Chasing the shotSurf photographer Trevor Moran explains what it was like to capture Mick Fanning surf in the dark and snow.
Surf photographer Trevor Moran has traveled the Earth over chasing the best waves with the world’s best surfers, but his sojourn to the freezing waters of Norway to shoot three-time world champ Mick Fanning under the Aurora Borealis (aka the Northern Lights) counts as his most harrowing challenge so far.
In fact, it could be argued that Moran’s task to capture cold water surfing by day in Norway was more difficult than the headlining astronomical project - on account of there being no more than fours hours a day of sunlight during the Norwegian winter.
“My role was to do more of the daytime stuff, which in that part of the world is a little harder than it seems - there’s only three to four hours of sunlight, and it’s not direct,” Moran says. “We wanted to document surfing in Norway itself, the waves, the cold water and surfing in these harsh, crazy weather conditions. We touched on the Northern Lights thing, but that was really a separate project.”
And it doesn’t get any tougher than dealing with snow, pouring rain and 70mph winds for a week straight.
“From a photography standpoint it was a real challenge and exceptionally difficult - without direct sunlight it was challenging photographically,” Moran continues.
“We decided in the first few days there after assessing the brutal conditions that we weren’t going to try and get glamourous surf photos with sunny action. We chose to embrace the natural conditions, the gnarly and harsh environment and document it like the far-flung location it is. And on a technical standpoint, that meant a lot of graining photos with high ISOs, and low shutter speeds for speed blurs and stuff like that. The imagery truly represents what we experienced.”
So with the weather, the season and 20 hours of depressing darkness against them, how many waves did Moran and Fanning get?
“We had one three-hour session per day on the few days we surfed because of the light, so it was pretty challenging so far as getting good surf photos - and from a morale standpoint, too,” Moran says with a laugh.
“So there was a lot of pressure in that sense. Per day there were 10-15 good waves from maybe 45 waves in total in three short sessions. So trying to get enough photos, I put a lot of pressure on myself. I knew I had to make really good decisions and not screw around, to have the water housing ready and shoot from the shore in my wetsuit so I could run into the water when I needed to. And it was worth it. It was an awesome experience.”