Stu Gibson: Mick Hoult, Tasmania

The Image

Stu Gibson


Time / Date:
January 28, 2013

The Technical

Camera Body: Canon 1D Mark 4
Lens: Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye

Camera Settings:

Shutter Speed: 1/1250s
Aperture: f/5
ISO: 150
Focal Length: 15mm

The Story


I guess I would class myself as a water photographer, sometimes surf, but my images almost all have something to do with water. So, when a massive swell marched towards Tassie, we chose the heaviest wave we could for that swell direction and hit it. The only plan was to swim this rare wave to show how heavy it actually is, when shooting it from a boat you don’t see how close the guys go to the rock slab!

The Scene: 

It was a perfect blue day in Tasmania, which is hard to find — when we have a good swell, its usually raining. Although the swell wasn’t as big as we hoped, the colour made up for it. Some waves were so green and thick it was a water photographers dream.

We had about 5 surfers keen to tackle the slab, and we got out at first light. It was slow so we had to wait patiently for the sets. every 20 mins or so a bomb would come through and catch us out of position. We are on a small island off Tasmania — it’s close to land but has a very real vibe out there.


I shot this image with a Canon 1D Mark 4, Aqautech housing, and fish eye lens — pretty standard water set up. Rather than gear, it was more the wave, surfer position and light that made this image stand out from the rest. I just swam and clicked when things turned ugly.

Making the Shot:

It was definitely an “oh shit” moment — the wave that Mick got was slightly smaller then what we surf at that place, so it broke super close to the rock. In this image, he’s on his backhand which is never a good thing on such a slabby wave. Mick came from super deep behind the rock and almost fell right on it.

I was shooting but also in my mind thinking, “Ah no this isn’t going to end well!” He did this epic recovery lay back thing and swooped straight past the rock — it was so sick until the next section hit him and he tore the ligaments in his ankle. He didn’t surf for 2 months.

Editing & Processing:

Slight crop with horizon tweak, and some contrast and sharpening.

Looking Back:

I love this image because its one of the most critical surf images I’ve ever seen, let alone shot. The surfer is Mick Hoult and he’s a good mate, so we were stoked to be able to get something different to the normal water shot.


The only advice I can give is find a crazy friend that will try this kind of shot, then wait for the perfect day at a heavy slab, practice swimming thick heavy waves as much as possible.

About the Photographer

I was born in Tasmania in 1983 and I became a photographer around 2003, although I’ve always loved cameras and filming. It wasn’t until I borrowed a friends Canon EOS 5 that I fell in love with still photography, the quality amazed me! Shooting on 35mm slide film was a true test to learn the skills to become a photographer.

A fellow Tasmanian and professional photographer Sean Davey was my main inspiration and mentor. He’s always keen to lend a helping hand, which I’m ever so grateful for! I’m still learning so much in the photo world but I’m having so much fun doing it. I truly can’t think of a better job.

My main passions are surfing, snowboarding and skateboarding. But my photos are more than 90% surfing, or in the water in some way. I was practically born surfing so it’s hard to be away from the coast for too long. My life as a photographer consists of traveling, swimming, sun, and sitting behind a computer – a lot!

Instagram: @stugibson

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