Extreme Photography – Don’t try this at home!

4 05 2009

Last week I looked at the weather forecast for the next day and it said “big seas and possible early morning thunderstorms”. I thought that this was exactly the sort of weather that I wanted for a photo that I had in mind of Devils Cauldron. I wanted some drama in my shot… and boy did I get it!!!


Now normally I would call it a bad day if I got splashed or hit by a wave while I was shooting…. well this day I got hit by not one wave, but four of them. And I happened to have my little Panasonic Lumix camera rolling each time.

Now to understand how I videoed this, for the first half I had the Panasonic camera sitting on a Gorillapod on the rock behind me. For the second half of the video, I wrapped the gorillapod around the front leg of my tripod and just left the camera rolling while I was snapping stills on my DSLR.Β  So I hope you enjoy my little bit of sunrise drama that I caught on video.

While I was not in any danger of being swept off the rock shelf out to sea, I was in very real danger of getting my camera gear trashed. While I have all my gear insured for this type of event, it still would not have been much fun. So a word of warning for all buddying seascapers, always be careful on the rocks near the surf. I’m pretty experienced when it comes to shooting seascapes, but this is an example whereΒ  I let the thrill of the shot get to me and over-rule common sense.Β  Luckily none of my equipment was damaged.

My camera bag with spare lenses etc. was left high and dry at my original shooting location

My D700 was protected by an Optech Rainsleeve (pretty good insurance for these type of shooting conditions at US$6

My Panasonic LX3 took a direct hit and got drenched but it kept on working for some unknown reason.

Get the good shots by all means, but stay safe.




43 responses

4 05 2009

Love the finished product! Great video too, you’re nuts πŸ˜›

4 05 2009

Cool vid Brent. Makes me wanna go shoot there even more now. πŸ˜€

And that Rainsleeve sounds like a brilliant idea – no more bodgey shopping bags & rubber bands! Now, where’d I put my credit card…

4 05 2009

Hey Sqlnerd

Yup the Rainsleeves are good when water is flying around… they are a bit flimsy, but then at $6 you can’t really complain.

I also carry with me a Ewa rain cape which is more durable and better when the rain is coming down from above (as opposed to spray flying in all directions… or waves hitting you πŸ˜‰


4 05 2009

Good shots some of those and a nice video to see what was going on.

Mate I gotta say if you got washed off I wouldn’t come to your aid.
If you’re gunna go down there in those conditions then you are on your own and it’s not something I’d encourage others to do.
It only takes one rouge wave or a slip and your in the drink, I thought only rock fisherman did crazy things.

4 05 2009

Hey Chas

To be honest, it looks worse than it really was. I was not in any danger of being washed off the rocks. I am extremely careful about that as I see too many rock fisherman doing crazy stuff.

Getting a wet camera is the worst that is likely to happen to me.

I’ve been shooting on the rocks for many years and certainly know the risks (and the ocean).

Regarding rogue waves…. there aren’t really rogue waves…. When you spend a lot of time on the water and you chat to rock fisherman a lot, the experienced ones all say the same thing… rogue waves are pretty predictable… you have normal waves….. large sets (about ever 5 mins) and then extra large sets that come about once every 40min)…. these last ones are what people refer to as “rogue waves”.


4 05 2009
Shutter Abuse

Hey Brent,

Good Vid mate. I can see why you call it the Devils Cauldron… pretty intense.

Your shots were worth the effort, but I’ll just keep taking small steps before I take my baby out there!

Take it easy.


4 05 2009

Rob I hear what you are saying.

The last fisherman to get washed off rocks said the exact same thing just before he dissappeared.

Keep up the good shots ….just be careful.

5 05 2009

Great vid Brent, had me on the edge of my seat.

5 05 2009


You really are one mad guy!
Seriously though, not many people would go through that just to get a pic, so credit to ya but make sure you keep safe… we want more!!


5 05 2009
Brent Pearson

Hey Steve

Thanks… don’t worry I DO ensure that I’m safe when photographing out on the rocks. I do take a few risks of being splashed etc. but I don’t risk my physical safety.

Having said that I’m thinking of dusting off my abseiling gear and abseiling down a cliff to what looks like a pretty cool location…. πŸ˜‰


5 05 2009

Hi Brent,

Great video and beautiful shot =) Very impressive! I was just curious what settings you shot with (i’m not sure if you mentioned this in the video as my vol is a bit messed up), and/or what filters you used. Great stuff…looking forward to seeing more.


5 05 2009

I love your work in the blog you say that have insurance for your camera gear who is the issuer of the insurance, It sounds like something that would come in handy for my self.

5 05 2009

Hey Becky

This shot was taken using the following settings

shutter= 1sec
Aperture = f8

I hope this helps


5 05 2009

Hey Justin

I have put my camera gear on my home contents insurance (which is with AAMI). I have checked and it definitely covers water damage from waves etc.

I only had to specify my D700 body and my two really expensive lenses, all my other lenses and bits and pieces receive coverage but don’t need to be itemised. It raised my premium a bit, but it is worth it for the peace of mind.

As you can see, I do like to get close to the water when shooting, and I often get wet from the waist down. I’ve had plenty of camera splashes, but thankfully Nikon pro bodies are very well sealed. However I’m sure it is only a matter of time before I have an accident ans submerge my camera totally.


6 05 2009

Nice stuff and I love the video to see the REAL action. I have to agree with Chas , I think you are putting yourself in a bit of a spot there, you even said in the video that you were washed off your feet. It also looked like there was no real quick way out but up. Chas summed it up I think with his comment about the last fisherman to be washed off rocks. Anyway a very interesting video, thanks for posting.

As a side note I have all my gear insured as well and I can’t believe that anyone wouldn’t insure it. The price of a couple of camera’s and a few lenses usually adds up to almost the price of a small car and I’ve already had one camera replaced under insurance.

7 05 2009

Thanks for the comment Merv

Yes, I do agree with you…. while I wasn’t in danger of being washed off the rocks, the situation definitely got out of hand pretty quickly.

I was lucky not lose any gear in the event.

I think it’s easy to get a bit cocky and let your guard down sometimes… an event like this sure brings back the respect and caution of the ocean.


7 05 2009

mate, we are not going to do that when I see you later this month!! Very entertaining. You seem to have got some of your dads bravado! I remember the shot of him in a similar situation. Get some pics in ASP before you kill yourself!! πŸ™‚

8 05 2009
Brent Pearson

Hey Christian…. do you mean bravado or stupidity? Whatever you call it, yes I think it runs in the family.

I’ll get to work on the ASP this weekend.

No, I won’t get you washed off a rock shelf when we shoot later this month… promise!


8 05 2009
Lee Duguid

That’s pretty much what happen to me at Freshwater Reserve the other month. Luckily I hadn’t got my camera out of my backpack yet. I got hit by two waves both knocking me over, ripping my trousers, and drowning my iPhone (that hurt the pocket). Oh yeah it was 1am and no-one knew I was there.

The things we do for our passion!


13 05 2009
Christopher Chan

Thanks for sharing the behind the scenes video ! Amazing and scary ! Good thing you got back safely. Love your work !



14 05 2009

Great vid Brent, your a nutter, that wave was scary from where I was even watching. God to see your wordpressing now …. Looking forward to August πŸ™‚

17 05 2009
Canyon X.. A New discovery… a first ascent… a virgin site! « Brent Pearson’s Photo Journey

[…] Devils Cauldron was a bit like that for me… I hadn’t seen any photos of this gorgeous rock formation. […]

19 05 2009
Craig Chiswell

Extreme Photography, the next Olympic sport!!!! Awesome adventure and thanks for sharing, can’t wait to read some of your other adventures and tutes, and the book actually, which I bought and haven’t had a chance to read.

Inspiring photography mate

19 05 2009
Mike Hodgson

I had to watch the vid again! After last weekend I have a better feel for what your dunking experience was like. I didn’t get knocked off my feet but I did get a head-to-toer (as did my camera) in pretty much exactly the same spot as you were. The spare t-shirt I left in the car came in handy. Next time I go I’ll have to take a spare pair of shorts too!

Johnno wants to go again, as do I. Just have to plan the next shoot (and process some of the shots from last weekend).


PS. Hey, nice to meet you & your dad too. πŸ™‚
PPS. Did you find the track down on the other side? I looked up the walking track to Careel lookout in the street directory, and drove around to find both ends of it, but being barefoot after my dunking I didn’t feel like walking it.
PPPS. This is as far as I got when I was scouting the area on Sat arvo. Big, impassable cleft there.

19 05 2009
Brent Pearson


It was nice to meet you on Sunday at Devils Cauldron. I have a feeling that despite the video warning, Devils Cauldron will get it’s fair share of photographers wet.

Not sure if you guys have seen the swell forecast for Saturday, but in the words of my teenage sons… it’s sick, wicked mad! 15 feet swells forecast if you can believe Magic Seaweed.

I think I might definitely have to go out and do some big wave shots… maybe Devils Cauldron, maybe Canyon X.


19 05 2009

Fabulous video! I really enjoyed it – thanks!

23 05 2009
Beau Mitchell

Entertaining video, Brent. You are certainly one dedicated photographer!

23 05 2009

Heh heh… nice one, Brent! Good to see who I’ve been talking to all this while, also. My D300 got knocked over by a similar wave that soaked me head to toe – I only just managed to reach the camera and grab it before it hit the ground. It was totally drenched, so I took it back to the car and dumped a half liter of fresh water on it to get the salt off. Never missed a beat, and that was over a year ago!

25 05 2009

thanks for listing your ewa rain cape. My wife mention EWA Marine Bags but I must of not heard her mention the capes. Some where I read that you use a D700, if this is true I would be interested in knowing which size ewa rain cape it is as I own a D300. Thanks, and keep up the good work.

25 05 2009

I met Oat at Nth Curl Curl on Sat morning, didn’t it put on a performance. Waves breaking with enough force to send spray over the top. Very WOW. Hope you had some luck.

10 07 2009
Tim Parkin

I think people don’t realise that it only takes less than a foot of water (about half way to your knee) before fast water *will* knock you off your feet.. I’m not saying you weren’t safe but other people seem to think you can stand up nearly knee deep in flowing water not realising that four or five inches can easily take your feet out..

Do you use studded shoes? I’ve just bought a pair of Korkers for working on Yorkshire’s slate coastline and they work a treat..

11 07 2009
Brent Pearson

Hey Tim
No I don’t use studded shoes or cleats. Unlike rock fishermen, normally I’m not getting anywhere near water where I expect it to be running much deeper than ankle deep.

I have some great shoes that provide grip, but they don’t have a metal base.


2 10 2009

Great video!!! Wish you didn’t use that song, it just doesn’t go with all the beauty I see in your images and was too distracting. Loved watching this otherwise.

31 10 2009


You wont like what I have to say here but I do not pull any punches having spent the better part of 30 years around the ocean and on it.
You say you were not in real danger, WRONG!
You went down in the dark not having observed the sea conditions for at least 20 mins to determine how active the swell and sets were.
The reaon you got knocked down was because you turned your back on the water, that was the most stupid thing you did.
In fact if there had been a bigger wave that hit you while you were down you probably would have gone in or at least been seriously injured as you were dragged across the rocks.
You did not have a floatation device in case you did get washed off your 3rd stupid mistake.
You did not wear bright clothes in case you got washed off so you could be seen.
You mate are a danger to yoursefl and worse still the rescue people who may have to save your stupid butt the next time you make the same mistakes.
I suggest you go and talk to a fishing shop crew or get some decent advice from someone who knows what they are doing.
Oh last stupid mistake and the second worst, you went ALONE.

23 05 2010

After my dramatic incident at Kiama last weekend and my increased sense of awareness and respect for the ocean, I decided to watch this video again, and share it with others in a forum post I wrote about seascaping safety.

I’m not sure if it’s publicly visible, but in case it is, here it is:


(Happy to cross-post if it’s not visible.)

Your video really does show how powerful the ocean can be, and while these waves and splashes were quite large, it’s nothing compared to what the ocean can do; I’ve personally seen and been in the thick of far worse.

Take extreme care, mate. You and I have both taken some silly risks at times, and it doesn’t take much to turn a fun and exciting shoot into a nightmare.

25 06 2010
Tips for Safe Seascape Photography | Xenedis's Photographic Experiences

[…] may like to view Brent Pearson’s video on extreme seascape photography at Devil’s Cauldron to see how dangerous the ocean can be, and how suddenly it can lash out. Possibly related posts: […]

20 08 2010
don goldney

brilliant stuff, feel free to invite me along some time,
cheers don

18 09 2010

Whoa, I’ve been looking at your seascapes and I’m totally in awe. I even started thinking about getting a cokin setup and trying it myself. Hmm, having major second thoughts now lol. Great work Brent and thanks so much for sharing.

21 09 2010
Leanne Doroszuk

OMG! That location is awesome, great photo and very scary wave action!

9 05 2011
Cool Rock images | Amazing Videos

[…] While I wanted drama, I got more than I bargained for. I got hit 4 times in total by waves and happened to capture it all on my video camera that was rolling at the time. So if you want to watch the short video of me being pounded by waves, head over to my blog. […]

17 06 2011
John Armytage

Thanks for the Video Brent.. I am heading out there tomorrow morning..

18 06 2011
John Armytage

Amazing location will be back – I agree with you – The most important thing at this location is preparing to keep your gear dry.

23 12 2011
Warum benutze ich Verlaufsfilter? | KWERFELDEIN | Fotografie Magazin

[…] Ostküste Australiens gibt es ähnlich spektakuläre Küsten und Brent Pearson hat ein unterhaltsames Video davon gemacht, wie er dort […]

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