Adventure Photography: About the Shot – Surfing Buchupero, Chile

Surfing-475

Photograph by Chris Burkard, Red Bull Illume

Which photo is your favorite from this year's collection of Red Bull Illume adventure photo contest winners? Here's one of ours from the "Illumination" category. Click through to see the photo gallery >>

About the Shot

It was a last-minute decision to go to Chile. We sat in the pouring rain for days and days waiting for the swell to come. We thought we had planned it perfectly, but you can still get a winter storm in the fall.

We woke up the morning after the rains to howling offshore winds. The swell was pulsing and the conditions were as good as they get. We drove to a spot in the afternoon that the locals had said, “rarely breaks.” When we pulled up it was reeling left barrels for almost a football field’s length. We scrambled to get out and surf. i was sunburnt and tired and had no idea how to document this moment. The waves were some of the most I had ever seen, so I decided to risk it. I sprinted down the beach and hiked up a sand dune to get a pulled back perspective.

The shore break was so big, and the offshores’ plumes so high, that I was missing most of the best waves, but finally a set came through. The light, the wind, and the swell were perfect. It was as if everything in nature fell into perfect harmony for this single moment. As Peter Mendia eased into this wave, the backwash hit, sending a golden shower of water ten feet above his head, and sending him down the line of another 20-second barrel. —Photographer Chris Burkard

Comments

  1. Dave
    October 28, 2010, 4:53 pm

    This is the kind of thing that I love about National Geographic. The photos are amazing. In this one picture you have captured the awe inspiring power and beauty of nature, and with the additional element of capturing the surfer in the image, you have given us a glimpse of a whole different side of life. Thanks

  2. SomeGoodAdventure
    October 29, 2010, 4:15 am

    I loved this photo the first time I saw it in the Illume contest. Nice work Chris.

  3. C.D. @ LuxuryTravelClub
    October 31, 2010, 7:30 pm

    Ok, you really got me!! When I originally seen this I thought it was a painting…it was just so surreal and beautiful. Now that I know it’s a pic, it’s just sooo amazing how the light is reflected off of the waves and the surfer. Gorgeous!!!

  4. Donna
    October 31, 2010, 8:21 pm

    Love the photo. Would also love to see a cropped close up of surfer.

  5. Nathan Welton Photography
    November 5, 2010, 1:25 pm

    Absolutely fantastic image. Good job, Chris.

  6. Burkard Photo
    November 21, 2010, 3:21 am

    To check out more of my work please visit http://www.burkardphoto.com

  7. Travel Chile
    February 23, 2011, 7:17 am

    wow!!! amazing photo, really captures the moment

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  10. Go Chile
    May 8, 2011, 8:51 pm

    What great pictures, we invite you to know chile!

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  13. Boracay Resorts
    July 28, 2011, 11:15 pm

    The photograph by Chris Burkard is the clear winner in my books. The back light in the shot is amazing, especially behind the wave outlining the surfer silhouette.

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    I was just so amazed on how you capture that photo above…and it makes me wonder if it’s real or what….?hmmm

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    So Chile offers the best surfing destination in South America…This is cool. I have been visiting that country for years yet I fail to experience such extreme adventure.

  16. Tutoring Sydney
    August 4, 2011, 4:54 am

    If you are a fan of California, you need to get Burkard’s book – The California Surf Project. It chronicles a trip from the northern Oregon/California border all the way down to our neck of the woods and the legendary Tijuana Sloughs….He’s more than just a photographer…

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    That’s a nice shot!I’ve seen a lot of pictures taken by some professional photographers but this photo is really different. I mean, I can see the real creativeness of someone who took it. Actually, its like am oil painting at first glance. I never thought that its a real photo. Well, the person who took this picture is really talented and passionate with what he is doing. I’m looking forward to see more of his pictures in this site.

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    December 16, 2011, 8:12 pm

    and with the additional element of capturing the surfer in the image, you have given us a glimpse of a whole different side of life. Thanks

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    December 16, 2011, 8:13 pm

    and with the additional element of capturing the surfer in the image, you have given us a glimpse of a whole different side of life. Thanks