“You just go home, plug your GoPro in and pray that you managed to get that shot you think was the one,” we are told by Brad “Mongoose” Mommsen. Lately the KZN South Coast local has been grafting on a charter boat in Fiji, but it was back home months earlier where he started refining his GoPro selfie technique in order to capture the perfect cover shot for our GoPro Cover Me competition.
Mongoose sets his line and, more importantly, his angle for a stand-up pit.
As a new enthusiast, Mongoose has experienced his fair share of fun – with an even fairer share of frustration – as he begins to blow clean the ripples that inevitably appear when getting into this new photographic addiction.
“I’ve come to realize that getting the shot is not as easy as it looks,” explains Mongoose. “Honestly, when the waves are cooking the last thing you want is to hassle with extra equipment you normally wouldn’t have on you. Positioning is always key, especially if you’re setting up for a pit. It’s tricky because you’re trying to get these shots like selfies in the barrel, so I find that you have to adjust your style to accommodate for the camera you’re waving around in front of you.
“The nice thing about a GoPro is that sometimes you can get an epic shot even when you’re not trying to. A simple bottom turn, while not even worrying about where the camera is pointing, surprises you when you get back home to find a cracker of a shot that fits well with the lighting. That’s what I find fun about this whole GoPro thing. There’s room to experiment and anyone with half a brain can use them. It just takes some imagination and a few good ideas to take it that one step further and develop your own unique approach.”
A relaxed bottom turn with some good back light provides a successful ‘hit and hope’ snap.
“Don’t get me wrong though, I’ve had a few amazing surf sessions where I got spat out of barrels all day long yet got home with 9000 images to sort through, with no keepers. That is what drives me nuts. Nothing’s guaranteed! When it turns out to be a sequence of the wall, your shoulder or your big toe…you want to cry, bru. It can make you super stoked or bum you out completely.
“I bought myself a ‘lang-arm’ pole mount from the Kodak shop in Durban North. But pole mounts are super easy to make. Just Youtube “GoPro pole mounts” and there’s 100’s of videos showing you how to make one. One piece of conduit pipe, one-two glue and screw and Bob’s your uncle. It can be a freaking mission though. I’ve had to wrap duct tape around the middle and bite on the bar while paddling into a wave. Try biting a hard bar for two hours!”
Mongoose, giving his teeth a much needed rest.
“Lately I’ve been really interested in a board-mount coming out from the tail. It’s trial and error at the moment because there are so many things you have to consider like : weight, balance, distance, angle and strength. These are just the first things. To get the shot I can picture myself getting in my head requires a little more than plastic poles and screws. The friend who helped me build my first tail mount could possibly work with me on a new design, with the adjustments checking all the boxes on what was wrong with the last one.
“When I made my first tail mount one or two owes said no chance, won’t work. But I got a six second full stand-up pit and had the camera been ten centimeters further back, the range would have been perfect and I reckon it might have been the one (laughs). Unfortunately, it chopped my head off in the picture (see below), which kind of ruined its chances.
“The tail mount is by far my favorite at the moment. It was out of the way and didn’t hinder my riding as much as the pole did. The stand up barrel shot I got was on an 8-foot day. The others were 5 to 6-foot days. Nice size, but I want to try get a really big pit with a tail mount. That’s my goal.”
If his GoPro was just 10cm further back, Mongoose reckons this could have been “the one”.
“I’ve had to shoot mostly between sunrise and midday to score the best wave conditions, due to the early offshore that prevails during winter. The only fall back is that you end up shooting out of the barrel and straight into the light, which isn’t always ideal. But swing the camera around with the light behind it and the whole image bursts with an array of blues and greens shining around you.
“I work most of the time on the yacht, but we have a breather coming up soon where I might get to surf a bit more. Cloudbreak and Restaurants are around the corner and I’m looking forward to scoring at least one big, clean day. Hopefully I’ll be standing in one of those epic pits with a GoPro. Will keep you posted…”
An outstretched pole behind the board can give a great POV of the lip and surfer.
We want to see YOU on the front cover of Zigzag. Our GoPro Cover Me competition gives everyone a chance of scoring the coveted page 1. Click here to find out more.