet the swell, Chris grabbed his Phantom and joined the party.
This frame grab from a ride of Mark Healey is an example of how good the camera works. (Note: and this is a low-res version.)
‘That wave of Healey’s was crazy,” says Chris. “I don’t know how big a board he was on, this rhino chaser thing, but the…quivering… of the wave as he came off the bottom. The wave’s moving so fast and it has no back on it. You hear surfers talking about heavy the wave is, but if I hadn’t been there and swimming, I would’ve thought they were talking it up. When you’re out there you see how much water moves. It’s a lot heavier than the photographs. You get an appreciation of what’s going on. It’s like Mavericks with a little bit of Waimea mixed in.
“Healey got into this from further out than everyone because of the bigger board. His whole theory is not to get a ton of waves but a couple of memorable, big, heavy waves. So he waits for a long time. And, here, he took off in the perfect spot and the way he came off the bottom was incredible. I can’t imagine many other goofyfooters being able to do that. Naturalfooters seem to have the backside bottom turn wired, Jamie O’Brien, Kelly Slater, John John, but it’s rare to see goofyfooters in a similar position.
“So he came off the bottom, squeaked under the lip and I remember there was a moment when he grabbed the rail, went through a shock wave, still in the thing, and he looked so strong and stylish on his feet. He didn’t make the wave, it closed out in the channel, but the way he held on for so long, well, I personally haven’t been there to witness someone put that together in such a heavy situation.”
As for the swell, Chris says an Australian who’d lived there for forty years had never seen it so big.
“Waves were closing out the bay,” he says. “That never happens.”
Oh! And the famous boat incident? Where Chris shrieked with delight that he’d secured the best footage of his career?
“I was hoping was going to get sucked over. Is it bad of me to say that?”