Friday, March 30, 2007

Stoner Photos

Continuing on with the photographic theme I came across this photo gallery (courtesy of Surfer Magazine) showcasing some of the work of Ron Stoner. There's that surname magic again. Or maybe it's voodoo because if you're doomed to act out a lifestyle synonymous with your surname then poor old Ron, who slid into drugs and depression, had the cards stacked against him from the start.

(PS - you can turn off the commentary by clicking on the audio tab in the frame and bring up the shots on the right hand side by clicking over the pics there)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Surfing Photography For Dummies

Long Board by LeRoy Grannis

Caught in time, and taken just over 40 years ago, this famous shot shows one Dewey Weber doing what he loved best. And with two webbed toes on each foot, could you have a more appropriate surname? No wonder he could swim like a fish. Dewey enjoyed his partying as much as his surfing and in the end the bottle did him in. His name lives on in the boards that still carry his name.

Hanging in there longer than old Dewey is the the high octane octogenarian LeRoy Grannis who snapped the photo. I picked up a book of LeRoy's photography in the Tate Gallery St.Ives that was sitting at the till and thumbed through it so long that I felt obliged to purchase it. Surf shots as good as they get.

Now clearly you have professional photographers, and you have amateurs. And then you have Beach Bum. But hope springs eternal and LeRoy's book had me cooking so it was onto Fistral South last Saturday. Having choked my last little Sony VC1 to death with sand from too many days at the beach, I'd splashed out on a Canon point and shoot and a waterproof casing.
As much as I enjoy a bit of self flagellation, I cannot endure looking at the results and you, dear reader, will certainly be spared.

Did I learn anything? Well, yes...

1. Wear one of those caps with the dorky looking peaks - it's going to cut down on glare so you have some chance of seeing what's in the viewfinder.
2. Don't try to balance the camera on a bodyboard when you're trying to ride a wave at the same time. In fact, don't take any kind of board out at all. A pair of fins would have served me better
3. Pick a day when the there's actually some waves.
4. Set up a small shrine to the likes of LeRoy and his ilk and chant "we're not worthy"

Surfing Photography for Dummies, is that out on Amazon yet?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Clean Beaches RIP?

Feels that way sometimes. Art courtesy of Banksy.

Containers, chemicals and garbage courtesy of the MSC Napoli.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Surf mats - jet propelled bodysurfing or a lot of hot air?

I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll ... blow up a surf mat? Mention inflatables and waves in the same breath and I'm picturing lifeguards paddling out after kiddies heading for the horizon. Equating surf mats with air beds is a cheap shot, but one the devotees are probably well used to. Anyway, I'm not sure you could call it a full blown (chortle, chortle) renaissance, but there seems to be a growing tide of interest in these "alternative" surf craft.
I've yet to see any evidence of them around Cornish coasts but I'm sure it's only a matter of time. There's clearly some passion out there for these puffed up products. Tips, techniques and feedback on the Neumatic Surf Mat as sold by Dale Solomonson are earnestly discussed in some detail here.
At around $350 / £180 each, I'm not sure that I'd want to splash out on something that comes with a puncture repair kit but over at Magic Seaweed they're flogging similar variants ranging from £18 - £80 quid. Still, that man George Greenough knows a thing or three about riding waves and he's been into these things for yonks.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Gorillas, Moonbags, Hangair & Hot Jugz

There is a connection here but if you spotted it straight off, I suggest you get out more. I’m talking about wetsuits - transportation and care of. The old steamer is undoubtedly one of man’s finest inventions allowing wave riders maximum ocean time without cold water induced testicle retraction. However, you gotta lug the neoprene around, squeeze yourself into it, peel yourself out of it and take at least a modicum of “aftercare” advice, which in my case means sticking a hose down the arms and legs after a session.

I use a West Surfing rucksack that I got for next to nothing in the sales that has a detachable wet bag and lots of little clip points and pockets for bottle openers and other essentials.

But when beach time means family time – that’s five wetsuits and I have to upscale to the mighty Gorilla Tub. This is a tough but flexible tub almost big enough to have a bath in. Marketed to builder’s merchants as something handy to mix cement in, I picked mine up in a garden centre. Toss in all the suits after a day at the beach and then rinse en-masse. Double as a temporary aquarium for all those crabs and critters the Nippers pick up on the beach.

The Frostfire Moonbag is another way to go – “a multi functional bag designed for easy changing in and out of your wetsuit. When opened, the bag becomes a mat and is laid down on the ground while you change. Once changed; you leave your wetsuit on the mat and pull the drawstring to create the bag.” Wow – just like magic, eh?

And only ‘cause I love the name, how about getting your Hot Jugz out – the portable shower of course - when you need some pampering.

Finally, take a coat hanger, bolt on a hair dryer and you have the Hangair – a device that “reduces drying time by 70%” and eliminates wetsuit “funk”. I’ll be sticking with the washing line. I like a bit of funk.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Trip Back In Time With The Crystal Voyager

Warning! This may require very long hair, a kaftan and something hallucinogenic but if you want to tune in to the "spiritual side of surfing" you may find yourself ordering the Crystal Voyagerlike this Beach Bum did. These aren't my claims but those of the producer-director. Mind you, these days, there's folks out there likely to claim there's a "spiritual side" to arse scratching.

The movie hangs around the activities of one George Greenough. "George is a living legend and unique icon in the surf world best known for his innovative surf photography, surfboard design and ingeniously conceived and constructed devices including everything from wind generators to hand-made air mattresses and blue water fishing boats".

He must like his Pink Floyd 'cause the DVD features their Echoes track from the seriously spacey Meddlealbum. Gotta be worth a look, right? (Mar 21st update: the original clip from the DVD I'd posted here was whipped off You Tube - so here's the main man chatting about a tube he caught making the movie.)