Lunch In Surf City


IMG_3701_6274“We should get together,” I said a few days ago to Larry Fitzgerald. This afternoon we were texting each other to apologize for traffic and parking related delays.

We met in Huntington Beach, aka Surf City. It’s two days before the US Open of Surfing. It’s “the season” in HB.

There was trouble at the Open last year. Violence. Rioting. Huntington Beach suffered a black eye then worked hard publicly to guarantee there would be no repeat in 2014.

IMG_3709_6282It was hot in SoCal today. Temps were near 90 just a few blocks inland. At the HB Pier the report was 78&#176 with the water at 68&#176. Lovely.

We were going to lunch at Ruby’s, a 50s themed diner at the end of Huntington Beach’s long fishing pier. We were there for the schmooze, not the kitsch.

Considering it’s Thursday the beach and pier were jammed! This is an active beach with volleyball, bicycling and surfing. An in-water lifesaving course was in progress alongside the pier.

IMG_3707_6280It was hazy today, but I made out Santa Catalina in the distance and a few offshore oil rigs which look a lot closer in my photo than they actually are.

This is oil country. I even shot pumps in action behind someone’s house!

We decided we’ll meet again. Cameras again too!

Surf’s Up In Laguna Beach


Good surf conditions seemed likely today, so I threw on a pair of shorts and sweatshirt, packed my camera and lenses and headed to Laguna Beach. Laguna was a call of convenience. I was looking for a surf spot as close to home as possible. Google suggested Thalia Street Beach.

Thalia Street is a locals spot. The surfing is OK. No one goes out of their way to come here. The waves crest beautifully, but break quickly. Short rides.

Thalia Street itself is a dead end stub west of CA-1. Stairs built into the palisades take you about fifteen feet down to the beach. A parking spot opened up and I pulled in.

For a photographer, Thalia Street Beach is great. The surfers aren’t very far out. My 300mm lens was marginally too long! The beach is smooth sand.

Overcast skies. Temperatures in the upper 60s. With my sweatshirt on and shoes off, I waded in. The water was cool, but not enough to be a problem.

Just going calf deep in water got me fifteen feet closer to the action. Then one big waved ran up my thighs. I pulled the keys and cellphone from my pocket before they were injured and became a little less aggressive.

There were 15 to 20 surfers and an equal number of spectators on the beach this afternoon. The vibe is very casual. People don’t stumble onto this beach. It’s well hidden.

Now it’s my spot too.

All the photos are clickable for a larger view.

Surf City Sunset


Until I moved here I had no idea Huntington Beach was Surf City. It is. I’ve been to HB a few times already, always with my camera. This afternoon it was me, “Clicky” and a bag full of lenses.

Over the past few days the forecast has pointed toward swells from a mid-Pacific storm hitting the coast. They wouldn’t be giants, but this winter has been disappointing to SoCal surfers.

“Isn’t it a little late,” Helaine asked? I was leaving around 4:00 PM.

IMG_1878The idea was to combine a little surf photography with sunset and whatever else I could find. I went to the beach unprepared! I was wearing jeans and sneakers. Somehow, the walking across the sand and into the ocean part hadn’t clicked. I ended up barefoot with my cuffs rolled up.

I like the vibe at HB. The whole beach area has a friendly feel with people of every shape, size and color.

The photo at the top of this entry is a 14 shot panorama. It was stitched together in the computer. Panoramas are very wide angle shots.

IMG_2019As I was repositioning myself near the base of the pier I walked by two girls. One was jumping while the other was trying to take a cellphone shot. I asked if I could give it a try.

I tried first without a light, but the contrast between the sky and her was too much. The finished photo uses the flash on the camera. I can’t remember the last time it was used.

Click the photo to see a larger version.

The temperature was mild and the beach stayed crowded as the Sun dipped behind Santa Catalina Island. The real show begins after sunset as the sky cycles through its colors until the clouds turn a fiery red.

And it’s January.


The Foxes Play Tour Guide

There are reasons tourists go where tourists go. Their chosen spots offer a concentrated experience in a little time. Forget nuance. Tourists want it all now!

Helaine and I live in Irvine. It’s near LA. It’s not LA! It’s a nice place to live, not a tourist destination.

With that in mind we headed north to Los Angeles with my niece Melissa and her husband Mark. Time was short. Their honeymoon flight to Fiji would take off with or without them.

First stop: Hollywood. Please feel free to say it as the American Idol judges would… as in, “You’re going to Holly-wuuuud!!!”

The corner of Hollywood and Highland is within walking distance of Stef’s apartment. How could we not go?

Once upon a time Hollywood was sold as the center of movie making. Today sound stages and studios are spread out. Lots of movies and TV shows looking to save money are made outside California. I’m not sure what tourists expect to see when they arrive?

As is the case in Times Square, a large part of the local commerce is centered around costumed characters who pose for tips and stores selling t-shirts and tsotchkes.

Our next stop was Neptune’s Net, just past the Ventura County line on the Pacific Coast Highway (which no one here ever says–it’s the PCH). Neptune’s Net is a seafood stand. It attracts lots of bikers, day trippers and those who remember it from a show starring Olsen Twins.

We chowed down, then crossed six lanes of PCH and climbed down a hill to get to the ocean. It’s a surfing beach. I brought a long lens!

We’d gotten to this end of Malibu by driving up the Ventura Freeway then through some twisting canyon roads. My passengers weren’t thrilled about a stomach sickening repeat, so I turned south and hugged the coast. More traffic. Fewer curves.

We stopped at the Rosenthal Wine Bar and Patio. As the designated driver (and photographer) I headed to the beach while everyone else sampled wine. More surfers for me and some very nice views toward Santa Monica and beyond.

By this time it was getting late. We headed inland on Sunset, taking a very brief detour to see the homes in “The Flats” neighborhood of Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive.

Heading down Wilshire we passed what we think was the premier for the new Jake Gyllenhaal, Hugh Jackman movie. Did anyone in the car see either star? Maybe. Let’s just say I won’t dispute any stories.

Stef was in charge of delivering our charges to the airport, so Helaine and I said goodnight then headed through a mid-evening crush of traffic to the OC.

It’s our first SoCal experience shuttling tourists. I’m hoping we passed the test.

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Shooting The Surfers in Malibu

I crossed the PCH and set up shop on the beach at Cross Creek State Park. A few dozen surfers were catching the waves.

Today is Stef’s birthday! Let the celebration begin. We started by heading to Malibu for lunch at Neptune’s Net (actually just north of the line in Ventura County). Then we headed south to Cross Creek for Stef/Helaine/Jenna shopping and Geoff shooting!

I crossed the PCH and set up shop on the beach at Cross Creek State Park. A few dozen surfers were catching the waves.

I was surprised by their ages. I think of surfers as teens and twenty somethings. These were mainly grown-ups, guys in their 30s, 40s and even 50s!

Here are some of my better shots.

HD Surf HERO Cam Is Much Too Cool

Making videos like this is almost worth risking life and limb and the near death experience that will surely follow!

I do not surf. However, making videos like this is almost worth risking life and limb and the near death experience that will surely follow! A small $269 HD Surf HERO camera is suctioned to the end of the board. The video is recorded in high def digitally with no tape or moving parts!

It should be noted most people if given the chance would opt for a telephoto lens. This video is what it is only because the HD Surf HERO goes the other way with a very wide angle lens, the opposite of telephoto. A wide angle lens is often a much more versatile choice for photography and video.

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