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Nature's Best Photography: The view from inside a Hawaiian wave

I’ve seen some underwater movie footage of similar situations, but this is one of the first times I’ve seen this successfully captured as a still image.

Clark Little / Nature's Best Photography

Matching artistic composition with dramatic force, the lip of a wave pushes toward the photographer and creates a large, hollow air pocket called the “tube,” seen running the length of the photo parallel to the sand bottom. Because the wave continues to move forward, even after it breaks, the tube is forced to spin and follow the wave’s momentum. As the tube rotates, water and air are pulled along into this spin cycle. Even for those accustomed to wave photography, some explanation is needed to understand exactly what is going on in this image: A breaking wave is just a few feet in front of the lens. Beyond the wave is the deep ocean. The beach is behind the photographer.

Photographer Clark Little said:
“A half-second after this shot was made; the wave hit me straight on, knocking the camera out of my hand and pulling me into the spinning mass of air and water. I enjoy the power and beauty of the thick bombs that roll through and can usually capture some of those moments without getting slammed. Well, most of the time.”

Photographic information:
Camera: Nikon D3 in a custom underwater housing; 10.5mm fisheye lens; 1/1000 sec at ƒ/8; ISO 200; hand-held.

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