Shooting the Sea with Conor Hegyi

Photo: Warren Keelan

Conor Hegyi is a NSW based videographer who is making waves on Instagram. Combining his passion for the ocean with capturing its beauty through video, his calming slow-motion aesthetic has won him fans all over the world.

We sat down with Conor to find out what fuels his creativity for shooting in the water, and his plans for the future.

How long have you been shooting and what’s in your kit at the moment?

I have been shooting since the age of 14, so for 10 years now! It all started when l went on a family trip to Western Australia. l had a cheap underwater camera to photograph my cousin body boarding. It sparked a passion and love for film making in the ocean. Cameras have come a long way since then and  I currently use a Lumix GH5 with a Panasonic 14-42mm G X Vario PZ lens, paired with an AquaTech GH5 Elite water housing.

What inspired you to specialise in ocean videography?

I was brought up on the Australian east coast, and from a young age was taught to surf and swim in the ocean. Being in and around the water has always been second nature to me. I was inspired by Chris Bryan’s slow motion video reels and wanted to witness every wave possible and capture the ocean in its rawest form. l also find swimming and just being in the surf very peaceful and calming.

 

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Why slow-motion video and not stills?

Honestly I was torn between the two at first. Filming and editing always had a way of luring me in because of the emotion and connection with movement and music. I immediately took interest in the LUMIX G series because they are above and beyond when it comes to high frame rate video. Shooting at 180fps combined with in-camera stabilisation and the compact size of the GH5 makes it incomparable. Best decision I ever made to purchase one.

 

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Do you have a set of go-to camera and exposure settings that you use?

It’s important to keep your shutter speed at twice the frame rate. I shoot mostly at 180fps which means my shutter speed needs to be at 1/360th or above. My aperture is always wide open in low light but otherwise my settings vary according to the conditions.

Weather obviously plays a big part in your work. How important is it that the surf conditions are right?

A lot of the time my work takes planning down to every detail. Winds, tide, swell and weather need to be exactly how l want them. To have perfect conditions means waves need to be breaking in a particular formation/shape and having the sun right where you need it to be.

 

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What time of the day do you like to shoot and why?

My favourite time to shoot is when the sun rises over the ocean. Not only is being in the water a great way to start the day but the colours and their reflection on the water are beyond amazing to capture and witness in person.

What kind of clips are most popular with your audience? Why do you think they stand out?

I’ve found the most engaging clips are with the moments shot at sunrise and sunset. People are captivated by the unique moment when the sun’s rays glimmer off the water. I can’t get enough.

 

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Do you still shoot in winter?

Most definitely! The swell around home is always better in winter. There is also the added benefit of fewer people on the beach and in the water due to the colder temperatures and larger waves.

Shooting in the water can be dangerous for you and your gear. What safety tips can you offer a beginner?

I choose AquaTech water housings because l know and trust their gear are always going to protect my Panasonic kit.

As a beginner and as someone without a lot of water knowledge, knowing your limits is very important. Always go out with a friend and tell someone where you are planning to go. Your life is more important than a photograph or a video.

 

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What is next on your gear wish list?

I would love to test the Leica DG 8-18mm lens. It would be great to try that wide-angle perspective underwater, and I think its versatility would be really great for travelling as well.

Also, I’m impatiently waiting for the next G Series camera in the making, I can’t imagine what Panasonic have in store!

What projects do you have coming up next?

I’m planning a few things. I’d love to create an ocean show reel to showcase my best and most loved captures. My fiancé and I are looking at doing some more travelling which we have a huge passion for. We have started a YouTube channel called “Conor and Oceana“ which will feature some vlogs, and potentially a videography how-to series answering those constant questions that get asked on my social channels. The channel could be a way to share the tips and tricks I’ve learnt so far and hopefully inspire some up-and–coming filmmakers!