Pern's Ponderings

Check here periodically for my musings on photography. In this space, we'll explore how I achieved particular photographs, tips and tricks to get the most out of your camera or even just my thoughts on the world at large. 

Riding High Among the Waves

Two surfers catch waves on a frigid January morning in Narragansett, R.I.

I like to keep my camera with me as often as possible, but sometimes the hustle and bustle of daily life make it easy to leave your gear behind as you walk out the door.

On a chilly January morning earlier this year, I drove my wife to a local social event and, as we arrived at our destination - the iconic Towers of Narragansett - I saw the surf was up with 6- to 8-foot waves. There were dozens of surfers wearing their warmest winter wet suits hoping to catch a few rides. 

In the rush to get out of the house on time, I had forgotten my camera, but this was too good of an opportunity. It was high tide and the waves were breaking close enough to shore that I knew I could get some good shots with my 300mm Canon lens. 

I hustled home, got my gear and returned to the area known as Monahan's Dock, one of southern R.I.'s most popular surfing spots. 

I got some terrific shots of the wave jockeys in action, but none that truly stood apart from others I've taken. I briefly turned my attention to a bird that had landed nearby on the sea wall and clicked a few shutters in a portrait (vertical) orientation. 

As I glanced back at the water, I saw two surfers chasing consecutive waves and I knew I had a split second to get "the shot." I began firing off the shutter as I shifted the camera back to a landscape orientation. 

The surfers paddled long enough before popping up on their boards to allow me to compose my shot and capture both in the same frame. The whole process probably took a second and a half, but fortunately, I was able to see it developing just in time to get my camera on them. 

I asked around if anyone knew who they were - I thought they'd like a copy of the final print - but none of the nearby onlookers knew them. 

With that, I packed up my gear and breathed a sigh of relief that I had gone home to get it. I would have been kicking myself if I had missed out on one of my favorite shots because I rushed out of the house without my camera. 

by Brian Pernicone