Posts Tagged ‘Blue Note’

Risk Perception

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

Risk Perception

The image above was shot during the 2010 Maverick’s Challenge where I worked as support and Photographer for K38 Rescue, who ran Event Ocean Safety and in process was in charge of training a cadre of local watermen to be a Rescue team. That local team was headed up by Vince Broglio. It was a big and perfect day. Possibly the biggest, best surf, ever paddled into for a competitive event.

The quote is something Shawn said in one of our project groups this week. And I immediately turned it into an Oceanlovers Blue Note. Blue Notes are wisdom gleaned from the Sea, basically. You can find them here on Oceanlovers’ site, and you should be able to right click grab them. They are meant to be shared.

I study risk. Have for a long time now. As someone with a background in high risk competitive sports as well as a depth of Ocean experience, if I were not risk aware, I would not be sitting here typing on a Saturday morning. But this week has prompted me to want to expound a little on Risk Perception. You see, Risk is always there. But it is our understanding and awareness of it which allows us to potentially manage some of that potential threat to our own and other’s life and limb, with our choices and actions, and hopefully, to come away unscathed.

This is a very complex and layered subject. I have written a little bit about Shawn and I’s affiliation and relationship here in this regard in Peaking in Seconds and Feet. The people I work with via K38 Rescue and in my other various affiliations, are world leaders in various aspects of emergency response. We all support each other, mentor, and yes hold ourselves accountable, as members of a large Community. Accountability is everything when managing risk.

Understanding is what we strive for, as responsibility for our own safety and that of our subjects as professional imagers, needs to underpin our life. Without that you would see a pattern develop in and around your work which would include injuries-damage  to yourself, equipment and subjects. So we study to learn the risk, safeguard ourselves, and push for a more pleasant experience and to set an appropriate example for others.

Let me underscore something, speaking of accountability. I have never been hurt filming or shooting. With the exception of smacking Sean Tully, one of my long term collaborators in the head, when a lip grabbed an overly large waterhousing, I have never hurt or lost anyone. (I repaired Sean’s scalp wound. Being able to do that is another story) So in almost 15 years of filming all over the world, that means no bad cuts, head injuries, sprained or broken anything. Zilch. Nada. Zip.

I believe it is possible for anyone to have that track record. But Risk Perception, it is multi-layered, and I want to share one of the layers here.

This week has been full of Kite board filming and stills shooting. I consider this subject and utilizing a water POV to be exceptionally high risk for a number of reasons. A photographer could suffer instantaneous death from a variety of means. I am not going to go into the details, but this week it went smoothly. Here is one of many images collected and a part of a film I am developing. And yes, another Blue Note.

Blue Note: Kite

I always watch the Ocean. My connection to it is so involved and intimate, I am not going to endeavor to explain the relationship in a technical manner. But I will share some precepts.

My wife has been surprised to see the large volume of very high bar water work I have generated this Summer along our coast. That is unusual, as it is rare for the large combination of variables I require to attain my image quality bar, to happen in Summer. She sees the commitment and struggle, some of it anyway, as we talk about managing the vast array of details which comprise a career. Nevertheless, she has been remarking on what has wandered in the pixel door lately.

Two days ago things lined up for a special evening. I had been watching a break for some time now. Studied it, learned the parameters of tide swell, current, conditions etc. I thought it had potential to provide for some great work. But I had not yet swum it.  Eventually understanding risk comes down to going. You must go and challenge your understanding at some point, in order to convert the experience into knowledge.

Driving down Coast on a hot, blue, placid day I was inexplicably unsettled inside. When I got to the break I had thought we would be filming at, perfect little shoulder to head high peaks threw out in hollow top lit blue cylinders, in an idyllic California-esque  beach day. Woo hoo! But inside was a voice.

Looking down coast at that spot I had been watching, I saw a few waves break and recognized that today was likely as good a day as ever to swim the place. Lars Rathje arrived, who is one of my close collaborators. His younger brother Hans was on the way. With increasing excitement we watched a few well overhead sets roll through and I carefully loaded my SPL waterhousing, placing the Canon 5DM2 with wide angle zoom into the case, setting everything and then buttoning up and prepping the port. It is a routine and process which I have done literally thousands of times.

I tugged my wetsuit on, grabbed my housing and fins and we picked our way down the cliff to a narrowing sandy beach strewn with the odd big rock. Neither of us was 100 percent on what the bottom looked like. We suspected it would be soft sand as we had seen the break shifting a bit over the course of a year, and that shift usually indicates sandbar movement related to littoral flow.

As we got to the water’s edge I turned to Lars and said this on the most perfect beautiful risk absent day one could ever imagine. “Pay close attention out here today. Really close attention. There is something not right about this.

And we swum out. Below are the first and last frames I shot that night. Easy, perfect, brilliant, fun. Right?

First Frame

Last Frame

Here is what happened.

The lineup features two peaks, one a left and one primarily a right. On high tide (tide was filling in) a side wave pushes across the lineup creating an explosive and dramatic backwash condition. Part of what we were there to experience was the water morph. The first wave Lars barely got into it via the back door and as the side wave hit it kicked open. That dry hair shot above was the first one of the evening .

We had to play everything very close due to the combination of conditions, so frequently we were in touching distance. That is not so unusual for water work. I actually call this type of shooting “contact work” as one is generally within touching distance when one shoots. You endeavor to have the ocean and your approach create a near miss scenario. We both laughed that in the first 5 minutes we had nailed it. That does not happen too often. Perfection is complex. It takes some effort.

An hour later a wave double concussed and as I came back to the surface I saw that my housing had leaked. The dreaded Death all Water Photographers seek to avoid was in process. Due to the design of SPL’s system, the camera sits on a plate which keeps it elevated. You can technically semi flood a housing and not lose the camera if you are careful. “Hey Lars, I am out. Housing leak. Going to the beach and see if I can fix it. Camera is still alive.” Hans had just paddled out to join us.

I swum in, managing to keep the housing out of the water and in the shore pound saw I would need to take a wave to the body. In spite of backing in to the beach, I was very aware of my position. I knew that one big rock was nearby and where it was. The wave slapped me ashore and housing held high, I was swept up the beach right past that rock. Hmm. An hour down and several high risk potential things had gone down.

I climbed up the cliff, went to the back of my car, and disassembled, dried, cleaned and re assembled my gear. A half hour later I was back at water’s edge. The boys had moved back up the beach. The lineup was empty. I normally love that. But inside the voice was an alarm bell still. I had a close look, nothing apparent, dipping my housing, it was holding the seal and all seemed fine, so into the blue I plunged, and in 50 yards I was in perfect position for a beautiful backwash blast. The loud crack as the two waves blasted into oblivion made for a great capture. We all sort of live our lives in the impact zone, those of us that do this, and we truly love being there. So we mind the blasts. That is part of our innate risk management

Popping up I saw a sea lion gliding by. He was acting skittish. Not unusual. They tend to be a lot like dogs and are sometimes very friendly and at others, stand offish or aggressive. He disappeared. I noticed that I was the only thing on the surface. Then came that voice and something new: a tap on the shoulder. Something was out there with me. That never alarms me believe it or not. I just watch the water, keep my housing down around my legs and pay attention. It is not uncommon for sharks to come up and take a look at me and the sun was getting low on the horizon. It was nearing dinner time for the Sea.

I saw nothing. It had been awhile and the long period Southern hemi swell seemed to be lulling out so I worked my way into the shorepound, wishing that the boys would come back so we could shoot a bit more surf stuff. Near shore my inner alarm went off. It is this imminent collision intuition one has that was saying “Do not be here”. So I swam back out. Yep. As a blue wave danced onto the sandbar I saw the shadow and profile of the shark. Looked like a 6-8 footer.¬† I could not tell what type but assumed it to be a Thresher. Sort of reminded me of a Tiger though, by it’s movement. But that would be odd. He was headed away. The “alarm” went off. My inner voice was still alert.

I set about capturing and creating the images I was after, and in a bit Hans swam out to join me sans board. Bodysurfing the warm, slabby wedges. We connected a few times and were both laughing. In a bit we saw Lars wander back down the beach with  a stunning looking woman with him. They chatted a few minutes and he joined us, and began to work some difficult angles.

An hour later as the sun began to drop behind a coastal mountain to our West, I had bait rise flash all around me, and fish flew out of the water, encircling me in a silvery rainbow. I laughed. But I knew something caused that. I had seen it before swimming a remote wave in Mexico right before a very large Tiger had appeared mid wave and shown me the door.

Swimming back out, a wave doubled up and I eased under it. Uh oh. Shallow spot in the sand bar. The lip bounced me off the bottom, rag dolled me and as I surfaced, I saw some scratches on my housing port. Shoots. Damage. Repairable and the marks were not in the lens’ line of sight. Whew. Next wave was perfect. Nailed it. Then Lars, who was sitting further outside said “Hey David, check it out, we have a bait ball just offshore. Wow, did you see that? Two dolphins, a baby and an older one!”

We worked the last half hour alone as Hans had gone in and was watching us as the light ebbed. Then Lars went in, and I was out alone in the stillness of evening, light waning and realized that all was quiet inside of me. I swam to the outside shot a couple more frames and began to work shoreward. A set missed the outside sandbar and doubled up just as a backwash wave hit and I shot a final last frame, that beautiful one above.

So I dragged you along on this tale to explain that though what I do looks easy, and I make it out as such, one of the primary reasons is that I know the risks, yes, but that my perception is highly trained and tuned. That part is not so special nor as arrogant as it may at first read. It is how we all should be, who have a grasp on what it means to be human, living in a body, designed to walk the land, but composed largely of salt water, and wedded to the Sea.

Below are a few more of the 24 A list images from the evening.

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Awards and Praise

Thursday, July 25th, 2013
Backlite

Backlite

The above image was shot a short while ago. For me it is sort of the peak of  what is possible with modern DSLR imaging. The detail and various aspects which make an incredibly complex subject rendered to perfection are all there. This is why I am not posting the two images which are being discussed below, in  a pasted in conversation with one of my editors at Corbis.

My work evolves. It is far better than ever before. If that process was not building in such a way, I would stop. But many who die, who have reached bottom do not stop. And they are tenuously still in Publishing.

Here is that conversation.

“Wow, congratulations on the award”

It was funny Michele. I was at the Surfer Poll awards shooting for the magazine when someone came and found me and dragged me up on stage in front of about 3 k people, where my editor said ” A lot of people want to know how you did this, and how it was lit?”(It was one of the first images created using high speed sync flash, which Canon had innovated)

My answer as I looked out at the crowd: “I read the Canon manual. It is right there on page 18″ Everybody laughed and I grabbed the award and went back to work.

This image came on the heels of another magazine cover for The Surfers Journal which some in the industry called the greatest image descriptive of the sport in it’s History.

All that stuff is nice, but you cannot eat praise or awards.

Why Corbis matters. And it keeps me in the water somewhere in the world every day. Thank you !

Now back to the point of this post on Awards and Praise.

The way my work moved forward was via the connectedness and support of professional publishing which was run as a purely editorial concern firstly, to provide real time documentation of the sport as it occurred around the world. The second order of the day was advertising.

As the world morphed publishing reversed and editorial became advertorial and what we refer to in Marketing as the race to the bottom began. Then the publishing bankruptcies began. Out of this a restructure occurred when most professionals were jettisoned and literally told not to bother submitting work as it would not be looked at. Publishing then engaged a green new crop which could be more easily controlled and taken advantage of more or less. I won’t go into it, as the explanation is one of photobiz tediousness. But basically the publishing companies hit bottom and figured out a way to stay there.

Cue social media where a photographer can display his work and progress and connect directly to the market via Blog, Facebook, Twitter et al.

Cue Publishers who now say shunned senior staff cannot be published because they showed their work to a few people via their networks and that makes the image “dead”. What that says to me is not unlike the conversation of a jealous girlfriend who saw you talking to another woman and beat you up for it when you return home together each day. It just does not make much sense.

This is why.

Social media allows an Artist to connect his work and that of his publications to a far greater-different audience. The lack of understanding of how Permission based marketing and social media which is based upon it is exactly why publishing is hitting bottom perpetually. They do not understand the concepts of generosity and connection. Yet all great Art is based upon those things.

So what does that say about the greenies working for those struggling publications and the content itself?

Here is a cool vid I did for Blue Mind 2013 on Block Island¬† recently, which was part of a presentation I did on Beauty and it’s effect on Humanity. I bookended at the event with painter Ran Ortner, whose work I love.

Here is another I built using the latest iteration from Adobe of LR5 which allows motion to be included. It is created for a fantastic project which serves the restoration of US Military severely wounded (Purple Heart Veterans). The project is called the Never Quit Challenge which will be a historic return to NYC and Ground Zero of our people who sacrificed everything, in service to this Nation. The project details are in the video liner notes. Never Quit Challenge:Dancing Girl.

This image is from the Ocean Lovers Collective Blue Notes Project where we are building change that matters.

You can also support this incredibly ambitious project and my work, by purchasing Art via Ocean Lovers’ online store. Browse the site. See who is involved, and what we are about. If you like it, climb aboard. We are creating a new better world via intelligent approach to caring for people and the Oceans. There even is a new Realtime Gallery where work is uploaded as it is created around the world. Change that matters is collaborative. We need YOU for any of this to matter.

Blue Note of change

Blue Note of change

No plans to visit the bottom ever.

Onward! Aloha nui Loa.

Blue Note

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

There have been a  series of pointed questions aimed in my direction the past year or so.

Many of those have resulted in my being invited into conversations, where my presence as a Creative was sought for a variety of purposes. A year ago, I laughed at the preposterously huge scope of the problems.

Today I am stunned by the knowledge that we have located solutions for them.

In ONE year. These are huge issues. So how to start, in seeing that they are implemented?

 

 

Behind it all, is my firm belief that only in a collective effort, based around an understanding of the Sea, and Man’s ability to accurately assess and design solutions according to a long term cycle, will true and valid choices be made.

Why the Ocean? Why the Big Blue?

That is where life came from, and in that fluid passivity is found a great expansive intelligence.

Mankind has a vested interest in seeking what many of us term¬† “win-win” sort of solutions, which our world really needs, in order to gain exponential results, in defiance of the entropy we see emerging daily, around us all.

Some of these projects, I am not at liberty to discuss. However, there are a few being launched, that I am able to touch upon. In the ensuing months I will log some of these into the blog here, from time to time.

One project, done under the auspices of a new collaborative business endeavor named Ocean Lovers, is called the Blue Note. It is a simple thing, intentionally small, minor.

blue note:
noun: Music
a minor interval where a major would be expected, used esp. in jazz.

Here is the first one. A Blue Note, is intended to create unity of purpose. It is an invitation to be like water, and in that process become part of a solution that is true.

It is in the short strokes and small choices, where eventually, great change is seeded. In an openly adversarial socio-political system, there is much strength to be gained in the common bond of health, happiness and collaboration. But in order to acquire that, a group must fall in under one banner. A collective must arise that eschews adverarialism, in it’s foundational Philosophy.

Why pick a fight, when there can be no winners? Just cut to the desired end result, and focus on that. In this there is great economic and cultural gain to be made.

A few years back, my friend, George Orbelian, came up with the idea that we ought to form an Ocean Nation. Well, we are running with that idea. Many of us who live in, around or whose lives are otherwise all about the Ocean, have joined together.

You may be surprised at who seeds much of the change. Though the concepts are founded upon a collaborative of people with lives and careers in the Science and Research fields, it is you who will make the difference.

One drop of water is where it starts, and the most grand voyage begins, with one little push.

This will be good. The world needs more of that.

 

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.

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