Thursday, February 28, 2013

Finally - a chance to dive

I love photographing surfers (as if y'all couldn't tell) but it's still a spectator sport. My "do it" passion here of course is scuba diving. Yesterday I got to tag along with Darryl on a discover dive at Crashboat.

No matter how many times we dive a site, there is always something new or different to see. On this dive it was reef squid. I LOVE THE REEF SQUID! We very rarely see them at Crashboat for some reason, and rarely this time of year. We usually see them snorkeling in the summer at Shacks or at Wishing Well. It was so cool being able to hang out underwater with them.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

More surfers at Wilderness

Another great session at Wilderness yesterday morning. Want to see more? Check our out website Don't want to see more? Don't look. I'm okay either way.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Back to surfers

 Okay, after a day of photographing kite surfers, yesterday was back to surfers, this time at Wilderness. I caught this shot of our friend Kathy H. on top of a wave, racing a dive boat. Kathy was ahead for a while but eventually the wave closed out and the boat pulled away.

As always, you can see more on our website,

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Kite surfing at Shacks

I've been photographing surfers so much lately I haven't taken time to photographer kite surfers, even though I live a ten-minute walk from one of the best kite surfing beaches in the world. No excuses. Yesterday there had good wind and nice waves so I spent some time with the kite surfers. You can see the best of them on our website,

That's only sort of a commercial. There isn't room here for all the pictures (there are nearly 50). It's really to give you an opportunity to see more if you're interested. Thanks for looking!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Can't get enough

So Dunja and Elaine were back swimming with the horses yesterday. Dunja is hooked! And the horses (and Elaine) love it too.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Other surf spots

I've been trying to photograph at other surf breaks besides the "usual" - Middles, Surfers, Wilderness.

There is a series of breaks south of Wilderness: The Mix, Pressure Point, a couple of others I don't know the names of, all the way to Wishing Well and then Mangalito and Gas Chambers (the area we scuba divers call Natural). Yesterday, I ventured over to The Mix and got some great shots, like this one of Simon Hetrick. It's fun getting out of the rut.

As always, you can see more on our website, and on our Flickr page. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Our friends Dunja and Josie from Switzerland are visiting this week. Josie is a wind surfer who loves the winds at Shacks. Dunja is a marvelous wonderful horse woman. She rides regularly in Switzerland and at a trailride ranch in Spain. She and Elaine have been riding every day.

The day before yesterday it was a ride on the beach. Then yesterday, Elaine, Dunja and Marie took the horses swimming.

Dunja rides a lot in Switzerland and even rides on beaches during her stays in Spain. But this was the first time she rode a horse swimming.  I think she liked it!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Morning rounds

One day. Three different surf breaks. Five photo sessions. Fabulous!
The big swell from Nemo was almost straight out of the north. A pure north swell, especially a big swell, makes finding a surf break that's working around here a bit of a challenge with lots of just driving around looking, making the morning rounds.

Jobos? Messy and windblown .Bad enough they postponed the competition for a day. Middles? The same. Surfers? Not bad but windblown and really nobody out. Wilderness? Big and more sheltered from the wind but not lining up. Only four or five people out. But I got a few good shots.

Another surfer told me Mangalitos was going off. I stopped at Punta Borinquen on the way out from Wilderness and shot a few photos of a couple of the pros from the competition having fun on a day off.

On to Mangalitos. I've never shot at this break before. In fact I didn't even know where it was until I asked a friend for directions. Turns out it's right at what we divers call the "alternate entrance" to  Natural. (Surfers call the little beach/surf break at Natural "Gas Chambers.") I don't know how often this little spot goes off, but it was working  this day!

I had such a great session there I decided to go back for an afternoon session. WOW! The light completely changed. The waves turned this incredible icy translucent green. The barrels just kept coming and the surfers were getting every one.

The other wonderful part of the afternoon session is Elaine went along. She usually doesn't go on surf shoots but this one she did. She got to see all of this first-hand, not just in the pictures.

We still had one more stop to make. I started to go back to Wilderness but got sidetracked to Punta Borinquen again and yet another amazing but totally different session.

As the light started to fade, we turned west for one more set of photos

You can see the best of all five sessions on our website, and you can see a condensed set, the very best of the best on our Flickr page.

Wow! What a day. It may be the single best surf photography day I've ever had. And that's saying something!

Monday, February 11, 2013

The best laid plans

The best laid plans - mine and the surf competition's - often go awry.

For the first two days of the event the surfers had pretty much no waves. Nada. Nothing. Then today the swell from Nemo (when did they start naming snow storms? - obviously at least 14 letters ago) finally arrived - at the same time a low front passed over the island with big winds (even for here) and rain. The event organizers declared a "lay day" (a day off) for tomorrow with plans to finish the event on Wednesday.

And my plans? Well in the last post I explained why I don't normally photograph surf events (too many other "important" photographers) and that I planned to KAP (kite aerial photography) this one as I have previous competitions.

All well and good. I skipped the first day of the competition (Saturday) and the huge crowds and blocked roads. I got there early Sunday to get a decent parking place, set up my kite and the KAP rig and be in place for a long KAP session on the beach.

There was nice steady not ridiculously strong wind so I put up the Ola Lola's rokaku kite as my lifter. It's a beautiful kite made just for us by a friend in Wisconsin. But it is a VERY strong pulling kite that I can only use moderate winds. Sunday was perfect. I could fly our logo over the crowd (a bit of ambush marketing) and KAP at the same time. Cool!

All was going well when the wind totally died. The wind never totally dies here! Except for this one particular moment. My spot on the beach left do room for a "rescue run;" there was literally no where to run. So I started hauling in line hand-over-hand as fast as I could.

Just not fast enough.

I watched the kite sink toward the ocean and my camera sink into the ocean. I happened to be standing right by the event life guard tent and several brave life guards waded into the lake-flat water to rescue camera and kite. The kite survived to fly another day. The camera, alas, did not.

This is the last photo my camera took as it sank into the ocean.

In addition to totally drowning the camera, the dunk in the ocean ruined the receiver and the servos on the KAP rig. So I not only have to replace the camera, I also have to rebuild the kite rig.

Several people have asked my why I don't use a waterproof camera like the GoPro. Good question. Until the latest edition of the GoPro, the still images just weren't good enough. The camera was really made for video, which it does well. The stills were mediocre at best. I've read about the new GoPro3 and it looks like it has potential. Because of some recent correspondence, I have some personal issues with the GoPro company. But that's another story. Maybe some day I'll get over it and buy a GoPro. for now, no.

Besides, in six years of KAPping, most of it over and around the ocean, this is the first dunking/drowning incident I've had. Call it acceptable risk. I've ordered a new camera and the parts to rebuild the KAP rig. We'll be back in business in a week or so.

Just too late for the Rip Curl contest.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Rip Curl Pro surf contest

So there is another Rip Curl Pro surf contest at Jobos this weekend. It's not nearly as big as the one at Middles in 2010. It's kind of a Triple-A league event. There are a few topline surfers here but it's mostly minor leagues.

That's okay though. It means more surfers and especially more families which means there is a better chance we'll get some business out of the event. (The big Rip Curl event in 2010 actually cost us business but that's another story.)

My big question is: Why Jobos? Why not Middles? Okay, I'll grant you there is more existing infrastructure for the event at Jobos. They didn't have to build the big scaffold tower at Jobos. They are using the old Costa Bar as the headquarters and judging platform.

For everyone else, Jobos is a logistical nightmare. Parking is extremely limited which means the road will be parked shut. Early this morning, the first day of the event with no swell to speak of, the road was already jammed.

And I'm afraid it's only going to get worse as the day and the event wear on. I'm guessing tomorrow the police will wind up closing the road through Jobos.

The one logistical saving grace is there are no waves today. The little dark ridge in the picture below is what's passing for a wave. I hate to think about what the area would be like if there were real waves.

We produced, competed  and performed at kite festivals in the States for many years. Every time I see a surf competition with no waves I think back to our kite festivals with no wind. What do you do? In the case of the kite events, we had a "fly-or-die" rule. As a competitor or performer, you went out and did the best you could with what you had. Looks like the surfers have something similar.

There are supposed to be waves coming - big ones! - starting late Monday when the swell from that big blizzard that dumped two feet of snow on the Northeast gets here. If it gets as big as they are predicting that will create it's own problems. Jobos as a surf break doesn't handle big waves all that well. Once the waves get overhead or bigger it becomes nearly unsurfable. It will be interesting to see what happens as the conditions change.

I'm not photographing the surfers and the competition per se. I will however KAP the event over the next few days. Watch for those photos here.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Happy Birthday, Marti

Today would have been my mother's 86th birthday. We miss her everyday.

Tomorrow would have been my great-aunt Nora's 96th birthday. Just ten years apart, Marti and Nora were more like sisters than aunt and niece. Today one of Nora's daughters asked me if I have any pictures of the two of them together. Sadly, I don't.

How did we let this happen? I'm a photographer. I spend so much time looking for pictures I sometimes (frequently) miss important ones that are right in front of me. If we do capture those important moments, they frequently get consigned to shoe boxes or drawers dedicated to photos we don't think are important enough to organize and identify properly.

True, such organization takes time and many of us - me included - just don't take the time to do it. I don't make New Year's resolutions but I'm making these two resolutions for this Chinese New Year: first, not to miss the "little" moments; they are important. Second, to get better at labeling, tagging and identifying my photos.

 I hope to not say "No, I don't have  picture of them together" again.