Ep 186: What lengths would you go to for the perfect shot with special guest Russell Ord

There’s something magical, awe-inspiring and death-defying about surf photography. So we’re talking to surf photographer Russell Ord, featured in the book The Best of the Best: Australia’s Greatest Surf Photographers. We also have three copies of the book to giveaway. So listen up!

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Show notes

Enter the competition from 12 to 19 February 2018

The Best of the Best: Australia’s Greatest Surf Photographers

A beautifully designed, full-colour collection of the best Australian surfing photographers and their award-winning work.

From the drama of Shipsterns to the cyclonic fury of an east coast low; sunrise at Cloudbreak and rainbows at Teahupo’o, this is an awe-inspiring collection of award-winning photographs showcasing all the energy, beauty and drama of the ocean. It reveals surfers like Gilmore, Florence, Fanning and Slater in their element and the power of a moment caught in time.

Featuring the winners and finalists of the Nikon/Surfing Australia Surf Photo of the Year Award from 2013 to 2017 … these are the best of the best.

Enter at: writerscentre.com.au/win

Listener Question

Bill asks:
Looking for recommends please. I’m in the market for 2 x lighting stands to hold my Nikon speed lights. I’ll be taking them out for wedding and family shoots so need to be sturdy, reliable and yet easy to transport around. Thanks.

The full answer from Gina is in the episode:

Tripods and Light Stands: buy once, buy well.

The problem with cheap light stands and cheap tripods is they are unstable and break really easily. I know because I have about 5 cheap stands piled on top of my Ab cruncher pro that have all fallen apart and are now useless.

Poorly made and cheap light stands are difficult and frustrating to use and can be downright dangerous. It does not make any sense to me to place a light worth hundreds or thousands of dollars on a ten dollar lightstand.

I prefer my models are lit from above and slightly to the side so I place my portable lights on the following set ups

The extendable pole on a voice activated stand

Using and assistant is the best way to get the light exactly where I want it. The people that work with me now are amazing and ways manage to tilt the light in exactly the right spot. This is my prefered technique for lighting setups on the go like lifestyle shoots, location fashion shoots and weddings

There are many options available. I use a Lastolite LL LS2400 24cm-48cm Ezybox Hotshoe Extension Handle

Single light on a stand
I have a variety of light stands that vary in size and weight. The majority are manfrotto
which start at around $80-$100.

There are plenty of stands available for under $15 but buyer beware and make space next to you Ab Cruncher pro

LumoPro LP605 which I’ve owned for a couple of years and is perfect for speedlights. The other thing I like about it is that it folds down very small.

The C Stand Or boom stand
If I’m working on my own or want the light to remain static I use a c stand or boom setup.
The C stand is a piece of equipment used first on film sets the term “C” stand came about because they were mostly used to hold up sun reflectors that were 100 inches wide. The reflectors were called centuries and the stands became known as century stands or C stands.

A C stand or boom allows me to position the light above my model without the stand getting in the way of the shot.

I think a c stand is a really good investment. They are also very heavy and solidly built so not ideal for location shoots that involve a lot of moving around. I mostly use C stands and booms on single location shoots where I know I won’t be moving around.

I use an Avenger A2033FCBKIT Steel 40-Inch Century Stand Grip Kit (Black) approx $200

MacGyver Boom
There have been several occasions where I’ve forgotten my boom and really needed one so I MacGyvered my own by joining two light stands together using a superclamp.
It’s not the prettiest looking lightstand but did the trick in a pinch.

We chat to Russell Ord

Above: Russell Ord

From Rugby League player and Fireman to award-winning Ocean and Lifestyle photographer, Russell Ord found his passion through adventure and the discovery of the untouched/unseen wilderness.

Based in Waipu Cove NZ, Russell’s photos blend the environment with real-life storytelling, his work has been published in magazines and books throughout the world, was awarded the 2016 IPA International Sports Photographer Of the Year at the prestigious Lucie Awards and exhibited in Germany at Photokina 2016 and Tokyo Japan 2017 for FujiFilm.

His life and work has been the subject of the documentary “One Shot” which was broadcasted nationally by the ABC in a seven-part art series and internationally through Film festivals and Garage Entertainment. (www.oneshotdoco.com)

“It’s more than just moments in time, it’s about the connection with people and the environment, creating content that reflects this very essence” – Russell Ord.

Watch one shot via vimeo https://vimeo.com/ondemand/oneshotdoco/218625660

Russell’s Social Media links

Website: http://www.russellordphoto.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/russellordphoto/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/russellordphoto/

Products/workshops: https://vagabondphotographic.com/collections/workshops

Topics covered

  • How Russell got started in photography after a knee injury
  • Learning to shoot through trial and error
  • The dangers he faced shooting big wave surf contests
  • Getting his first magazine double page spread
  • What Russell did to stand out from the competition
  • How he managed to get the ultimate surf shop
  • The best gear for surf photography
  • The special trick Russell uses to avoid water spots on his images
  • Pre focus vs auto focus
  • Best aperture to nail the shot
  • Surf photography etiquette


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Gina Milicia is one of the most widely known and respected photographers in Australia. She is the master of capturing that ‘magical moment’... READ MORE