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PHOTOS: Staring Down the Barrel of a Wave

Get a surfer's eye view of life on the water


Have you ever stared down a barrel? If so, you've got guts—because whether that barrel was your girlfriend's dad's shotgun or a monster tubing wave, the one thing that's for certain is that both have enough power to take you out. But photographer Chris Burkard is a pro at harnessing the energy of the water and capturing its beauty—allowing landlubbers and surfing pros alike to get lost in the beauty of the waves, risk free. We asked him a few questions about getting the perfect shot, and then snagged a few of his best photos for a killer slideshow. Enjoy.

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What’s the most challenging part of capturing the inside of a wave?
Getting a barrel shot requires the ability to position yourself at a critical moment of the wave. Really understanding the movement of the ocean and the break you are shooting. Getting a barrel shot that really stands out sometimes depends on luck, but really it is lighting that will make a great barrel shot. I have great barrel shots from 2 foot waves to double overhead waves, but the ones that really turn into great images all have beautiful morning or evening light. 

What makes the perfect inner barrel photo?
The perfect barrel shot, I think, combines the beauty of the wave and the natural elements with a unique location or angle that really makes the viewer feel as if he or she is there. The perfect barrel shot really comes both from the uniqueness of the photo and what’s happening other than the barrel—whether it’s something outside of the wave or something directly in front of them. 

Do you ever get pummeled by the waves or bashed by a surfer when you’re out shooting?
There is definitely the risk of both the wave and the surfer while shooting out in the water. I think the worst injury I have had shooting in the water was splitting my nose open while shooting. My housing hit me in the face and put a huge gash in my nose. Needless to say it put a damper on shooting for the rest of the day.

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Pro kayaker Steve Fisher does some 3-D filming in the rivers of northern Minnesota. Courtesy Red Bull

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