Photo Issue Opener 4-4

CHANCE. Like a winning hand of cards, good photos arrive at a magazine in random spurts. They could be sent in a shipment traveling the hard way via sweaty cargo planes from Indonesia or covered with frost from a late-night flight over the Arctic. Packages consisting of mangled cardboard covered with foreign return addresses and scribbled warnings of “Do Not Bend” and “Photos: Handle With Care!” Each box tells the story of the photos’ travels, and their contents reveal the latest chapter of each photographer’s life. As the photo editor looks at each box with his best poker face, the question remains: Will this be a bunch of slop, or a royal flush?

Our team of senior photographers is improving its chances of beating the odds with the help of today’s latest technology: Tom Carey’s sneaky double-flash predawn sessions at Salt Creek, Dave Troyer’s cross-processed fish-eye water shots, Jack English pushing the crap out of Scala black and white slide film to intensify the contrasts, and portraits shot by Brian Bielmann with his medium format Hasselblad. As a magazine, we’ve spent many hours filling trips, thousands of dollars buying photographic equipment, and tons of effort encouraging our photographers to get out there and capture that timeless moment, and we still have an ace or two up our sleeves.

The photos make their journey from the box, to the hands of the photo editor, to the table, and with some luck, into history. Eventually the deadline comes around and a final hand is chosen. The time has come to show our hand. We hope you enjoy the winnings.

Waterhousing

The waterhousing is a custom-made shell specifically produced to keep a camera dry for surf photography. Usually made of metal or plastic, most have clear plastic ports in front to allow interchangeable lenses. To take a shot, the camera body is specially wired to the handle to create a trigger-like function. Other water-housing options include pole cams (where a camera with a fifteen-millimeter lens sits atop a pole anywhere from one-and-a half to five feet long), flash housings (housings with built-in flashes), and telephoto lenses of 85 millimeters or larger.

Loupe

The loupe (pronounced “loop”) is a small magnifying glass used to inspect photos for sharpness. Designed to rest on the protective borders of slides, loupes come in varying powers, ranging from 2x to 32x. Because photos are sometimes enlarged to up to ten times their original size for publication, it’s only under magnification that a photo editor can tell if a particular image will reproduce well on the printed page.

Canon 300 mm f/2.8

Weighing in under six pounds (5.9 lbs. to be exact), the Canon EF 300 mm f/2.8 is the lens of the traveling surf photographer. When compared to the bulky Canon 600 mm f/4 and its suitcase-size protective casket, the 300 is like a slender reed, making it perfect for traveling in parts of the world where you don’t want to broadcast that you’re carrying 20,000-grands’ worth of camera gear. Used with or without a tripod, the 300 has the perfect telephoto power to shoot from a boat anchored in a channel. Versatile photographers like Brian Bielmann, Jeff Hornbaker, John Callaghan, and Aaron Chang have proven the 300 f/2.8 to be one of the quintessential surf-photography lenses.

developing canister and reel

After black-and-white film is exposed, it’s removed from its cartridge and carefully wound onto a reel in total darkness. The entire reel is placed in a stainless-steel canister with a special lid that blocks light, but lets developing chemistry in.

Agfa Scala

A professional black-and-white transparency film, Scala offers a great alternative to shooting color film in cloudy or low-light situations. Its push and pullability between ISO 100 and 1600 enables good latitude for varying light conditions. In publishing, it’s superior to standard black-and-white negative film, because the original positive image can be scanned as opposed to scanning a degrad, second-generation print from a negative.

Flash

The flash enables a surf photographer to shoot in virtually any light situation other than midday bright sun. It provides good versatility and control for special effects and freezing high-speed surfing with ultra-short bursts of light (1/30,000 of a second, for example).

light meter

Light meters take a lot of guesswork out of a photographer’s exposure settings-especially in tricky light situations. With the click of a button, an incident meter gives a water photographer safe exposure readings to use, or at least start from. It provides constant updates to a land photographer as lighting conditions change such as clouds moving in and out of a scene or the quickly changing light of sunrise and sunset.

pole-cam

The pole-cam is a water-housing with an elongated handle designed to give water photographers an alternative angle to a regular pistol-grip housing. Usually anywhere from a foot and a half to four feet long and combined with the wide-angle, fifteen-millimeter lens, its extra height gives the appearance of looking down on the subject or at equal height if the photographer is at the base of the wave.

swim fins

Swim fins are the equivalent of a life vest for any water photographer. Thanks to the extra propulsion they provide, photographers are able to swim fast without the use of their arms. This ability allows photographers to go against currents, follow their subjects, avoid set waves, dive deep, and make it to the outside-all with a heavy water housing in their hand.

Canon EOS 1V

The top-of-the-line 35mm camera, Canon’s EOS 1V is a huge leap forward for anyone thinking about becoming a serious surf photographer. Its die-cast aluminum and polycarbonate resin body make the 1V nearly impossible to wreck under any challenging weather conditions, and with 45 different multi-point auto-focusing options, you have the power to really nail down your subject while composing the photo the way you want to. Plus, if you attach the NP-E2 power booster, the 1V will shoot ten frames per second, enough to capture any sequence.

Fuji Velvia

Fuji Chrome Velvia is the most popular daylight film among surf photographers. It retains extremely fine grain and is loved for its beautiful blues and its ability to enhance color saturation. Velvia is always pushed one stop to increase contrast and free up faster shutter speeds, and when it’s shot in morning or evening light, it can’t be beat.

Canon 15 mm f/2.8

Known as the “fish-eye” for its super-wide-angle view-the lens can actually distort 180 degrees, allowing a photographer to get mere inches from his subject and still keep it in focus-the Canon “15” is the most popular lens among water photographers. Beautifully crafted with UD and Fluorite glass, and small enough to fit in your pocket, it has made names for lensmen like Dave Nelson and Eric Baeseman. The Canon 15 is standard-issue equipment for any water photographer.

weather radio

A small, handheld weather radio is a tool a photographer can use to figure out what the conditions are going to be like the next day or a few days down the line. They’re invaluable in tracking swells and forecasting pressure systems. As every photographer knows, sun and swell is what you’re looking for.

Tripod

A tripod is used as a stabilizer for a land-based camera. When leveled and positioned correctly, the tripod can be used to keep straight horizon lines in photos and also to steady the camera, as not to blur the image. Tripods are also used to lean on when the photographer gets bored.

slide projector

Light tables and loupes are great for checking clarity and sharpness in a photo, but in order to truly comprehend the glorious colors and size potential, you must project-slide project. By projecting the photo onto a wall you can get a clearer feeling of the photo’s quality on a larger scale. Another good aspect of the slide projector is that multiple people can view the photo at the same time, which is impossible on a light table.

Slide

A piece of plastic (or paper) used to hold a positive photographic transparency. The transparency is mounted for projection viewing. Slide film is generally preferred by professional photographers due to the ability to maintain the quality of the image when producing enlargements.

power booster

The power booster revolutionized the field of surf photography by eliminating the “click and wind” method of advancing film. An L-shaped camera attachment that automatically advances the film quickly and allows the camera to shoot approximately six frames per second. The power booster is responsible for the increasingly popular sequence shots in action photography.

light table

A flat box of varying size that provides a lighted surface used to illuminate slides and aid in their viewing. Because slide film is the recommended medium for submitting images for publication, the light table is an essential tool for photographers and photo editors alike. the photo at the same time, which is impossible on a light table.

Slide

A piece of plastic (or paper) used to hold a positive photographic transparency. The transparency is mounted for projection viewing. Slide film is generally preferred by professional photographers due to the ability to maintain the quality of the image when producing enlargements.

power booster

The power booster revolutionized the field of surf photography by eliminating the “click and wind” method of advancing film. An L-shaped camera attachment that automatically advances the film quickly and allows the camera to shoot approximately six frames per second. The power booster is responsible for the increasingly popular sequence shots in action photography.

light table

A flat box of varying size that provides a lighted surface used to illuminate slides and aid in their viewing. Because slide film is the recommended medium for submitting images for publication, the light table is an essential tool for photographers and photo editors alike.