A Precarious Position

A glimpse of magic. Expired before I could even take it in, with only my expectations and hopes left trying to create a memory. A moment of blind action.

Josh Daniel - Hanging 10, backwards on his Slide65 Longboard. South Coast Sri Lanka, October 2016.

Excited and relieved, I had just surfaced after diving through the back of this small wave. Josh's board bounced to the surface a few feet from where I know swum, Josh further towards the shore. His state the same as mine. We both knew how close that was to being a disaster. Having both surfaced unscathed, the only question left was, did I get the shot. My memories of the moment are only made up of what I assume and hope I did, the actual moment was all spontaneous. Automatic actions.

To rewind a minute, I was stood up to my waist in the shorebreak of a small peeling right hand wave. It broke off the rocks surrounding a small island just off the south coast of Sri Lanka. The water was warm and a mix of tan brown and light blue/green. I was holding my Nikons-V waterproof film camera. I had a shot in mind in which Josh would be standing backwards, noseriding his longboard across the wave. I set my camera to focus a distance of 1.5-3metres. With all settings on the camera ready, I just had to wait for Josh to find himself on the right wave, make his way into position, and then hope that I was stood at the right point of the wave to find him noseriding 1.5-3metres in front of me. Oh and leave myself enough time to compose the shot, take it, and be out of his way before he came shooting through me.

And so everything we wanted to lined up for us. And hence, my precarious position. Taking the shot, then diving through the back of the way as Josh shot past me on his longboard, trying not to loose the back of my scalp to his long singlefin. This was the only position that would allow the shot. When I finally got the film developed 2 weeks later, I was exstatic to find the shot was more or less what I hoped for. It's not perfect, and I can't wait to catch up with Josh at some far flung surf beach one day in the future and try again. But for now, it has paid off.

Sometimes a precarious position is the only place that will allow a glimpse into a magical moment. The combination of elements which are all required, to produce magic.

The scarcity of a moment, is what creates it's captivation with the viewer. Seeing a moment rarely seen, too awkward to observe rationally. We feel like we've been let in on a secret viewing. An extra in a movie we hadn't auditioned for. We have the great ability to put ourselves in the position of others, and therefore, feel present. The greatest images can give us a shudder of nerves, or flurry of adrenaline. The body reacting to what the mind is envisioning. A moment experienced. And shared.

I'm not sure if this post was more inspired by the David Bowie I'm currently listening to, or the 'Barbarian Days' book I just finished. Maybe it's a combination of both. For me, they both capture magic, from a different, precarious point of view. Elegantly relayed for the rest of us.

If you'refan of reading & surfing, I highly recommend the book 'Barbarian Days' by William Finnegan.