Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hawaiian Color

Today was... yes, another day in paradise. Ryan took us out on the waters off Kona again. Warm, clear and almost surreal. I took my camera and snapped over 150 photos but wanted to experiment on the cool black and white images that have some color accents. Here's the simple workflow that I used for the goods:

  1. Bring photo into Photoshop
  2. Adjust levels
  3. Level out the horizon
  4. Image/Adjustments/Vibrance - Adjust accordingly
  5. Image/Mode/Grey scale
  6. Save As/Jpeg/Save As with extension _bw.jpeg
  7. On original image - Delete Grey Scale in history list (or on a PC - Ctrl+Alt+Z until you get back to the color image)
  8. Open image with _bw.jpeg extension
  9. Select all and copy
  10. Go back to original color image file and paste the _bw.jpeg image on new layer
  11. Click to hide the new _bw.jpeg layer
  12. On original color image layer, zoom in and use selection tool and select the part you want to be color
  13. Unhide the layer with the black and white image
  14. With the black and white layer selected, click delete
  15. Boom! Done.
  16. Resize and watermark.
  17. Save As...

That was my quick and easy way. Got another method. Share please. Now, the goods:

Lunch time on the rock wall in downtown Kailua Kona.

Mailei SUPing past the Royal Kona Resort.

Cross Processing In Hawaii

I've been researching going into wedding photography with my wife. I think we're going all in. No, not to worry... I'll make sure I get out in the surf for the earlies and keep shooting what I love. But the time has come to make some real dinero with the skills I've learned over the years. Plus, it's another excuse to have fun. Who doesn't have fun at weddings!?

Through our research of wedding photographs, we found that a lot of images are photoshopped or edited with special software. You know, the software where you can import an image, click a few buttons and viola... instant sick edited photos. Before I invest into that kinda of stuff I really want to learn how to do it on my own.

Today, I took a couple images and followed the easy instructions from this link and boom... cool looking pics. Perfect cross processed look? Maybe. Fun and easy to learn, most def. Check it:

Magic Sands lifeguard tower. Kona, Hawaii.

Local ripper bodyboarder stands up on this mini shorey.
Tomorrow, we got black and white with some splash of color.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kona Gold

Good friend Ryan picked me up this morning for a bodyboard session down at his local break. I took my camera to get some pix to show you the endless amount of photo ops. Come to Hawaii, bring your camera... and use it.


First, I picked a few photos that told the story. Then, I adjusted the levels. If needed, I tweaked with the curves. Then color balance. Resize to 1024px on long side. Unmask Sharp. Adjust. Paste logo (made previously in separate .png file). Save As .jpg. Boom.

The wana soul has passed but her spines remain with us.

Locals know exactly when and where to be. In the two hours I was out there, I didn't see that section or size of wave. Dustin and Kainoa paddle out and get this.


Kainoa. Setting up.

Genius. Fish go in to pond small. Fatten up and are trapped in pond. When the King wanted fish... he had fish.

All aboard!

Ryan said it was a rare bird. I believe him for some reason. I've never seen a bird with feathers that look like a Starbucks Frapiccino. Made me thirsty.

Tour guide Ryan said that these branches sometimes fall on the ground. I really don't want to find one embedded in my heel.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hawaiian Fuel

Coming from half way across the world, I should be napping most of the day from jet lag. But being here in Hawaii well... it's hard to let the sunny days go by. It's late and now I'm crashing. So with one eye shut, I'll let the photos do the talking.

Kaimana's afternoon.

The Myer family taking care of us during our stay on Oahu.

Kalbi beef and steak skewers during sunset. Hawaiian style.

Photo ops galore. Diamond Head in the background. Oh yeah... warm water!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Box Pro Wrap Up

I've got some time to kill here in the commuter terminal in San Diego. My ride won't be here for another hour or so.

The Box Pro event in Western Australia was unreal. Second place finisher, Magno Oliveira, said it best, "any other event would've be postponed out there... I'm proud to be a bodyboarder." The Box is a shallow reef in Margaret River south of Perth and it was absolutely off the chains! 6-10 foot monsters rolled in and surged massive barrels during the last day of the event.

Born and bred Margaret River local, Ryan Hardy, hands down dominated the entire event. He won every heat he was in, including the final! The Box reef and the entire beach where the event was located has tons of Hardy history. For Ryan to come out and win the event... well, it was destiny.

Ryan Hardy drops in to a monster Box barrel. South African Sasha Specker gets the shot from the channel.

I have to give props where they are due. First, to all the competitors who charged the gnarly conditions. I sure the hell wouldn't! Second, the judges for doing the thankless job of sitting and watching. Last but not least, the Snakes and Ladder production crew. These are the guys that bring you all the sick highlights and make sure the live broadcast looks as dope as it does.

The production crew: (LtoR) Xavier, Todd, Pat, Murray, Mitch, Seamus (in back), Kaniever, Pete (in back), Stacy & Lara (English travelers) and me.

I was stoked to be a part of such a historical bodyboarding event.

Next stop, Chile for the Arica Challenge. Watch it LIVE! More info on The Box Pro and the Arica Challenge at:

I've posted some photos from the trip here:

Now, check out the Final Day highlight reel:

THE BOX PRO - FINAL DAY from IBA on Vimeo.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Stop The Presses!

Am I really off to Australia? Or is this some kind of cruel belated April fool's joke?

At around 8am this morning, my friend Chris called me up and said, "do you want the good news or the bad news first?" I asked for the bad news. "Sorry, that was a trick question. There is no bad news. I got your passport in hand with your Australian visa. How soon do you want it?" Are you kidding me?! I was sure that all my calls, not only annoyed the representatives, but I imagined they would put the brake pedal to the metal on my visa application process.

First, I want to publicly voice that I'm sorry. I'm sorry I even thought that representatives would do such a thing. I'm sure they are great people and they were simply doing their jobs. But when emotions get to a boiling point level, your mind starts to bounce off the reality tracks. Again, I apologize to the representatives that have to deal with situations like mine day in and day out. I'd never say anything bad about Australia and/or it's embassy workers. So I thank you.

For the absolute 100% confirmation tune in tomorrow morning. That's when I will have my passport and visa in hand... I hope (gulp).

Sunday, April 10, 2011

New Adventure. New Lineup.

If some of you don't already know, my other part time job is taking water photos of regular surfers, bodyboarders, longboarders, SUPers, knee boarders and even bodysurfers. Essentially, any and all wave riders. I'll be more than happy to chase a swell with a pro rider but I stoking out those wave riders that never get the chance or opportunity to shoot with a professional water photograher.

Well, today was a new adventure into the unknown. After riding this spot yesterday... wait, let me stop here for a second. The one thing I make clear on my site is to keep all wave names, beach names and street names off my website. I'm out to expose your stoke, not your break. Okay, back to this spot. I knew that this morning was going to be good in the A.M. Sunny skies and offshore winds. I was right. After my 30 minute drive, I parked and headed straight out.

I've paddled out to a couple other breaks and right off the bat, I got a few dirty looks. In fact, one dude told me he didn't like that fact that I was out there exposing his spot. And if you've seen this spot, its located where everyone can see it from the road and there's even stairs leading out to the water. Exposing his spot? I don't think I can expose it more than that! I avoid very localized spot, obviously. So the odds were in my favor to see smiles and stoke when I paddle out wth my camera. Today, I got a good hand. Not only were the waves good but the vibe was cool and mellow.

After an hour and a half of shooting this peak, I made my way to another peak and grabbed a few more photos then paddled in. I was met at the shower by an old buddy. We chatted it up and he was about to head out. I had about 30 more minutes before I had to head out for a brunch date. That was plenty of time to get a few photos of my friend Matt.

So here's to a great morning session with great vibes, friends and clear skies! Check the entire gallery here:

Matt owning it on his new ride.
This bodyboarder was getting some of the longest pit I've seen in California!


Great vibes.

Friday, April 8, 2011

the Box Epedition :: Day 4

No Go. That's it people. I will not be going to what may be one of the best bodyboarding events on the 2011 GSS IBA World Tour... The Box Pro. Take my word... I did everything in my power to try to get this very elusive Australian visa. So much so, that everyone at the Australian Embassy (Stephanie, Carol, Ingrid and Emma) all probably want to ring my neck. For the past few days, I've been trying to get them to go that extra mile and help me out. But to no avail. I wasn't rude. I wasn't too pushy. I just wanted to know why I was denied the online visa via ETA (

I got a glimpse of hope when one representatives said that processing can actually be done in one business day. So I got the green light to make this happen. I filled out all the proper forms, took passport photos and even sent in my actual passport to make sure that nothing would get in the way. I called today to make sure everything arrived overnight and then it happened... Carol was the one to give it to me, "I'm sorry Manuel. You will not be recieving your visa today, Monday or Tuesday. These types of applications take up to six weeks to process." As difficult as it was to do, I kept my cool. I just tried to put her in my situation. And for a moment, she understood where I was coming from. But then she came back and kept to her script.

What does all this mean and what did we learn from it? Well, let's see:

-As an American citizen, check all requirements before purchasing your ticket to your destination. If you need certain documents (ie. visas), be sure you have enough time to get that processed. Some visas are free but I suggest that you have your travel agent take care of this for you as soon as you purchase your ticket.

-If you're buying your own ticket online, you are responsible to do this. Do not wait until you get to the boarding gate! Pay that $20 (different countries vary in pricing) to ensure you have it in your hands!

Now what?! I'm not going to be calling the play-by-play shots but that doesn't mean I catch watch! Terry McKenna may be doing the commentating and this guy is a pro. He will get the job done proper.

I just booked a ticket to Hawaii. My wife is doing her first half-marathon in Waikiki next weekend. I was going to miss it because I was supposed to be in Oz. So I'll be in Hawaii during the Box Pro. This is a call out to all my friends on Oahu and the Big Island. Let's organize BBQs, parties or just a place to gather and watch the event together. You know me, it's all about being around people that love the same shit we do. Gooks, I know you can pull off rallying up the crew on the BI crew. Kai or Mason Rose, let's set up a place on Oahu to bring the posse together.

I believe that things happen for a reason. And I wasn't meant to be in Australia, then so be it. That's not going to stop me from being a part of bodyboarding history. So hit me up and let's organize on this side of the camera. Facebook or email me and let's do this.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

the Box Expedition :: Day 3

Alex Leon and Seamus Makim Skyped me from Margaret River to say, "You here yet?". Dammit! I should be there by now! Two nights ago I was denied boarding on Qantas flight 108 at LAX. To this day, I still don't know exactly why I was denied an Australian tourist visa.

Today I got the ball rolling in hopes of getting that visa and getting on the plane on Tuesday. This is it. This IS do or die!

FedEx Express delivery, application fees and the possibility of the embassy simply saying no has all contributed to at least five grey stress hairs on my nogan. Breathe....

Now it all comes down to the mood of the person who opens my package. That's what it really comes down to. Please let that person be in a good mood!

On a good note. Friend and fashion photographer, Chris, was on a bikini modeling shoot in Cabo with me a couple years back. Get this... he happens to live right down the street from the Australian Embassy in Washington D.C. He hit me up on Facebook after reading my post and has offered to help me out in anyway possible. In fact, he said he knew a couple people in the building. Hopefully, it's not the janitor and mail person.

If it goes as planned, I'll be on the flight to Oz on Tuesday night!

Okay, wish me luck people.

Day 2 Results

Yesterday was do or die day. I was on the phone first thing in the morning with the Australian Embassy in Washington D.C. I was trying to figure out why the hell I was denied boarding my Quantas flight two nights ago. All I got was, 'fill out the online application and call back if you are denied.' So I filled it out and on submission, I had to wait 12 more hours to see if I got approved or denied.

I took this time to meet up with my LA friends. Bladam and Brooka took me to the best mexi food joint in the LAX area. Then we visited Mike Lee at his liquor store, Snappy Food Mart.

Great food and great friends in the video. Plus, the final result on whether or not I'm boarding tonight's Quantas flight 108. Check it:

Day 2 : The Journey to the IBA Box Pro event.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Rookie Mistake?

Just when you think you know it all. Nope. Read on...

As a veteran globe trotter, I like to abide by a few key tricks of the 'budget traveler' trade:
  • Bring your own snacks
  • Bring your own sleeping gear (ear plugs, neck pillow, etc.)
  • Don't wear a belt or any metal for that matter
  • One carry-on really means two
  • Be the very last person to board (the plane won't leave without you)

But it's all in the details as well:
  • Have up-to-date passport
  • Register with the US Embassy in your traveling country
  • Check up on vaccinations and recommended medical precautions
  • Pack extra trunks, undies and toiletries in carry on

Now for the rookie mistake. Here's the reason why I'm blogging from a room at the Raddisson near LAX and not half way to Sydney. My tickets were booked in Australia and I was unaware that I was responsible to obtain my own Aussie visa. Quantas called my name about 40 minutes before boarding my 11:50pm flight. "Mr. Vargas its showing that you have yet to apply for your visa. But we can do that here at no cost to you." Sweet. No problem. Oh wait... problem. "Our systems are not allowing us to process your visa." What! "Please call the Australian embassy tomorrow morning and rebook your flight. Sorry for the inconvinience."

I'm hoping my call to the Aussie embassy in D.C. and online application this morning will get me back in motion to get to The Box event. If so, please learn from my mistake. Cover all your bases and if you're heading to Australia, make sure your visa is good to go.

Monday, April 4, 2011

On The Eve

One the eve of my flight to Western Austalia for the IBA Box Pro event, I'm feeling a little worried. As some of you may or may not know, I'm the IBA World Tour's official play-by-play live internet streaming event commentator dude. I'm a tad worried because this trip will not include my right hand man, the bodyboarding super statistician himself, Steve 'Action' Jackson. I know I'm going to pull it off but knowing that I could count on him to know some of the things about the pros that I didn't was really nice during the Pipe Pro event.

I guess it means that I have to put in some homework and memorize some of the stats myself. I can tell you about the name of Jared Houston's barber in the Canary Islands. I can tell you what PLC's favorite after-event drink is. And I can tell you about Ryan Hardy's tennis game. But now I need to find out how old Guilherme Tamega was when he won his third world title. Yes, it's time to study. If you have any unknown facts about the pros, send 'em my way. I'd love to have more than enough ammo for the show.

Tune in here for my daily updates. And get all the event info on:

Action and I during the Pipe Pro.

One last thing; I never in my entire bodyboarding life, career, whatever... I never thought that you'd be able to bet on bodyboarders. Literally. Not only can you bet on the winner of the event but you can also be on the world tour winner and, get this, you can bet per heat as well! Nutz! Check this out:

Friday, April 1, 2011

Fish Tacos

I wanted to update my blog with something very interesting and exciting. Well, after a long look through some files, I came up with something that made me want to get in my car and head south of the border this instant! No, it wasn't the folder titled 'Epic Mexico Photos' that did it. It was actually a bunch of video clips that I took while my friend Adrian Munoz and I captured while on a day trip to San Miguel back in February. The waves were okay but it was what's in this video that made me almost grab my passport and wife and bail. Check it: