2004 Year End Review
The Big Picture
of the Year.
You've got to respect
Josh Hoyer, a guy who has enormous talent in the water, but
doesn't compete on a major pro tour. Instead however he works
hard at trying new innovate maneuvers, pushing the envelope
of what is possible on a surfboard. Most people think of him
as primarily a small wave acrobatic. This photo however silenced
those that might have thought big wave surfing was not part
of his repertoire. The above wave was one of the bigger waves,
on the biggest day of 2004. When the wave showed up at "The
Point" it formed into a massive unmakable wall of water.
Hoyer however went for it anyway, knowing there was no chance
of riding it out, and in the process added the status of big
wave charger in the minds of his contemporaries.
Shooting surf photos
from the top of a ladder looks stupid, and I'm sure many a pro
surf photographer considers me a kook for doing it. However
the hurricane that produced this swell was close, resulting
in consistent short interval surf that stacked up behind one
another. Shooting from the beach at eye level would have resulted
in the bottom trough of the wave, and perhaps even the surfer,
being totally obliterated from view by the mound of whitewater
in front of them. The ladder allows the camera to shoot from
a position above and over the preceding wave, thus obtaining
a shot of the entire wave and surfer with unobstructed view.
This photo proves that while shooting from a ladder seems ridiculous,
it is sometimes functional.
Surfline picked up
on Newport's swell and ran an article, along with this photo
and a link to NewportSurfShots.com. This led to introductions
and dialogue between this site, and Surfline's editorial department.
Additionally it resulted in people from every corner of the
globe following the link to NewportSurfShot.com, many of whom
still frequent the site to see the local surfing action... Translate
that to mean people from places other than Newport are checking
out photos of you ripping.
So while the shot looks
like another one of my poorly exposed photos, it was successful
on other levels... and for that reason is NewportSurfShots.com's
2004 photo of the year.
The Big Thump
In early spring of
2004, Newport received it's first big south of the season. A
double overhead Southern Hemi. These long interval swells end
up being really walled throughout the jetties, and make pretty
boring photos, consisting of people just racing down the line...
I ended up shooting into back lit 42nd St lefts, as it had the
best shape in town. Some guy comes out of the water and tells
me that CJ Hobgood is at the Wedge. That I didn't know with
all my cell phone contacts, that a top pro was out at the Wedge,
and this guy while sitting in the water did, is pretty bad of
me. Needless to say I raced off to see if I could get some shots.
Running out to the beach at the Wedge I heard a loud roar from
the crowd, and arrived near the waters edge just as CJ was getting
out to leave. Damn, "what happened, what I'd miss"
I was asking everyone. Well I think I was the only surf photographer
in Southern California that missed CJ taking off on the set
of the morning, and pulling into and out of a picture perfect
As I set up, the guy
above who is from Dana Point, was sitting on the beach looking
like he and his little wafer thin beach break board didn't belong
there. Surprisingly he got up, walked over to the jetty, waded
out, and shoved into a small waist high piece of foam that had
rebounded off the jetty. The nothing little piece of whitewater
pushed him side ways into a wave that grew bigger, and bigger,
and bigger, until it was nearly triple overhead. And when the
now monster of a wave reached it's maximum size and power, the
shallow bottom fell out, sending him and his little board backwards
over the falls.... Hands down, NewportSurfShots.com's worst
wipe shot of 2004..
Big Offshore Day
Monday in Sept. I dragged myself out of bed, and down to Lowers
to shoot the finals of the Boost Mobile. I hate shooting contests,
but I hoped if I got some good images, Happy Magazine might
us them for their contest feature. The Happy guys have been
extremely supportive of NewportSurfShot.com's program throughout
the year, and I am forever grateful!! A
solid south filled in throughout the day, and I shot away from
the top of my dumb ladder, bummed I wasn't back in Newport,
where I knew the swell would be filling in nicely.
shoot more than one day a week, so the next day I was looking
forward to getting some surf in Newport. Early the next morning
my daughter wakes me crying that she is afraid of the loud wind.
What wind I thought, there's not supposed to be any strong south
wind! I look out and it's howling offshore! Because I wasn't
planning on shooting, I hadn't recharged any camera batteries,
and was hoping that at least one had some juice. One did, and
I was out the door. The surf throughout Newport was fricken
epic... and it being the first surf class for NHHS of the year,
the school crew was on it, and getting shacked. Everyone was
getting pitted, in fact all you had to do was make it to your
feet, turn, and you'd be guaranteed a deep barrel. A lot of
guys were also breaking their boards, and then combing the waters
edge looking for the front half, which more often than not,
had been blown back out to sea.
shooting all the front lit angles from the jetty, when I caught
a glimpse of a big set to my left. I wasn't set up for a backlit
shot, but I changed what settings I could as I turned. The anonymous
surfer paddled hard for the wave, and somehow got over the windblown
ledge. Later I heard Nick J. was paddling to the outside of
him, and had to pull back and let him go. Once over the ledge
the guy dropped in and turned up into a legitimate stand up
barrel. As he was coming out of it, the thing started throwing
in front of him again, and he drove through that section also,
barely getting clipped as he came out onto the shoulder. He
then immediately threw his fist in the air and claimed it. I
was jumping up and down on the jetty like a kangaroo, claiming
it for him also. I've had so many people ask who that was, but
I have no idea. I've heard his name might be Ted, but I'm unsure.
Anyway, if whoever it was is out there, shoot me an email, I'd
like to burn to a cd the best sequence NewportSurfShots.com
shot in 2004 for you.
Surfing Goes Big
Over the past few years
there's obviously been more women in the water surfing, particularly
during the warmer months. But in 2004 there was a noticeable
change. It was the first year that as soon as the water and
air started cooling down, the women didn't pack it up, stop
surfing, and wait it out until conditions became more desirable.
During 2004 and our current winter, there's far more girls out
surfing in the cold winter elements than ever before. Additionally
there are younger and younger groups of girls riding up and
down the boardwalk with boards in search of waves, and sitting
along side the guys in the lineup. In 2005 Newport women will
have one of their own, local womens surfer Erica H., joining
the WQS. Look for her to do well on tour, and be a great role
model for local women surfers.
forecasters predicted a south swell in the 20ft range for Labor
Day in 2004, I like many others rearranged my entire holiday
weekend schedule. Sat. morning "The Point" was barely
headhigh, and everyone in town had a different prediction on
when the swell would arrive. On Sat. afternoon the forecast
from the leading surf forecaster changed, and was stating the
swell was over estimated, and would be a fraction of the size.
Soon after I got this news, someone from my work called, asking
if I'd work that evening until 7am the next morning. I accepted,
as I figured the surf wouldn't be that great the next day. That
night was busy, and I worked throughout the evening. As I walked
out of work the following morning, I flipped on my cell phone,
and noticed I'd already received 12 calls. I knew then that
the swell must have hit. I ran to my truck, as calls were pouring
in, telling me "The Point" was big, perfect, and the
best it had been in years. My truck is only a couple years old,
and I've never had a problem with it, but when I turned the
key it wouldn't start!! After a short time I gave up trying
to get it going and went and borrowed a colleague's car, and
then raced home. I made it to
"The Point" around 9am, where because of the closure
of the beaches north of 48th st., due to a sewage spill, the
crowd was out of control. People were dropping in on any and
everyone and I still can't figure out how no one was run over
by someone's else's board, and severely injured. I shot until
the light went bad, drove the 40 minutes back to my car, got
it started, and then raced back to shoot the afternoon session.
I had something to attend that evening, and then after having
been awake for over 36 hours, I tried to edit everything, and
get it up on the site. My wife found me asleep at my computer
within an hour. Without a doubt that was the biggest swell of
2004, and the one swell of the year that NewportSurfShots.com
wasn't able to get all the photos shot up to the site until
The Big Lens
Early in 2004, I heard
the surf magazines were accepting digital images. I knew that
if I wanted to get my images of surfers photographed in Newport
into the magazines, I would have to make the move up to a high
priced lens. I wasn't sure however if I wanted to make that
kind of commitment to surf photography. I thought it over for
a while, talked it over with a few people, and then decided
to go for it. Since the purchase in 2004, NewportSurfShots has
been lucky to have landed photos, articles, and ads of local
surfers in all 4 surf magazine publications, plus various other
projects. NewportSurfShots.com goal in 2005 is to continue to
shoot from the beach... but to also start producing images from
The Big Dump
doubt the biggest thing in Newport's surf community in 2004
was the River Jetty Dredging Project. Many believed that the
city wouldn't actually allow the Army Corps of Engineers to
bury the jetties with river silt, and thus destroy Newport's
surf. I too was skeptical that local government would let it
happen, until I went to the city council meeting about the project.
It was there that I heard the assistant city manager say the
jetties should be filled in because the beaches needed the sand.
I heard a councilmen then give a ridiculous photo presentation
of the horrible flooding that might occur if it wasn't done.
I heard the ACOE biologist admit that needles, glass and other
sharp objects could theoretically end up being dumped on the
beach. I heard the contractor say it was their decision to dump
on the beach, and not offshore (because it was cheaper), that
they had already started the work, and everything was proceeding
on schedule. And then I listened to the ACOE kingpin say the
money had already been given to the contractor, it was a done
deal, and there was really nothing anyone, including the city,
could do to stop it.
a couple weeks NewportSurfShots.com became a community activist
site, and a steering committee to stop the dumping was formed.
We worked hard to understanding the issues involved in the project,
and tried to get the word out to the residents, the media and
the surf industry about the issue. As Surflines Shaun Collins
noted in an email that I distributed, it would have destroyed
the surf in Newport for a couple years, maybe even longer. In
the end, it was the community outcry, the negative media, our
alley councilmen Rosansky, and our environmental attorney's
clever maneuvering that buried the project instead of the jetties.
The Big Winter
surf Blackies regularly hope, pray, and patiently wait for a
giant short interval windswell to appear. It's the one time
the place produces any real waves. This was one of only a couple
days in 2004, were Blackies broke big. This beast was the largest
wave I shot in Newport all of last winter. When it came roaring
out of the ocean towards Adam at Blackies I was elated, because
I knew he would go. But because of the lens I was using, I had
to manually focus the shot, and was fearful that it would be
out of focus. Luckly somehow the photo came out ok. I'm glad
because screwing up a shot of the wave of the winter would have
been a blow it.
And that was
some of the best of 2004
ya out there in 2005...