Since the 2014 Mavericks surf competition is on for today, I’m reposting a favorite surfer photograph of mine from 2008, along with descriptive text. Enjoy!
Winter Surfers, Northern California. Between San Francisco and Santa Cruz, California. January 12, 2008. © Copyright 2008 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
Two surfers near the edge of the winter surf in central California near San Francisco. Black and white.
As I write this description a half dozen years after making the photograph it is the day of another Mavericks surf competition, and I remember distinctly the day I made the photograph and the experience of making it. The location is somewhat typical of the California Coast Highway, along with the road alternates between ascending along the edges of high coastal mountains and dropping down to small beaches where creeks and rivers enter the sea. This beach is one of those latter locations, in this case one I frequently visit when I photograph along the coast south of San Francisco.
My favorite time of year along this coast is the winter, and for a diversity of reasons. Contrary to the expectations of non-Californians, summer is not the most beautiful time on the coast. In summer the coast is frequently socked in by fog, and the clear days are so clear that there may be no clouds – a lovely thought for all but perhaps the photographers, who often wants more “interesting” conditions. In the winter the ocean can become a powerful force, with winds whipping the tops of huge waves as storms near and far stir things up. While the summer coast can seem benign, the winter coast can present us with scenes of tremendous, awe-inspiring power. But it can also be quiet and moody as it was on this day. Yes, the surf was running high (which is why the Mavericks surf competition was going on a few miles north of this spot on the day I made the photograph), but winter clouds muted the colors, the sounds of birds and water were everywhere. These two surfers walked quietly along the beach, seeming a part of this beautiful scene. (Revised description written January 24, 2014)
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.