Manual Magazine

Barber’s Blog: Close Encounters

Posted by markbarber on Thursday May 31 2012

So, you’ve got your Opteka 6.5mm Fish-eye. It’s just arrived from B&H, and you’ve chucked it on the front of your 7D, because of course you film too, and now you’re off down the park to shoot some snaps. You’re thinking how sick it’s gonna be, but when you peep the pics, they all look kinda wack. What the?

You’re not close enough, lad.

You’re not filming, rolling along 4 feet away because your fish-eye is all gross and cropped by the aspect ratio. You’re shooting still frames, so get your hand and face in there sissy! Fish-eye always looks it’s best when it’s in so close that the distortion gets a chance to do it’s thing, but it comes with some risks.

Nikon leading the way as usual.

I count myself among one of the luckier skate photographers out there. I’ve only had my fisheye hit three times. The first time is still crystal clear in my mind. I was at the first Bowl-a-Rama Wellington, and during practice, Lance Mountain tapped my lens.

“Very, very sorry I hit your board with my camera Mr Mountain, Sir. Won’t happen again”.

The honour goes to Sophie Allen for the second time ply touched glass. Bless Sophie, she was quite upset, but after I explained that one of the Bones Brigade had done it previously, it was all good.

I have photographic evidence of the third…


What was I thinking shooting this fish-eye anyway?

So what is the technique to avoid these mishaps? It can’t all be luck you say? Well you’re right. You gotta be quick on the draw. I mean, you’d have to be an idiot to dangle your $10,000 rig out there for every man and his dog to smash into. You’ve gotta anticipate when things are gonna go wrong. You gotta know where you’re gonna move your hand to, to avoid a collision, but mostly you just gotta be quick.

Nico Gottshalk, gap to 5-0

Nico’s gap to 5-0 at that all but impossible spot on Ponsonby Road is a good example of a situation where it could all go wrong. You’ve gotta stick your hand in there, outstretched with the camera, think about where he’s gonna be in the frame, time it right and pull it out before he lands on top of you, or his board whips out into the camera or worse, your face.

Here’s how it looks without the distortion…

That's fine.

Check the footage from Tha Peaks S02E07 to get an even better idea of what I’m talking about, at around 3:20.

Once you’re cocky and over confident like me, you can get up to all sorts of shit and get away with it…

Matthew Wilson, Stobart Ford, Whaanga Coast, NZ WRC 2010

This was probably the most stupid thing I’ve ever done, but it was totally worth it.


  1. cookie says:

    great post as usual, justin barber.

    1. Barber says:

      Thanks Cook’n

  2. Sister Beny says:

     so having long arms is really important?

    1. Barber says:

      Essential. Reflexes of a cat, arms of an orangutan.

      1. stunts says:

        Damn… I have arms of an orangutan, reflexes of an orangutan….

        1. Barber says:

          You’ll never make it Stunts.

    1. Barber says:

      Duly noted.

  3. Corse32 says:


  4. David Read says:

    That Nico 5-0 was the best. Bill Bycroft and I were driving on long P-Road (doing laps as per usual). We stopped at the lights and both look over. Before I could think, “Oh, someone is finally skating that spot”, Nico flys through, flashes go off and he rolls away. What’s even better is that Nico landed it again next try for footage.

  5. Puffro Morice says:

    Holy FUCK! That Rally shot is better than anything you will ever do for skateboarding, Barber. So Hectoss! 

    Pitty about the sponsors though. Did monster pay you a million dollers for that photo?