Day 4: The food chain

Just got the bat.  Heavy!

Just got the bat. Heavy!

Another early morning swimming out to sunrise about 5 am.  Didn’t get much as the sunrise didn’t really exist.  Waves were fun but lining up to shoot fisheye has not been very successful while we have been here.  Along with gear hickups its always keeping me on my toes.  Ended up putting wax into my main housing seal to help seal it while I am here.  Pretty sketchy with all the gear inside and possibly getting a leak.

After the morning session, I headed to breakfast as the boys had come out later and stayed out later.  I was on my laptop emailing about to eat my pancakes and fruit.  A bunch of comotion up in the corner of the giant palapa I was having breakfast under started.  I thought it was a bird nesting or something.  Then all the sudden whatever it was fell to the ground 5 feet from where I was sitting on the ground.  Ran over to expect a bird or something.  To my surprise it was a Boa constrictor strangling a bat!  Couldn’t believe was I was watching.  It is sad to see but that is how mother nature works.  The food chain is a part of life.  We all watched the snake slowly kill it and then swallow it whole, wings and everything. Definitely the craziest thing on this trip.  After that I went for a hike up the coast to the point to explore.  Pretty hot!  On my way back I was near a line of palm trees walking around and two dogs came out of nowhere running at me.  I had a monopod I pulled out and defended them off.  Pretty sketchy.  Got back near the water line quickly.  Headed back to the compound and the guys were heading out.  Didn’t look that good but I decided to swim out anyway with my 24 lens.  Wasn’t out long before I realized it wasn’t shootable.  Went in to trade my camera for a surfboard and then caught a bunch of waves before lunch.  Afternoon came quick, as well all took a quick nap.  A little cornhole action and then the evening session was approaching.  Hooked up my flash and headed out by myself as no one wanted to surf.  A couple bodysurfers joined me for the sunset session.  Good way to watch the sunset, in the water!

Thanks to my awesome supporters!

www.RVCA.com – Providing the best boardshorts, clothing and wetsuits, supporting artists from around the world.

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.Manfrotto.us – Professional camera support gear

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 3: Swell stories

What a storm!

What a storm!

Headed out this morning after a lovely sleep on bare springs (aka my bed) to shoot flash in the dark.  The swell had risen over night as expected but wasn’t ideal.  But we are here and have to make the most of it.  I was the only to go out which left me no one to shoot except empty waves.  Nothing panned out too well but there was a pretty sweet sunrise!  I headed back in just as the others decided to paddle out.  The tide was pretty high by 7am.  I decided to shoot from land until about 830.  Unorganized peaks came in and handed out a bunch of denied attempts.  One by one most everyone came in from either breaking a leash or having no energy to paddle back out.  Lots of good wipeouts.  The aussies were down the beach rooting them on.

We all came in to eat breakfast and wait out the high tide for hope that it would fire with the outgoing tide.  I didn’t come to perfection like we had hoped.  We still went back out.  The blisters on my feet were raw.  I think the left ankle bone was visible.  Burned!  All I could do was just think about shooting.  I swam back out to try and get a fisheye shot.  Luck wasn’t on my side as my housing had a small leak somewhere forcing me to swim back in soon after.  Almost 10 min later I finally made it in past the rips.  Headed back and switched out the housing for land gear.  Headed up the yoga tower and shot from there!  Nice shade a breeze and excellant view of the break.  The waves weren’t cooperating and the guys headed in.  Lunch was soon after with the best yet, chicken bocadillos.  A piece of fried cheese, grilled chicken on a plantain!

The afternoon came with a storm rolling through.  Amazing what mother nature can do!  Really neat clouds before the lighting started and I rushed back inside.  Once storms passed it was time to go back out, as the waves glasses off.  Thinking I had the housing fixed with a re lube of the main o-ring.  Good thing I tested it in the pool before going back out.  Started leaking again.  So frustrating at a moment like this.  Of course the waves started to pump and I had no housing that would work.  Eventually jammed wax into a seal groove and temporarily fixed for the session.  By the time I made it out, it was almost dark.   No one seemed to care I nearly lost 15k worth of gear to salt water once I got out there.  I kept swimming until almost dark in the pounding waves.  One guy left out there and said, “Man you must get pounded swimming like that.”  I said yeah I do.

 

Thanks to my awesome supporters!

www.RVCA.com – Providing the best boardshorts, clothing and wetsuits, supporting artists from around the world.

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.Manfrotto.us – Professional camera support gear

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 – Peak battles and long sessions

Lots to hear from this one.

Lots to hear from this one.

Set the alarm early this morning to be on it.  Woke up to cloudy skies and waited until the sun rose as the early flash session will have to wait until another day.  I swam out about 5am with the 1dx and 70-200, a heavy combo.  Its not my everyday surf rig but wanted to shoot a little different that the day before.  It turned out to be a good call.

I went in about 10am, yeah almost 5hrs.  Both Matt and Jimmy stayed about another hour.  My battery had died along with my legs from swimming.  They stayed out as it was still getting better and the wind was still offshore.  Low tide wasn’t until 1:30.  I headed back out with my long lens to shoot from the beach for a bit before they came in.  Just after arriving Matt and another “individual” decided to “share” a wave.  (See photo)  Story goes, (from Matt), the kid paddled around him as a set came and said going right, since Matt really only goes left, he thought, “cool.”  Turns out the kids then decided to then go left after Matt had committed.  Well, as you can see in the photo, either the kid was giving him the thumbs up or not so happy.  Matt got a pretty good barrel.  Jimmy and I, (before we knew the story), thought there was gonna be words at breakfast since we were all staying at the same place.  Turns out the kid works here and was burning all the guests all day.  Spoke with some other guests and they were all stoked to hear the story as he was burning them as well.  Turned out to be a funny photo!  The kid didn’t say a word at breakfast, lol.   Huevos rancheros was on tap, along with a smoothie and large water.  We were all beat and had to take a rest.  My back issue had gotten better but still making it hard to swim, especially since the waves had gotten a lot bigger.  The rest of the day we all did various things to keep busy.  I did some work, watched the new john john movie and more work.  In the evening before dinner, I hiked south to the huge palapa you could see on the beach in the distance.  There was no one there, looked like a beach club or something.  Dinner came fast and by 8pm everyone was asleep and yours truly was editing and writing this.  Swell is suppose to be even bigger tomorrow, fingers crossed.

Thanks to my awesome supporters!

www.RVCA.com – Providing the best boardshorts, clothing and wetsuits, supporting artists from around the world.

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.Manfrotto.us – Professional camera support gear

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 avoiding Zika and looking for waves

Today started yesterday as we flew from Fort Lauderdale last night and traveled until 4am this morning.  The ride from the airport (with the windows open) was filled with smells of burning trash, dead animals, skunks and Matt’s farts.  We arrived and slept about an hour until the light came in.  We all headed out for a first session as the swell was suppose to be rising.  I have been gimping around with a stiff neck since pulling my back out the day before.  That left my first session open to attempting to stretch it out.   Luckily the swell hadn’t filled in yet and my poundings out there swimming with my camera will be saved for another day.  Within a few hours the wind started to come onshore at 8am.  That was not a good sign.  I was the first to go in and take more ibprofen. Breakfast was banana pankcakes, can’t beat that!

Since sleep hadn’t happened in over 24hrs it was time to snooze a bit.  Matt and I slept for a good 4hrs while Felipe (Jimmy) was still running on jet fueled coffee.  By 2pm the wind was super hard onshore and it was back to finding other things to do. Naturally I had a bunch of work to catch up on.  Soon after I had to beat Matt in Cornhole.  As the wind came down we all went out to surf and evening session.  I even grabbed a board but unfortunately could hardly even go down the line with my back.  Atleast I got wet again.  The food here has been awesome and cheap!  Hopefully the wind stays off a little longer tomorrow!

Thanks to my awesome supporters!

www.RVCA.com – Providing the best boardshorts, clothing and wetsuits, supporting artists from around the world.

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.Manfrotto.us – Professional camera support gear

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

Following the predictions of mother nature.

After being home just two days this month I head to Nicaragua to a new spot I have yet to explore.  We have our fingers crossed as the southern hemi swells increase this week. Tonight we will fly and drive all night to hopefully wake to magic.  Stayed tuned for more this week.  IMG_7300Gear

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