Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How To Shoot With A Surf Photographer

I can't believe I haven't posted this on my blog yet! Incredible. After giving my speech to the group of groms from the Mar Vista High Surf Team this past weekend, that's when it hit me... post it on your blog.

I've been fortunate to have worked with some of legendary water photographers that used to paddle back to the beach after 36 photos, reload the film then paddle back out in some heavy shit. Chang, Van Lennop, Flindt and Hank to name a few. But it was the infamous Aaron Lloyd that pretty much taught me that shooting water is work. It takes two people to understand what is really going on to capture that split moment in time which encapsulates those raw emotions of elation. Jeff Flindt and I traveled plenty together. I saw how he was very precise and was essentially a perfectionist. If you want to embrace those raw human feelings and mother nature's raw energy, you kinda have to be.

Once you read through this 10 point checklist, you should be a wave rider that understands the techniques on how to shoot with a water photographer that has a fish eye set up. These are MY tips. These may or may not work for other surf photographers as I don't know their experience in the water. My 30 years plus of ocean knowledge may differ from other photographers.

Now, what I'm about to say is for you the wave rider that is going out with me to get photos. If you're going out for a free surf, that's different. If we get a shot, sweet. If not, no worries. But if we go out with the intentions of getting a sick shot, well... read on. You ready? Here we go...

1. Work Together. Understand that the photographer wants to get 'the shot' as much as you do. So work with him/her. Most fish eye lens' perfect focus and composition distance is at about three feet. So whether you're pulling in to a barrel or going to do a maneuver, aim for that three foot mark.  That's three feet from the front of the water housing to you the rider. But there are times when I want a different look or angle. 80% of the time we will shoot for that three foot mark.

2. Communicate. I tell wave riders to give me a heads up when a set is coming. A deep loud, HO! is good enough. If you're at a beach break, yelling 'LEFTY!' or 'RIGHTY' will give me enough time to paddle out and get in position for either or. I will do the same. If you are paddling out of the prime zone and I'm not tracking you (meaning paddling with you) I will tell you to get closer. I sometimes will see things differently. And probably one of the most important things to communicate is telling you whether to go or not. If I say GO! You go! I can't begin to tell you how many empty barrels have gone by when the rider didn't listen.

3. Paddling Out. If there are others out shooting with you, please ALWAYS paddle BEHIND the photographer. If you have to paddle in front of the photographer you best duck dive early and deep. You do not want to ruin someone else's shot because you were simply paddling out.

4. Wipe The Face. Great friend and pro bodyboarder of the 90's, Cameron 'PAB' Steele, was on my first photo trip to Cabo San Lucas back in '89. I can still hear him saying, 'wipe the snot off your face.' This guy was a pro. Before every wave, he'd wipe his face to get rid of any seaweed, kelp, snot or whatever. He didn't want a bright green burger to be the culprit of a great shot to put on his wall and one that he would be cursing at. Sure, there's photoshop now. But why make me work more when a quick face wipe would save me 15 minutes behind the computer.

5. Spraying Yourself. Don't do this. How many times have you seen a water shot of a pro in the magazines with spray all over the place? Almost never! So work on doing your bottom turns, barrel riding and moves without out spraying yourself while doing it. Keep it clean.

6. Understanding The Fish Eye. I've got a spread in SUP Journal of Sean Poynter bottom turning. Yes, bottom turning. The fish eye lens works wonders. I love it for two reasons. 1. I'm able to get right in the action with the wave and riders. And 2. the lens can make a two foot wave seem like a four foot wave! It's amazing. Remember, if I yell GO! I may see something that you do not.

7. Keep Your Line. I lost count on how many times I've said, 'don't worry about hitting me.' Again, these tips are coming from me. I don't want to put other photographers in harm's way. But for me (wearing a bright yellow helmet with a blue SD sticker on the front), GET AS CLOSE AS YOU CAN and do your thing. Once you get nervous and change your line on the wave because you think you're going to hit me, that's when there could be trouble. I've seen every type of wave rider ride. So if you just do your thing, I can predict what you're going to do and when you're going to do it. So please Keep You Line. I'm a master of getting out of the way. I've only been hit once from a wave rider. It was on a three foot day and it was a pro rider. He changed his line.

8. Tracking. I think this may relate to tip #2 Communication. But tracking is referring to keep that right amount of distance between me, the photographer and you the rider. The worst thing you can do is paddle away from me. If I can't track you and stay at a good distance from you as you paddle away, we're going to miss getting the shot. I will tell you if you're too far. You can NEVER be too close. If you take off right in front of me, it opens up other shooting angles. You can be too far from me but never too close. Just keep an eye on me. Each break will determine the 'right' distance between photographer and rider. Communicate.

9. Sponsors. I don't chase the pros anymore. As soon as I got my waterhousing set up, I was on the hunt to get a shot of a pro rider to make it in the mags. The reason I'm out in the water shooting isn't just for the pros. I like being out there for the sheer reason of being out in the surf. And I love making all wave riders stoked on getting a cool water photo.Of course if the pros come into town and we link up, epic. I love that they understand the fish eye and know the techniques on how to get a sick shot. If by chance, I do link up with sponsored pro riders and an up-and-comers, please put your sponsor stickers where it's going to count. I don't get those pros that don't put their sponsor logos on their boards. Dumb. They're hooking you up. The one thing you should do is hook them up by putting on a piece of plastic with sticky stuff on your board.

10. Have Fun. I love the challenge of being in the right spot when I press the trigger. That's fun for me. If you're a wave rider out to simply get a photo and forget about having fun, it'll show in the photos. Have fun people. If you're not having fun riding waves, which is impossible for me to understand, maybe you should try taking up MMA and release your life's frustrations that way. Otherwise, see you in the water.

Big backflip in the Canary Islands. Rider didn't about hitting me.

John Ashley sweeps by me.

Sean Fowler on a cool fall morning.

Sean Poynter cranks it just as he passes me.

Thomas Rigby pitted in Mexico.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Toughest Day Of Them All

Having to pack and getting ready to leave is, hands down, the toughest day of any fun adventurous trip with friends. The thought of getting back into the matrix of reality is often worse than the actual act. And I can see it some of their faces. They didn't want to leave. The best part about leaving? Now you have all the reason to come back.

I got behind the camera kinda late. I missed a bunch of shots of all the girls that were out before I found my shaded little corner in the condo complex of Las Olas. Once set up, I videoed more than taking photos. After the night prior's slideshow, it was cool to see everyone riding in video. I need to invest in one of those greedy tripod set ups. You can set up  your video camera and photo camera set up next to each other then push the record button on the video camera then concentrate on getting the shot with photos. I have a few friends that do that and I think it may be time to do the same. Especially on these trips! Done.

After everyone's last session in the warm waters of Cabo, they finished up packing. I think this was the first time on this trip, I've seen so many long faces. I believe most everyone were genuinely sad. And to be honest, so was I. It was cool to see the full spectrum of emotions with the SISTAS; one hunderd percent elation after the epic session on the East Cape and one hundred perfect confusion with the King.

I'll be working on the video clip for the ladies and for my promotional hype for the five day SUP Surf Cabo trips. Believe me, after one week with the SISTAS I have a ton of awesome clips to work with. I can't wait to start!

Thanks for reading the daily updates on my blog. Thanks to everyone involved for making this past week one to remember! Thanks to Pollo for being a hard worker even when your girl's birthday was during the same week! Buen trabajo loco. If you need a driver in Cabo to take care of you and your family... this is the go to guy! DannyBoyCabo.com. And last but never least... a super thanks to the SISTAS... you guys girls rocked!

Now, to update the SUPmex.com website with all the juice from this trip!

See you in the water!

Amy coasting over.

Barbara getting her last few moments at The Rock.

Hi Barbara :)

Jenny had two sessions. This is from session 1.

I love that shower. Great pressure and refreshing. Barbara rinsing off her Craig.

Jenny coming in from session 1.

Susan's last steps in the warm waters of Los Cabos.

The Rock was amazing. Thank you The Rock.

Leigh was in heaven in Cabo. I think her wave count passed up Amy's by just a few: 3,091 to 2,754.

Jenny's second session blew doors on her first. Epic.

Fins out, leashes off and ready for bubble wrap.

Ah... on the beach, jacuzzi, pool, refreshing shower and The Rock just steps away!

I told Pollo he has to start smiling during group photos.

The SISTAS and Pollo. The farewell shot.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Arch

It's the SISTAS' last full day at Land's End. And to leave Los Cabos without a paddle out to the legendary Cabo Arch would blasphemy. Today was the day. Another early start with Pollo showing up at 6:15am. Boards loaded by 6:40, we were off for the 25 minute drive west to Cabo San Lucas.

We parked at the Bahia Hotel and met up with Lee and Meredith from Cabo SUP. These two are just as amped on SUP as their dog is to be outside running crazy in the parking! Just make sure you don't wear your nice whites when you know you're going to see their very energetic black lab. Lee walked us down to the Cabo SUP beach house and stable located right on Medano Beach. Jorge, their main man on the beach, took care of us like if we were queens and kings. Needless to say, his service was legit and he knew what he was doing. Go see Jorge and tell 'em Manny sent you. He'll take care of you either way. www.CaboSUP.com is where you can find about the whole Cabo SUP crew.

We had about ten minutes or so before the sun came up. Gail couldn't wait and took off after our group photo. She was worried she wasn't going to keep up with the rest of us. But she was almost at the arch before we touched the water! Okay, not that far but she was gunning it. Jenny was the only one that held back with me so she got the shot with the sunrise.

Jenny and I caught up with everyone at the arch viewing area. I'm always amazed to see her majesty. It's so massive and impressive. Amazing. Pollo and I took about 25 minutes directing the SISTAS in position to get the shots. That was super fun. My friend Alex's wife, Angie, showed up to paddle with us by then. She hasn't been on the water since July. Bad girl! It was my first time using the 50mm lens in my water housing. I had to put in on automatic focus to make sure I got a clear shot. I was stoked on the images.

We made our way to Lover's Beach and then checked out the shorey at Divorce Beach. To all my bodyboarding readers, it was not that good; a little too mixed up. Just before we got back on the boards the SISTAS insisted we get a photo showing off their Craig SUP boards. David if you're reading, you've got some loyal riders here.

On our way back to the Cabo SUP stables, I asked the crew if they wanted to jump off of Pelican Rock. Amy was first to say yes. Susan and Leigh joined in. The waves were mellow and the tide was high so getting up was really easy. First to go was Amy, then Susan and Leigh. Amy was the only one to go up to level 4 of 5. In other words, out of all of us that jumped off, she jumped from the highest height. Epic.

We finished off our Cabo San Lucas stay at Bar Esquina at the Bahia Hotel. Food, atmosphere and service... A+. I had the chilequiles with scrambled eggs. Big portion and very yummy! And it's one of the few places you can get a quality coffee. A definitely must when in Cabo. Be sure to visit Jorge, Lee, Meredith at Cabo SUP and at the Bahia Hotel as well.

A quick two hour stop in the center of San Jose for last minute shopping and ice cream was next. The SISTAS bought up gifts for friends and family. Pollo was on the phone and kept an eye on the car. I walked around get some B roll stuff. Such a different scene here in San Jose. A lot more mellow than Cabo San Lucas. You can have the best of both worlds within 30 minutes of each other. I love Cabo! Did I say that already?

Few of the SISTAS snuck in an afternoon session before Margaritas, Sake and slideshow. The crew opted to have an in-house cook serve up the last dinner. Enchiladas, tostadas, pueblano, ride and beans... I was in heaven! I want to thank the crew for their video testimonials. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

We finished off another full day with a slideshow of the week's adventure in Los Cabos. That was also fun, funny and pretty cool. When we got to the video section of the awesome session at La Fortuna, it was basically the Leigh show. I can't believe how many waves she got on video! Everyone else got a ton of waves too but Leigh owned that session.

The SISTAS have a half day left. Update later on what they did and my own personal summary on the inaugural SUPmex.com Cabo SUP Surf tour.

The SISTAS and the Cabo SUP crew. Thank you for taking care of us.

Here we go...

Jenny is stoked.

Pollo working.

The SISTAS. Did I say it was bumpy out there.

Gail throwing shaka before getting wet.







Team Craig. The SISTAS.

Jenny's breakfast. Smoked salmon.

Pollo working.

Manny working.

Okay, get together.

Amy going big!

Susan making sure she clears the 4 inches outward.

Leigh up and away!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

What It's All About.

These 6am departure times seem like a chore but the rewards... well, today the SISTAS were very rewarded!

Pollo showed up with the pimp suburban at 6:20am, we loaded up the boards and off we went. First stop again, OXXO. Load up on water and snacks. No one ended up touching the pork rinds I bought except for Amy had a few.

It was pre-sunrise as we headed out to the East Cape. Needless to say, the sunrise was amazing as usual. The first bit of excitement came when we were faced with a river bed that was flowing. Pollo was nervous about crossing. I went out and tested the waters. After walking through and not getting any deeper than shin deep, I gave him the green light. He punched it and skimmed through the muddy water like nothing. It was pretty awesome! Wait for the video!

We rolled up to Shipwrecks and there were about four people out and wasn't looking to good. After a vote, it was off for the hunt of 9 Palms. No one, except for Jenny some 10 years ago, has been there. We didn't how far it was or what. Along the way, we passed an awesome empty right hand point break. Leigh was itching to stop and get out there but we agreed that we have to at least see 9 Palms. Just another short drive over the bumpy road and we believed we've arrived to 9 Palms. It wasn't happening so we bolted back to that right hander. Still, no body was on it!

Pollo set up down the beach to get some photos and I videoed most of the session before both of my batteries ran out on my Canon 7D.

After two epic sessions, the SISTAS were stoked and as Gail put it, "partched." I really can't say anything other than the regular footers were in SUP heaven! Amy and Susan worked on their backhand and managed to get a few solid ones too. When I have people on my tours come to me and say, 'that was awesome,' I have succeeded on showing them what I was hoping they would discover... perfect waves, empty lineup and good times. Thank you SISTAS for enjoying today. That's what it's all about.

Pollo took over 500 photos during those two sessions! Insane! I think Jenny pulled off a marathon session as well. Barbara was able to fix her damaged fin box and put in a couple sessions. But it was Leigh that was having the time of her life. "I'm happy" is what I remember her telling as she came in for a break. I'm happy too.

We headed to San Jose to grub on some mariscos (seafood) at Taqueria Rossy. Gail's friend recommended it and it was a great recommendation!

Tomorrow we're off to paddle to the arch in Cabo San Lucas. We'll eat some brunch and hang out with Lee and Meredith from Cabo SUP. See you in the water.

Amazing. East Cape.

Surf check. Shipwrecks.

Susan working on her backhand.

Leigh was catching everything in sight... and loving it!

Looks like Barbara's fin box is holding up.

Marathon session for Jenny.

Whoa... don't know what happen here.

Amy and Susan ready.

Amy leaning.

Thank you for the line up shot Pollo!

Gail is stoked. Her second session was better than her first hands down.

Stoked. Barbara.

It was all smiles this morning. Jenny.

Leigh. Happy.

Pollo working.

Jenny on another gem.

Second session.

Gail in speed position.

Whole fish with the major fixings.

Don't know what it is but looks tasty.