A morning in Delray Beach.

This morning I had about an hour to get some shooting in before heading off to shoot another project.  Nice warm water, awesome sunrise and no bumping by any big fish!

Thanks to my awesome supporters!

www.PacSafe.com  – Providing me with the best travel bags and gear
www.TrustTheBum.com – Sun Bum – Protecting my skin in the sun!

www.Gitzo.us  – Gitzo Tripods – Supporting all my dry cameras!
www.SolveSunglasses.com –  Buy one pair of Solve’s and give one person clean water for life!

www.CompoundBoardshop.com – The boardshop for all your advendtures!
www.SeafarerSurfboards.com –  World class surfboards made in Florida!

www.Aquatech.net – Aquatech SLR water housings
www.Watershot.com – Making the best Water Housings for my iPhone!

SlaveToTheWave.com

See more of my work: 
Commercial: www.BocaRatonPhoto.com
Fine Art: www.BenJHicks.com
Instagram: @benjhicks
Facebook: www.facebook.com/benhicksphotos

Day 2: Weather!

Wake up and immediately focus on the weather and forecast for the area.  There has been a 60% chance of rain in the area, so I wanted to make sure I knew where the storms were in the morning before deciding which direction to head.  Heading out to the dock it looked like another day in paradise!  I drove the boat over and picked up Gabrielle and Giavanna to join my adventure for the day at 6:30 am, adding some local knowledge and company.  We loaded up and headed south to a reef I had lined up to shoot with the rising sun.  First I scoped out a shot of the Hope Town lighthouse since we were driving right by it.  When we had finally made it to the reef down south the tide was still going out and it took an hour for the water to clear up before visibility became clear again.  We all explored the area for a couple hours.  Shooting conditions weren’t ideal but its always nice to swim into a reef teeming with life!
We got back on the boat and continued to head south to a little bay known for its habitat for Green Sea Turtles.  Playing hooky with the clouds and sun, I eventually got in to see how eager the turtles were to say hi.  In true Bahamas fashion they weren’t so welcoming.  Sea turtles in the Bahamas were hunted for food for a long time.  It wasn’t until just a handful of years ago until it became illegal to hunt them.  They are more skittish here than anywhere else in the world I have been and that may be why.  By the time I had gotten back in the boat the clouds started to deepen, getting thicker and darker.  We headed West to a little in the creeks to find mangroves and check out a blue hole.
At that point the weather really turned.  Pretty much all around us started to get dark.  We decided to head back.  A little disappointing since it was only 11:30am.  On our way back north the storm looked nasty and the lighting had started off on the horizon.  Not really wanting to charge through it we waited it out a bit on a sandbar, taking advantage of the interesting lighting with the aqua blue water and dark clouds.  After shooting a bit there while Giavanna modeled for Gabrielle and I, we had to find cover.  The boat did not have a top and the lighting was getting closer.  Just to the north was an island and a few houses on it.  Picking the one with the most sheltered dock we pulled up and took anything we didn’t want to get wet.  The house was up on the highest part of the island nestled in the short trees (since all the hurricanes wipe out anything that gets tall).  For over 2 hours we waited, watching the rain, listening to the lighting, talking about stuff, and eating what we had.  Finally things seemed to settle with the lighting, although it was still raining a little it was our chance to head north.  Gunning it, we headed north home.  It rained most of the way but we had made it, a little cold.  Dropped off my co pilots and headed to get gas before the gas dock closed.  Got back around 4:30 by the time I had taken the boat back, washed everything off and rode the bike back to the house.  Long day, everything was wet, all my bags and clothes.  Finding out soon after things at the home front weren’t going so smoothly back home.  I would have to change my ticket that night to fly back in the morning.  The weather was also turning for the worst the next two days.  Knowing I would be flying back the next day, after a light snack I headed north on the island to one of my favorite spots and shot until dark.  Getting back around 8pm in the dark, they had saved me some dinner!  Liver!  Seriously liver, but hey its good for you once and a while, right?
I woke up the next morning at 5 am.  Knowing I would need to make the 8 am ferry in the morning I started to pack the night before.  I was off to get one last shoot in before sunrise.   Of course there wasn’t much of a sunrise but you never know until you try.  I headed back on the golf cart about 7:20.  It was 10 mins home and still had to pack and then get a ride to the ferry.  Somehow I made it!  It rained the whole way back to the mainland on the ferry, atleast knowing I wasn’t missing much.  Thanks to everyone that made this trip possible!

Thanks to my awesome supporters!

www.PacSafe.com  – Providing me with the best travel bags and gear
www.TrustTheBum.com – Sun Bum – Protecting my skin in the sun!

www.Gitzo.us  – Gitzo Tripods – Supporting all my dry cameras!
www.SolveSunglasses.com –  Buy one pair of Solve’s and give one person clean water for life!

www.CompoundBoardshop.com – The boardshop for all your advendtures!
www.SeafarerSurfboards.com –  World class surfboards made in Florida!

www.Aquatech.net – Aquatech SLR water housings
www.Watershot.com – Making the best Water Housings for my iPhone!

SlaveToTheWave.com

See more of my work: 
Commercial: www.BocaRatonPhoto.com
Fine Art: www.BenJHicks.com
Instagram: @benjhicks
Facebook: www.facebook.com/benhicksphotos

Day 1: Bahamas Sept 2015

It is always nice to fly over with no air conditioning on the plane.  This way it sets me up for my next 4 days on the water in the sun!  Atleast this time they included my checked back with gear on the flight unlike last time!  My connections here continue to grow with smiling faces and great places to explore!  I have come to stay with our friends (my wife’s, whom I stole) Darrin and Amelia.  They have opened their home to me as well as a fleet of vehicles from golf carts to boats.  Joanne from the Abaco Buzz picked me up at the airport which was very nice.  I will looked forward to working with Gabrielle,  whom has taken me to some magical spots while I share knowledge of shooting.  Thank you all!

I started off the day hoping the contractors working on my house back home were going to show up and wouldn’t give my wife too much trouble as she has to handle it by her self while I am gone this week.  Thank you Cristina for supporting me in so many ways!
Loaded up my gear and headed off at 6am to the docks, loading up the boat and heading south to find good light under the water.  The vast majority of my images are taken in the early hours of the day.  Water surfaces are almost always calmer in the mornings so the evening sessions are harder to nail.
They had gotten the boat dialed before I came with a brand new engine.  Thank you Darrin and Amelia! I headed south from Man-O-War harbor, and hopped in the water at sunrise about 30 min later.
Highlights included nearly getting bit by a eel that came out of nowhere while trying to investigate a rock, stalking by large barracudas, which is expected, saw two four leg Cushion starfish (never seen one before) and getting stung by upside down jellyfish that I accidentally disturbed, sorry guys!

I went to about 5 spots and took about a 10 min break to eat.   630 until 2:30 pm.  Came back for a late lunch and catch up with business back home since I had been behind being gone last weekend.  Amelia cooked up another epic meal and I was off to bed soon after the sun dropped.

Here are about 1/4 of the keepers.  Many will be released at a later date!

Thanks to my awesome supporters!

www.PacSafe.com  – Providing me with the best travel bags and gear
www.TrustTheBum.com – Sun Bum – Protecting my skin in the sun!

www.Gitzo.us  – Gitzo Tripods – Supporting all my dry cameras!
www.SolveSunglasses.com –  Buy one pair of Solve’s and give one person clean water for life!

www.CompoundBoardshop.com – The boardshop for all your advendtures!
www.SeafarerSurfboards.com –  World class surfboards made in Florida!

www.Aquatech.net – Aquatech SLR water housings
www.Watershot.com – Making the best Water Housings for my iPhone!

SlaveToTheWave.com

See more of my work: 
Commercial: www.BocaRatonPhoto.com
Fine Art: www.BenJHicks.com
Instagram: @benjhicks
Facebook: www.facebook.com/benhicksphotos

Day 5 – The day has come

A lot of anticipation was riding on today!  It was our last day and also the first day of a major swell to hit the entire coast of Central American and eventually the US west coast.  Waking up in the dark its always hard to tell if it is indeed bigger.  It was though.  I swam out with my housing and not a flash, as the flash adds almost double the weight and severely hinders my mobility in the water.  It was just myself swimming, Matt, Chip along with floridians Christian and Ben.  The sets were getting bigger by the hour.  I swam for about 3 hours in the increasing surf.  With the strong rip currents it was very hard to position myself to lineup with the.  Christian and I linked up on one as well as catching the others on some pretty good wipeouts, that I will hold back from embarassing them ;).  I got lit up a couple times by jellies again, not so fun.  Pretty good sand burn on my back from slamming on the bottom once too!  The sun was out though finally!  It was a super nice day out.  As the swell rose more and more people came out with their boards and sat on the beach.  hmm.

We all went in to go eat.  I went right back out with my land gear to shoot lineups.  The swell just kept increasing as well the high tide.  For those that paddled out it was either getting a super sick barrel like local Carlos, whom got a couple or get totally pounded in the process.  The peanut gallery increased.  Eventually Matt came back out as the swell was surging and caught a few bombs.  Tucked into a couple but the backwash was keeping it from firing.

The other half of the crew took a cab to check out Popoyo, a nearby break.  They came back and said it was good, but no one had paddled out. Outer Popoyo was firing I had heard later.  Matt and I should of probably headed there.  Colorados was so close to firing.  If we would have left then it probably would of gotten good.

We both went back to the condo started packing and then I went back out to shoot the sunset as the swell pulsed.  Saw some good sized bombs today and Matt and I were both little bummed we couldnt extend our trip to catch the backend of the swell.

 

Thanks to my awesome supporters!

www.PacSafe.com  – Providing me with the best travel bags and gear
www.TrustTheBum.com – Sun Bum – Protecting my skin in the sun!
www.SolveSunglasses.com –  Buy one pair of Solve’s and give one person clean water for life!

www.CompoundBoardshop.com – The boardshop for all your advendtures!
www.SeafarerSurfboards.com –  World class surfboards made in Florida!

www.Aquatech.net – Aquatech SLR water housings
www.Watershot.com – Making the best Water Housings for my iPhone!
Cressi dive gear

SlaveToTheWave.com

See more of my work: 
Commercial: www.BocaRatonPhoto.com
Fine Art: www.BenJHicks.com
Instagram: @benjhicks
Facebook: www.facebook.com/benhicksphotos

Day 4 – Electricity is a luxury

Flashed tube

Flashed tube

Waking up to sweat dripping down your face is never fun at 3:30 am.  The power has pretty much not worked most of the time we have been here, but we have a generator which is not always on.  This morning was the first time the air also did not work.  Well it was time to get up anyway and try to catch up on work and also images from the trip after being behind already.  Going non stop, either editing, prepping gear shooting or eating.  I try to maximize my time here and shooting as much as possible is key to getting what I am trying to achieve.  At the same time I am also covering a trip for the guys that brought me here.  Usually after day 3 it really starts to get physically demanding.  Today I swam about 6 hours with the rip currents really not working with me, lol.  As like most mornings I was out there by myself.  This morning everyone slept in.  Samer and Jerry eventually paddled out.  I was just about done, putting in almost 4 hours but decided to stay out to get them a few more shots.  The tide was getting too high.

I went in and had to get some food in me!  After loading up with eggs rice and a lot of water, I downloaded all the images.  The laptop was getting low on battery with no power so I held off on editing.  The internet and power went back on as I was able to upload the blog from the day before.  Did a little surgery on my heal that had a stone lodged in and then worked on cleaning some of my gear.  We then went back and hung out at the beach club to check the waves again.  Back at it, I swam out with a 50mm lens, the third setup of the day.  I started out the a 8-15 fisheye and Flash, then 70-200.  As soon as we got out there the wind came on shore.  Frustrated we all went back in.
The evening session has a little bit of wind some no one really went out except me.  It was the first evening with clear skies, so I had to take advantage of the light.  Swam until dark and couldn’t see.  Went in and the power was off again, lol.

Thanks to my awesome supporters!

www.PacSafe.com  – Providing me with the best travel bags and gear
www.TrustTheBum.com – Sun Bum – Protecting my skin in the sun!
www.SolveSunglasses.com –  Buy one pair of Solve’s and give one person clean water for life!

www.CompoundBoardshop.com – The boardshop for all your advendtures!
www.SeafarerSurfboards.com –  World class surfboards made in Florida!

www.Aquatech.net – Aquatech SLR water housings
www.Watershot.com – Making the best Water Housings for my iPhone!
Cressi dive gear

SlaveToTheWave.com

See more of my work: 
Commercial: www.BocaRatonPhoto.com
Fine Art: www.BenJHicks.com
Instagram: @benjhicks
Facebook: www.facebook.com/benhicksphotos

Nicaragua Day 3 – Weather rules

Daytime dark peaks.

Daytime dark peaks.

I rose to cloudy skies in the dark and major lighting offshore.  The guys had arranged for a boat trip to Playgrounds surf break.  I made the call not to go, as lightning is no joke.  Watching it offshore , while the clouds rolled in thick the weather continued to get worse.  We all stayed in and made a big breakfast.  Once the storms passed Matt and I paddled out for a surf.  While the weather kept me from shooting, once the tide started to switch it turned on.  I went in to get my camera, as the power was out and was unable to edit or catch up on work.  Shot flash for a bit but it was already done by the time I got back out.  Went in and the guys had gotten a taxi to go to Santanas.  It was only 8am but this time.  We drove to Santanas as the guys hadn’t been there before.  Waves weren’t exactly better but just different.  Jerry and Chip paddled out in the hazy glassed off conditions.  I shot long lens from the tower for a while and listened to the local expats tell stories.  Once they came in we all headed back to where we stayed about 30 mins away.  Driving across the countryside here always keeps my mind in check how good we have it.  I wish that everyone in this world experiences 3rd world poverty.  I am not saying these people aren’t happy, in fact they are probably much less stressed that most of you reading this.  Life is simple here.  Our needs(wants) are not even understandable to them.  Think about it.

After a little lunch (PBJ) I explored down the beach to shoot some lineups.  No one wanted to paddle out, which seems to be a reaccurring pattern on this trip.  I continued to explore the beach and shoot in the hazy conditions.  It wasn’t easy trying to get a shot.

As the sun dipped I went back in to get the water housing and swim for the sunset session.  Didn’t get much as the wind was light onshore, a rarity here.

Thanks to my awesome supporters!

www.PacSafe.com  – Providing me with the best travel bags and gear
www.TrustTheBum.com – Sun Bum – Protecting my skin in the sun!
www.SolveSunglasses.com –  Buy one pair of Solve’s and give one person clean water for life!

www.CompoundBoardshop.com – The boardshop for all your advendtures!
www.SeafarerSurfboards.com –  World class surfboards made in Florida!

www.Aquatech.net – Aquatech SLR water housings
www.Watershot.com – Making the best Water Housings for my iPhone!
Cressi dive gear

SlaveToTheWave.com

See more of my work: 
Commercial: www.BocaRatonPhoto.com
Fine Art: www.BenJHicks.com
Instagram: @benjhicks
Facebook: www.facebook.com/benhicksphotos

 

Nicaragua Day 2 – Jellies!

Good morning from Nicaragua.

Good morning from Nicaragua.

I am stoked to be naturally an early riser and become a photographer.  Getting out there early is key to finding really good light or getting skunked.  I alerted the crew that I was going out and no one got up.  Swimming out in the dark is always just a tad intimidating.  The wind was gone from yesterdays afternoon session and was all glassy.  Since I was out by myself I just focused on shooting empty waves.  Shooting full manual with a flash setup as the sunrises is a constant mission changing the settings.  Not long into the swim I started getting tagged by jellyfish.  Really bad.  I held out until it was too light to shoot flash and then had to swim in about 6am.   Went in to change the camera setup and get a top to hopefully keep from getting stung.  Shot with Chip and Matt for another couple hours.  It was time to go in and eat.  I knew I had to put my water time in the morning as the forecast called for onshore in the afternoon.  Jerry and Samer were watching the whole morning from the restaurant.  They kinda missed the best session for shooting so far but also avoided getting stung.

After eating an acai bowl for breakfast the boys head back out.  I shot from land and we really didn’t get much in the not so ideal conditions.  We all went back to the condo and borrowed the owners truck and headed to the local tiny market to stock up on food and try to avoid the American prices on meals.  The market (1 person shack) nearly had everything we wanted to make food the next few days.  It used to be driving almost 2.5 hours roundtrip to getting food in town but the area continues to grow from tourism.  I got a little nap in before working on my housing to try and get a malfunctioning trigger button to work.

The evening sesh was a little disappointing with the conditions not really improving.  I swam out anyway to try and salvage my time here until dark with the flash but didn’t really get anything.  Not very often can I say that down here.  Atleast there weren’t any more jellyfish!

Back at the crib, Matt and I made a big dinner for the crew in the kitchen, hopefully tomorrow mother nature will come through.

Thanks to my awesome supporters!

www.PacSafe.com  – Providing me with the best travel bags and gear
www.TrustTheBum.com – Sun Bum – Protecting my skin in the sun!
www.SolveSunglasses.com –  Buy one pair of Solve’s and give one person clean water for life!

www.CompoundBoardshop.com – The boardshop for all your advendtures!
www.SeafarerSurfboards.com –  World class surfboards made in Florida!

www.Aquatech.net – Aquatech SLR water housings
www.Watershot.com – Making the best Water Housings for my iPhone!
Cressi dive gear

SlaveToTheWave.com

See more of my work: 
Commercial: www.BocaRatonPhoto.com
Fine Art: www.BenJHicks.com
Instagram: @benjhicks
Facebook: www.facebook.com/benhicksphotos

Nicaragua Day 1

Not a bad sunset view.

Not a bad sunset view.

Florida has been hot and flat for weeks – I’m not complaining though as smooth conditions just result in more underwater time to explore south florida’s amazing creatures of the sea.  It severely cuts into surfing though.  We are all accustomed to living on Lake Atlantic this time of year but no one is really ready for it.  This is why you should have a really good excuse to travel and find some waves.

 

As usual this was a very last minute trip timed around and incoming pulse in swell.  It really wasn’t ideal for me to travel this week, but I was ready to go swim is some real waves and get pounded with 10k worth of gear.  Its photography and I love it.

The trip gathers some new faces and old.  Matt Oberman, chief and potty mouth king, Samer “sledgy”, Chip “sippee” and Jerry, whom will most likely earn a nickname on the trip.  Traveling to Southern Nicaragua which many have you have read about my travels before will always find good waves, no matter what.  We traveled in the middle of the night and arrived at our stay with 1.5 hours until sunrise.  Perfect time for a quick nap before hitting the ground running, or surfing.  The first session is a wake up call for Floridians, especially this time of the year.  I too surfed for a good three hours on my SeaFarer Surfboard, since it was small and not exactly pumping.  Fun waves though.  Thank you to the crew for letting me steal some under priority, according to Matt.  Session tow was followed by a pile of choco banana pancakes.  I shot from land as the wind clocked around becoming onshore.  Naps and then into the sunset session and complete darkness.  Matt and I continued to shoot until we couldn’t even see each other.  It was great to get in the water, but my shoulders were beat after swimming with the flash setup!  Dinner, edits.

Thanks to my awesome supporters!

www.PacSafe.com  – Providing me with the best travel bags and gear
www.TrustTheBum.com – Sun Bum – Protecting my skin in the sun!
www.SolveSunglasses.com –  Buy one pair of Solve’s and give one person clean water for life!

www.CompoundBoardshop.com – The boardshop for all your advendtures!
www.SeafarerSurfboards.com –  World class surfboards made in Florida!

www.Aquatech.net – Aquatech SLR water housings
www.Watershot.com – Making the best Water Housings for my iPhone!
Cressi dive gear

SlaveToTheWave.com

See more of my work: 
Commercial: www.BocaRatonPhoto.com
Fine Art: www.BenJHicks.com
Instagram: @benjhicks
Facebook: www.facebook.com/benhicksphotos

 

 

Surfing….. Lake Michigan in the winter.

BRC_0859MuskegonSurfing

As a surfer for Florida we all have our vision of what cold is.  Today I learned what cold can be like, not really what it is, since I stayed dry.

I am in Michigan this week unfortunately for my grand fathers passing.  I difficult time for me but my dad I and made the most of it with exploring the coast and the winter storm that was hitting.

Every new years a group of Michigan surfers, (hardcore for us) meetup where ever the swell might be best along the west coast of Michigan for the first surf or in some cases just the first dip if there are no waves.  Last year the lake was already frozen over so they couldn’t surf.  Usually thats not a problem for us tropical wave riders.  We headed to the inlet of Muskegon, Michigan where the strong west winds had a shelter.

Because of the last minute trip I didn’t have a coat, so I borrowed one from my aunt, along with mittens, hat and bunch of over things to hopefully keep me warm.  We arrived there about sunrise, which wasn’t until 8:15am.  The winds were about 30mph and the air was about 25 degrees.  Water was in the 30’s.  Hmm, not my idea of surfing conditions.  The reason they are all come out?  Stoke.  The same stoke we all have whatever the conditions might be.  We all live to get out in the water and slide on the waves.  No difference here except a lot more dedication.

They all gathered in the parking lot in there respective cars with the heat blasting in their full suits, booties, hood, gloves, etc.  It was cold, standing outside with all my clothes on.  The wind was blowing hard.  My fingers were numb inside my mittens after shooting images of this scene in 20 mins.  Going surfing?

Everyone gathered on the beach with their “sleds” and then walked across the ice on the sand and went out for a surf. About 20 of them.  The waves were about knee high, really weak.  Smiles were had and stoked was earned.  Definitely earned.  Most lasted about an hour before they came in with a red face and icicles.  Once guy was out atleast 2 hours and his beard was frozen when he came in.  This is what we do to surf.

Day 4: Sending it to end it.

Soul arch.

Soul arch.

It couldnt get much more perfect

It couldn’t get much more perfect

Day 4: Sending it to end it.

Our last day was a morning window to hopefully get the remnants of the swell before we played boats, golf carts, jeeps, planes and cars to get back home.  I swam out in the blue bird conditions with a Canon 24mm prime and full frame Canon 1dx inside an aquatec housing.  Light offshore winds, no clouds and the clearest water of the trip so far.  And…. no one out.  The next 4 hours we waited almost 30 mins between sets, but when they came it was perfect.  By the end my body was shot, starched and dehydrated but my inner camera was smiling.  It was just Matt and Mike while the rest had left early that morning.  After 4 hours of shooting in the water, my legs started to cramp and my core was getting cold.  It was worth it as we came away with some incredible images.  Went in and on my way had to shoot some shore break images in the crystal water.  I ran back to our place and started to quickly pack as fast as I could.  We had to leave in 30 mins for the airport.  No food or water in me yet made concentrating on packing and taking apart the housings was a struggle.  And just like that we were off heading home!  We ran into so many nice people on this trip!  On the way back we met Joanne on the ferry who also offered to drive us to the airport in here island style jeep!  What a nice gesture!  I finally was able to eat a little on the way to the airport and of course the huge rush to get there was greeted by a 2 hour long delay :).  What an awesome trip and thanks to all that support my work and especially Matt Oberman and Mike Bodner (loose nerd) for getting me onboard!  Thanks to the locals for being so generous in sharing there waves!  Here are a few of the B images!  Enjoy!

 

Thanks to my awesome supporters!

www.PacSafe.com  – Providing me with the best travel bags and gear
www.TrustTheBum.com – Sun Bum – Protecting my skin in the sun!
www.SolveSunglasses.com –  Buy one pair of Solve’s and give one person clean water for life!

www.Aquatech.net – Aquatech SLR water housings
www.Watershot.com – Making the best Water Housings for my iPhone!
Cressi dive gear

SlaveToTheWave.com

See more of my work: 
Commercial: www.BocaRatonPhoto.com
Fine Art: www.BenJHicks.com
Instagram: @benjhicks
Facebook: www.facebook.com/benhicksphotos

boardroom