The story behind the photo

What it takes to shoot big waves.

Nazare Portugal Atlantic Ocean Waves
Nazare Portugal Atlantic Ocean Waves, November 2018

You just need to be in the right place at the right moment.

Some time ago during a meeting with an agency, we talked about photos of big waves and how to produce them. With CGI, “computer generates image” you can create one within a week or two, assuming that you find the right team capable of doing it.

Shooting this kind of waves turned out a bit more complicated. I heard about Nazaré a peaceful, quiet fishing village on the Atlantic coast of Portugal. They have big waves, actually famous for it. Since that day started to follow the weather, tide and wave forecast of Nazaré.
In the winter time you get almost every week 5-7 meter high waves, but very seldom you get 20 meters or move waves. It took me nearly 2 years to get the chance for such a wave.

There is a detail in this photo, who at first sight doesn’t look so obvious.
Look at the spray over the wave. It’s a perfect Fibonacci curve. The natural beauty defined by the mathematical formula which also has a lot in common with the golden ratio.

Here is the tricky question. What does it take to get this spray and big waves?
The wind must come from the opposite side of the wave. 90% of the time the wind pushes the water for miles on the open sea and when the wave comes closer to shore the build up. That’s the difference. The wind is coming from the opposite side.

When I saw that fact in the weather forecast, I knew its time to book the flight to Lissabon and a rental car which brings me to Nazaré. It took two years from that meeting in the agency until the day I booked the trip.

The evening when I finally got to Nazaré in complete darkness I drove down to the lighthouse, no moon no light. Whatever scary movie you imagine, there is nothing so impressive as the rumbling of the waves against the cliffs right below the Nazare Lighthouse.

The next morning with the first light I was back on these rocks, this time with my camera and a full set of lenses.

Please let me say this, as I heard that so many times:
You just need to be in the right place at the right moment.
Think about what it takes to be at the right place and the right moment?

The next morning during breakfast in the hotel, the lady serving the coffee looked at me and said; you got the right day, today the waves are not big anymore.

It’s over a year ago and I still checking every week the forecast of Nazaré, hoping to get one more chance to shoot this kind of big waves.

Nazare Portugal Atlantic Ocean Waves
Nazare Portugal Atlantic Ocean Waves, November 2018