Day 5 – solo sessions

Another one goes unridden

The clock ticked to 515 and my brain was awake!  I am an early riser, great being a photographer and even better for my wife now that we have another early riser, Carson our son.  One last chance effort to try and figure out the flash before I break it down and just shoot without.  No avail.  :(.  You win some and you lose, this trip the flash won.  It wasn’t the first and won’t be the last the equipment failure haunts me.  Just have to roll with the punches.  I decided to shoot with a 50mm 1.2 prime lens, which can produce some amazing results.  My dad and I headed down to South Jetties in Venice Florida about 615.  Not a soul in sight, my favorite time of the day!  Still clean long lines coming in and was about waist high.  Looked super fun to surf.  Such a great moment to get out there with my dad.  Having my best friend as my dad is something I hope that can happen one day with my son.  I swam out while he surfed.  We had it to ourselves for over and hour long after sunrise.  It amazes me there were not more people out.  On the east coast it would have been packed and we get way more wave oppourtunites than they do.  I shot for almost 1.5hrs.  By the time everyone showed up the tide was too high and was really only longboardable.  Since longboarding is way too boring for me (although I have a couple longboards) we got our shortboard SUP’s and headed back out for another 1.5hrs.  It was tough for me with my back issues but always have a blast getting out in the water with my dad.  After the morning session it was time for me to head back to the east coast as I had a ton of work piling up.  Thanks for following along!

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.Proshotcase.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 4 – Camera woes

Jake into the shade.

The night before there were a lot of indicators that it was going to get good.  Still lots of swell, dying wind 3 hrs before sunrise and clear weather.  I prepped the night before my gear as usual and planned a beach meeting at 630am, about 45 min before sunrise.  In the dark it looked promising but always hard to tell until you get out there.  Jake, Andy, my dad and I swam out.  Before even reaching the sandbar, I realized my flash was not working.  Immediately I swam back in and started trouble shooting.  My window to those during this twilight hour is so small and realizing I was going to miss it was very disappointing.  I headed back to the car and troubleshot the best I could.  After about 10 min I took the flash out and tried to make it happen anyway.  By this time there was almost too much light to shoot flash anyway.  The red tide was still there but much better than the day before.  My eyes didn’t burn but I coughed constantly the entire 2 hr session.   Upped my ab workout in the surf shooting fisheye.  A couple drainers were had and Jake and I linked up a couple times.  Fun morning to start off a great “winter” day in Florida.

After a quick recharge with food I was back at it.  This time heading to South Jetty in Venice Florida, about a mile north of where we went in the morning.  The wind was still light and offshore.  The swell was peaking and looked really fun.  Before swimming back out I took a couple aerial images with the drone.  Birds eye, looking for dolphins but didn’t find any.  Tayler Brothers came in and said it had gotten fun down the beach.  I suited up, in just a shorty as the water wasn’t too cold and the air was perfect. We headed down the beach into the sandbar dredgers to try and get a couple.  We didn’t link up with a barrel shot but got a couple others.  Red tide was still around, as it had been for almost 6 months!  Since I haven’t shot in larger waves in a while (constantly kicking against a current) my feet were full of blisters on each side from my fins.  Keeps you on your toes, literally.

As the tide came in and it started to get a little too high for shooting barrels, I switched my camera for my board.  Really fun waves and surfed for almost two hours.  It was about 1:30 and I had already had about 5hrs in the water.  My back kept me from really pushing full bore on turns, it was still fun to get out there.  Headed to home base for a late lunch.  I also chatted with Brian from Aquatech, the company that makes my awesome housings.  We struggled to figure out why the flash wasn’t syncing.  I then took apart every wire and finally ended up figuring out a solution for it to work.  Headed back to the South jetty about 3:30 and got another surf in while I waited for the light to get good to shoot in the evening.  Another fun but very stiff session.  By this time most of the locals were already burnt out from surfing the last 3 days.  I always find it strange why so many surfers will hang out and talk about surfing while they could instead be out there?  Hey more waves for me right?  I headed back out with the flash housing just before sunset.  Just as I got out there, I faced another issue.  The flash was set to 1/4 and would not move.  I was stuck with that and had to adjust the rest of the camera setting to hopefully make up for it.  A tough problem since I shoot fully manual.  So frustrating as the waves and sunset were perfect for shooting.  Got a couple but not at all what I was intending.  On the bright side, I was out there doing what I love and it was beautiful.  A bonus to have my dad along side this whole time.  So grateful.

 

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.Proshotcase.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 – Red Tide

Sunset on Venice, Beach

Rumor has it red tide has been lingering around the area I am in for the past 6 months.  It can be brutal on the lungs and eyes.  Killing a lot of fish along the way.  With the swell purging and the winds howling we ventured out at the best spot around for dredging pits to shoot.  It was victory at sea to say the least.  Within 10 mins your eyes were burning from the red tide infused salt spray hitting your face.  We drifted in the current for about 45 mins before Jake, myself, Tayler and Andy couldn’t open our eyes.  The winds were super strong and had most beaches unridable and along with many closed access.  South Jetty in Venice, Florida was completely closed with the water washing over the parking lot.  This is one of the biggest swells they have had in years here.  Unique was the fact that this front was very far south and didn’t bring much cold.  Whenever I have chased it over here we always run into super cold weather, not something I enjoy…  Tomorrow should be a completely different ocean as the wind turns and the swell cleans up.

 

Day 5: Boom

Best light is right at sunrise!

Best light is right at sunrise!

The morning started without a cloud in the sky.  Sleeping was not happening as my blistered feet from the past 4 days throbbed.  It was still dark at 4 am but was nice to go outside and watch the stars set.  Our beds were pretty much like at home but without the mattress, just the box spring.   Not a good combo for being sore.  It was tempting to not swim out but I knew the sun would light things up out there.  I swam out by myself again as the sun rose.  Tide was off to be firing but the waves were clean with offshore winds.  I stayed out for about an hour until the sun was too high.  Headed in for breakfast and a little rest.  Smoothies are a must here!  We all took it easy the next few hours until the tide switched.  Once it switched, it turned on!  Matt was on it quick!  Jimmy and I followed limping on the beach path.    I decided against swimming again as the blisters on my feet were starting to get infected.  I shot long lens from the beach for about an hour.  It really only fired for about 30 min.  This place goes on and off so quickly!  We all headed back to the room to start packing and listen to Matt bored out of his mind.  Packing slowly into the evening, our pickup for the 3hr drive to the airport was at 8pm.  We squared up what we owed and grabbed one last dinner before getting in the van.  Another long night was ahead of us!  Our flight left on time just after 1am and landed in Fort Lauderdale at 530.  Another one in the books!  Thanks to all of you for following me along on another adventure!  Till next time!

 

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 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

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