Mikala Jones Board Cam on Surfers Journal

I ended up on The Surfer’s Journal website the other day, after listening to the excellent interview with Steve Pezman on the Surf Splendor podcast.

The first thumbnail that caught my eye features Mikala Jones and accompanies this article:

http://www.surfersjournal.com/mikala-jones-bali-1

Photo by Mikala Jones, via The Surfers Journal
Photo by Mikala Jones, via The Surfers Journal

You’ve probably seen Mikala Jones‘ self shot GoPro videos, and the article talks about his philosophy of producing his own content and protecting the waves he surfs from over exposure, I think he’s spot on with everything he says and with this short article he’s instantly been bumped onto my favourite surfer/film maker list alongside George Greenough and Scott Carter.

What you might not realise is that the shot above is captured with a Canon 7D and Tokina 10-17mm fisheye, not a GoPro, what gave it away for me was the cable you can see off the outside rail of his board, it’s taped down towards the tail with some slack at the front to allow him to paddle and release the shutter.

Of course with that clue I dug deeper and the exif data then revealed all, at first I thought the shutter speed was a bit slow because it was a GoPro shot, as I explained in the first part of my GoPro Hero 3+ review you don’t get the control over shutter speed with the GoPro like you do with a DSLR, so it often opts to slow down the shutter speed in low light situations like this dark tube, or like a recent evening session just after sun set when I took this photo:

Evening shot from the GoPro Hero 3+ camera in 30 shot per second burst mode, ISO 100, 2.77mm f2.8, 1/150
Evening shot from the GoPro Hero 3+ camera in 30 shot per second burst mode, ISO 100, 2.77mm f2.8, 1/150

In Mikala’s shot the camera was set up in manual exposure mode, shutter speed of 1/160th, aperture of f11 and an ISO of 400, I think if I were trying a similar set-up (and had the skill he has to surf big Indo barrels whilst releasing the shutter of a camera) I would open up the aperture to f5.6, allowing me to shoot at a faster shutter speed of 1/1000 and get the same exposure.

I’ve got the same Tokina Fisheye and as long as the focus is set manually to a metre or so away at f5.6 everything that needs to be will be sharp, as long as the shutter speed is fast enough to freeze the waves movement, generally you need a speed of 1/1000th of a second or faster to do this.

The other option is to go for a slower shutter speed for a more arty blurry effect, after doing some experimenting myself I personally like 1/80th for blurring the wave enough but not too much, and at this speed I think the rider would remain fairly crisp too as they’re relatively still within the frame.

I’m hoping to try out a board cam rig of my own this weekend, if it works OK I’ll put up a post about it as I think it’s an amazing angle, I love this shot and I encourage you to read the interview, watch some videos of Mikala and then go and shoot some photo’s inspired by his creativity.

Edit: Philippe from Liquid Eye housings has added some extra details, the shot above by Mikala Jones was shot using the Liquid Eye C1900 housing, a sub $1000 lightweight housing that can accommodate many different camera bodies and lens combo’s.

There’s an album on the Liquid Eye facebook page which shows some more photo’s from the set-up and includes this photo of the rig itself attached to the tail of the board: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=190480987673160&set=a.190480794339846.58985.178445028876756&type=3&theater

Now imagine paddling into a wave and getting barrelled with that on your board, for me it’s the imagination, vision and preparation that goes into capturing this type of shot as much as the skill required to get into the right position to make the most of it that sets it apart from the majority of surf photo’s.