Fury - Behind the Shot

Earlier this week, I was conducting my usual readings of WillyWeather's tide and swell charts for the coming days. As is scrolled towards the end of the week and noticed a huge spike in swell, 6+ metres (20 feet), I knew exactly the shot I wanted to capture to record this freak swell.

I've shot Bombo during big seas in the past (4-5 metres), but nothing compared to what was predicted. It's not the safest place to shoot on a good day, so I knew exactly what I was risking going in. Waves often crash over these massive basalt columns, even during average swell - how could I resist capturing it at it's most brutal?

It was a pretty late start heading down to Kiama for sunrise. The alarm sounded at 4:55AM and I was out the door by 5:10AM - easily the best thing about winter! This gave me plenty of time to take it slow on the roads as we'd just reached the peak of one of the worst rain storms NSW had seen in a long time. In hindsight, I really shouldn't have been driving at all, but this photo I had pictured in my mind needed to become a reality.

As I arrived in Kiama, I looked out the car window towards the ocean - I'd honestly never seen anything like it. It was like a scene from Perfect Storm. There are no words to describe the concern I'd had for my safety at the time, but that didn't stop me from leaving the car and making the walk down to the old quarry. Normally, this is a nice easy walk - not this time. With winds reaching what felt like well over 80km/h and the torrential rain beating down on my face and hands, like tiny ice needles, made the short walk seem much, much longer.

As I approached the stairs that lead down to the last trail, I discovered that it was completely underwater, but I kept going. Knee deep, with my pants clinging to my legs and shoes filling with water, I carefully waded through the dark and muddy water finally making it to dry ground. Well, dryer ground. At this stage, I could hear the roar of the ocean getting louder and angrier, along with the sound of my own heart beating much faster. In addition to the pelting rain, I could also taste the salt from the crashing waves 30+ metres ahead of me.

Finally, I'd made it to the area I wanted to shoot from. I waited patiently, for about 15 minutes, to see if the exact comp I wanted would be safe. Whilst it did look relatively safe, I was sure I would be drenched by that one freak wave that always takes you by surprise. Sure enough, that's exactly what happened...

This was the image from the exact moment before I was drenched from head to toe. If you look closely, just above the rocks on the very left of the image, you'll notice some streaks. That's the spray from the even bigger wave just out of camera. To give you some scale, the tallest rock you seen in this image, probably stands just over 4 or 5 metres. Whilst that doesn't sound that tall, some of the waves were clearing the top by a good metre or two.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this image as much as I enjoyed capturing it!