Ed Sloane has been taking pictures of the Southern Ocean since he was able to walk, he just didn’t know it until he turned 25. With a professional background in environmental science the past five years has seen him monitoring the rivers and catchments surrounding the iconic Great Ocean Road, Bells Beach and beyond. The many hours spent working in the Victorian rainforest and coastal hinterlands sparked an interest in photography that quickly led to a union with the surf and it was at this juncture he dived in. His quickly growing body of work portrays an honest picture of the Victorian coastline and those that frequent the icy southern ocean at its doorstep. But after three weeks shooting in the desert of WA, working on ‘The Reef’ and collaborative performance piece initiated by the ACO and Tura New Music his body of work is looking distinctly sunnier. Director, Mick Sowry (Musica Surfica, 2007) asked Ed to be the stills photographer and Co-second Unit Camera Operator on the project after Ed expressed interest on the surf one day. Check out more of his work here Surfer Taylor Miller was the subject of many of Ed’s beautiful images from The Reef. This is her story. Morning, 6.30 am … light travels grey to blue, under the sea. It’s broody. The shoot, Jon Frank with camera in tow and under the direction of Mick Sowry, derived from one of Mick’s scrapbook sketches. The theme being human fragility overcome amidst raw deep ocean – a landscape challenging to most men, yet one to be reckoned with. Simply put, our experience is but a brief human engagement with the world. Welcome to THE REEF, a musical and surfing cross-pollination. Art creation. Experiment. Upon teaching surfing, I ask students to imagine the physics of the wave as a centrifugal cylinder, its propulsion is to be matched by ones entry speed, or to be contended with upon approach. The wave’s motion, what Jack London calls ‘communicated agitation’ … ‘the send of the sea’ is a force of energy that once understood can be mastered … to a certain extent. Calmness in the ocean’s embrace accumulates with experience and here begins an addictive attraction. The picture above made it to the cover of Spectrum Sydney Morning Herald on June 9th.
It was this photo that should have been on the cover of Spectrum instead – finless, as was the purpose of The Reef. Far Field Free Friction surfing ( a kind of surfing without fins in the board, christened by its master Derek Hynd as FFFF) is the Jazz of music, multi directional and against linear grain. A life philosophy as much as principal in surfing and music. Without fins the art of the duck- dive is simplified as the board skids underwater.
Interesting how the wave naturally sweeps your body back – flesh, breath, hair, legs, toes, fingers. The ocean has its way of smoothly caressing and sweeping your everything into a streamline. Weightless, free. Surfers tend to reflect on the suspension in time, the ‘still point’, when wave-riding. The sensation is as much physical as it is emotional.
There’s another still point, albeit a brief one, following the surge of the wave and when you dive under it, the two opposing forces, wave and human, meet and lock. Whatever position your body, it remains hovering.
The surfer in this photo is responsible for both its beauty and destruction – he’s falling off the wave, the sun at his side. It looks like a composed shot however far from it, momentary circumstance.
Water. Light. Camera. Its like flour, egg and sugar … so many combinations. I guess this shot came out like a finely made cake, delicious. Being a surfer is not solely about waveriding but evokes an appreciation for water in all manifestations. Reminds me of L’appassionata della acqua, a collaborative work by She Hawke and Leonie Jackson (Kurungabaa Journal no 2, Vol 2). I love the sea flat and still as much as when it is thunderous and heaving. Standing in the rain is as sweet as being dusted by sea spray off the back of a wave when paddling out to the lineup.