Wednesday, December 31, 2008

DAD, Do we have to check the surf again?!?!?!

My obsession with surfing in our fickle NY conditions can at times put undue strain on the family. I snapped this pic of my daughter, Avery, shortly after I informed her that we were taking yet another trip to the beach to check the waves. She looks a bit perturbed as I am sure she is fully aware that it will be flat or blown out yet again! I believe her comment at the time this shot was taken was, "Can't you just check the cams' on the computer?".

In all honesty we do manage to get a good bit of quality time in on our frequent jaunts to the beach, or one of the many surfshops we frequent. It's amazing how offers/bribes for special cookies or Italian ices, increase her willingness to accompany her old man!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The One that got away- 9'8 Lance Carson Powerglide

Well, I still have not fully recovered from my "seller's remorse". The above board is a one that I should have never let go. I acquired it in a trade and surfed it some, but at the time it felt like too much board for me. I wish I held on to it for those classic knee high loggin days, but I sold it to acquire a more all around functional Cooperfish Malibu Foil II. The board went to a guy out our way who true rides heavy old school logs the way they are supposed to be ridden. He had a "cat who ate the mouse" grin on when he picked it up, and he also facilitated the my cooperfish order. He eventually sold it to someone who cracked the fin of in the shorey- what a shame! I must say that the coop I acquired as a result of the deal is my favorite board and will never leave the quiver, but I should funded the purchase in another way.
The Carson Powerglide was shaped by Lance himself and it was a beast with the widest and fatest tail I have ever seen on a longboard. 9'8 in length and just shy of 24 inches wide, a true trim freight train with plenty of stability for tip time. triple 8 oz volan top and serious stringer work. Big ballbearing 50/50 rails. Below is an email I received from Lance. I really appreciated where he is coming from when he speaks of modern board production as opposed to the shape one board a day mentality. Lance is keeping it real for sure, hopefully he's back in production soon.
"Hello Jack...
Thanks for your e-mail. As you can see on the attached original order form, the surfboard that you asked about was originally made about a year ago for Heritage Surf Shop in New Jersey. At that time, my boards were being glassed at Aqua Tech Glassing in Marina Del Rey. Even though I've been shaping at Tyler's factory for the last year and a half, he wasn't equipped to glass my boards. But as of this autumn, Tyler has expanded his facility. And now my boards are being glassed by Tyler. I'm doing ALL my own hand computer blanks. Most older labels such as Jacobs and Bing that you see in the shops today are all computer shaped blanks that are finished up by a younger generation of business people. They look nice but they're not the real deal! Most of the 60's surfboard makers have either passed away or retired. And the new guys are simply in it for the money. That's why I only shape one board a day, just as we did in the old days. I'm not that stoked on the modern day approach to surfboard making. So rather that try to compete, I simply went back to my roots. And Tyler is one of the few newer guys that appreciate and respect the history. That's why I'm working at his place.
Again... thanks for your e-mail. And I hope that the 9' 8" Power Glide works well for you. Keep Surfing...LANCE CARSON"
Oh by the way, Grannis's shots of Lance at the bu' are about a cool as they get.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

s-decks on ice

I took this shot after a really fun but chilly hull session. It was shot using an old Kodak brownie hawkeye camera. The lens quality is unique in that the resulting images have a somewhat subtle tonal range.

While displacement hull surfboards on the Northeast coast seem to get a bad rap; I never seem to leave the beach after a hull-session without a smile on my face. This can also be said for a few of my surfing friends who are obsessed with the design. I am continually amazed at how fast these boards are and how in-sync the boards are with the wave. This combination of speed and synchronicity make for a highly engaged surfing experience. People who get the hull vibe, get addicted quick!

Ever since I have gotten into the design, I have been somewhat obsessed with learning more about the evolution of the design and people's overall impressions of the design. I want to thank Brian Hilbers and Greg Liddle for being so patient in answering my emails containing questions regarding all things hull. I also appreciate all the info KP and the sways "post hull pics" thread has provided me. There stoke is seriously contagious.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Solitary Moments

Winter brings the occasional opportunity to surf in an isolated, quiet space which often creates a more connected/dynamic experience. These solitary circumstances also allow for the opportunity to process both the mental and emotional material present in one's consciousness thereby allowing for a refreshed look at the world around us.

I grabbed this shot one afternoon when it was sleeting with hard off-shore winds. The negative was not exposed properly due to the limitations of the camera, but I liked the overall effect. I was especially intrigued by the halo effect around the guy who was heading out to the surf. It was almost as if the camera was detecting a heat source in a vast, cold landscape.

The surf happened to be rather good this afternoon, but an intense drift left moments of aloneness in the line-up.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

the film clip that flipped the switch

By far the most influential film segment for me is from Andrew Kidman's "Litmus". Derek Hynd riding a 5'8 frye fish at J-bay, absolutely the most incredibly stylistic surfing I have seen. The cinematography, music and surfing all work so well together. The viewer is continually transfixed by the endless possibilities of the expressiveness of Derek's surfing. Big ups to this Kidman & Hynd collaboration.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Bitter Sweet Season

I am overjoyed by the people I have in my life. My wife, Pjay and daughter, Avery have given meaning to my life that I was unaware of. It is with great excitement, and gratitude that I celebrate the Christmas season with them and others in my family. Christmas with a 5- year old is incredibly special, given the magic of Santa Claus and the abundant enthusiasm only a child can display.
Despite this incredible energy, Christmas Eve proves to be a particularly difficult time for me, as it was nine years to the day that I lost my brother, Tom. The season, somewhat painfully brings to life all of the incredible memories of him and the true essence of his spirit. The reality is both comforting and difficult at the same time. I miss Tom greatly but it is evident that his spirit lives on within me and the people he has touched.
I think of him often when surfing and only wish that more sessions were to be had. I still can recall the last time I surfed with him and my other brother, Martin. Lots of laughs and good times on a day with a decent groundswell, a nice sunset and favorable winds. This memory and many others like it give me comfort!
I wish everyone a Merry and Mindful Christmas!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Evolution of a Quiver: A Diary of a Mad Man!!

The evolution of my current quiver has been a long and admittedly insane process. Over the last several years, I have been in an almost constant buy, sell, trade mentality (much to my wife's displeasure, I might add). I guess to some degree, I got caught up with different hypes, but I believe as my surfing has slowly evolved or crept forward, my tastes and sensibilities have also changed. My current quiver is as follows:
1) 10'1 Cooperfish Nosedevil

2) 9'8 Cooperdesign Malibu Foil II

3) 7'6 Fineline Microant II (displacement hull)

4) 6'6 Liddle Smoothie M3P (displacement hull)

5) 6'6 Rainbow Pavel Speed Dialer (quad fish)

6) 6'2 Swift Movement Mabile Twin Keel Fish

I am quite pleased to say that at this point, I have no strong desires to get rid of any of my current boards and I do not really need any additions (except maybe a vintage log rider and an andrieni hull, and a.....). I will list, with a degree of embarassment, the insanity of my quest that eventually got me to this current line-up. Most boards were either sold to purchase new additions or trades occurred. The overwhelming majority of boards purchased were used. These boards were exchanged over a 5 year period.

I believe I am "all set" at this point, completely "done, for now" Oddly enough I know I am not alone in this endeavor as I have seen many surfing friends go through similar benders. Here is the progression of my "disease":

6'4 channel Island Thruster>9'4 Natural Art Log> 6'10 Takayama Flo Egg> Ricky Carrol 2+1 Egg> 9'6 Takayama NR2>9'4 Vintage Hannon Log> 6'4 Rainbow Pavel Twin Keel>6'7 Kane Garden Twin Keel> Greg Noll 9'6> 10' Joel Tudor Nuuhiwa Noserider>9'8 Lance Carson Powerglide>9'8 Cooperdesign Malibu Foil> 9'2 Vintage Hansen>9'8 Bing Silverspoon>10'1 Cooperfish Nosedevil>6' Mandala triple bump quad> 6'2 Walker Twin Keel> 6'4 Rainbow Pavel Speed Dialer> 5'10 Kane Garden Twin Keel> 6'2 Swift Movement Twin Keel>7'6 Vintage Hull>7'6 Fineline Microant II> 6'6 Liddle M3P Smoothie> 6'6 Rainbow Speeddialer.

I feel better now that i have gotten that off my chest!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Frothy the Snowman

My brother (AKA FROTH) and his Hess and Mandala. Amped to get warm in the Ocean. Daybreak, snowy and cold. Fun waves yesterday, wind stayed off shore for the entire day and the swell stuck around.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Daybreak-Winter Sunrise

This photograph was taken just shortly after sunrise last week using a diana+ with tmax 400 film. These lo-fi cameras are really sensitive to differing lighting conditions. I have found that this camera performs best when used in warm & soft light conditions. I really dig the frothy waterline and the reflections coming of the wet sand.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cape St. Francis: Revisited

From time to time, I'd like to comment on surf film clips that have impacted/inspired me. Obviously, Endless Summer is a classic, and in my opinion the film's climax was the segment on Cape Saint Francis. This might be my favorite all time surf scene. I re-discovered the movie after I got back into surfing (after way too long of an absence). The film in general and this scene in particular, totally got me obsessed with the traditional longboarding aesthetic.

This is my take on the opening shots of the segment. While not shot with lo-fi equipment(holga etc), the technique was extremely lo-fi. This is a film still that I took while watching the movie with a cheapo digital cam. The shot was then bastardized by my hack photoshop skills- I kind of like it in a cheesy, "watercolor" kind of way. I hope Browne, Hynson and August won't mind my interpretation.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chasing the Flow- Perhaps why we surf.

I am continually thinking of a "reason" as to why I surf. The one answer I repeatedly come to relates to the connectedness to the moment I experience when surfing.

Flow is the psychology of optimal experience that articulated by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi along with Martin Seligman, Ph.D., is one of the founders of the positive psychology movement. Positive Psychology has gained considerable attention over the past decade in both the theoretical and empirical psychological literature. Flow is the phenomenological state that emerges when an individual is in a state of complete involvement in a given activity. When in the state of flow, the individual ceases to be “detached” from the given experience and for the period, the only relevant reality that exists is in the given moment being experienced. It has been argued that Flow experiences help to integrate the self because when in the state of deep concentration, consciousness is unusually well ordered. Thoughts, intentions, feelings and all the senses are focused on the same goal. Experience is in harmony. These benefits are highly consistent with gains noted from meditative states. When the flow episode is over, one feels more integrated or whole than prior to the experience, not only internally but also with respect to the individual’s engagement with others and to the world in general.

How does it feel to be in "the flow"? Does this sound like surfing to you?
1) Completely involved, focused, concentrating - with this either due to innate curiosity or as the result of training
2) Sense of ecstasy - of being outside everyday reality
3) Great inner clarity - knowing what needs to be done and how well it is going
4) Knowing the activity is achievable, that is that the skill sets are adequate, and the activity elicits neither anxiety or boredom
5) Sense of serenity - no worries about self, feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of ego - afterwards feeling of transcending ego in ways not thought possible
6) Timeliness - thoroughly focused on present, don't notice time passing
7) Intrinsic motivation - whatever produces "flow" becomes its own reward

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ahh.. It's Winter time again!!!

Surfing the North Atlantic in the winter months can evoke a range of rather strong emotions, which frequently coincide with the overall physical experience. Conditions can vary from quiet, light offshore winds with elegantly peeling lines to harsh winds, heavy swells and strong currents. The quality of the light can vary greatly from warm golden sunrise/sunset hues to an infinite array of grey tones. The quality of the light often make the experience more intense in its own way. While the water is often intensely cold, the quality of the inter-personal interactions in the line-up also seem to shift with the overall mood becoming more contemplative and more communal as opposed to competitive.

The last week has proved to mirror the ever-changing conditions of the North Atlantic in the winter and has made me again appreciate this special season for surfers in the Northeast. While certain aspects of the winter surfing experience remain difficult or annoying, the overall experience far out ways the discomforts ensued.

This photograph was taking at sunrise on 12/13, the winds were howling out of the northwest, the air temp was in the low 30's and the wind chill was in the low teens but the swell was maintaining its shape and the spray of the lip was enhancing the dramatic quality of the morning.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Into the light- Holga Image

I exposed this shot one sunday afternoon recently, the light was real harsh, but the waves were of good quality. Shortly before I took this picture, a newbie got caught in a rip current on the inside and ended up being dragged into the jetty. She ended up banging up her funshape pretty bad, but luckily was she was uninjured. I am always surprised how so many people under-estimate the ocean and over-estimate their ability to handle the conditions. This day was consistently several feet overhead with a strong drift and alot of water moving around on the inside. Clearly not a day for a novice.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

lo-fi photography: What & Why

What: Lo-fi photography is a style of photography generally using poor equipment, such as toy cameras or pinhole cameras, for stylistic effect. It is often considered a reaction to the perceived ease of creating technically perfect photos in the digital age. Generally the emphasis is on using film, rather than digital technology.

Why: For me using lo-fi photo equipment is an incredibly freeing experience photographically. It allows for spontaneity, impulsivity, and happy accidents. The images produced can look ragged while maintaining a simplistic beauty. Moreover, the images often retain a post-modern and pictorialist quality. Images from these lo-fi cameras attempt to resolve the rather large discrepancy that exists between the two artistic aesthetics

The above is my current "quiver" Diana+with pinhole option, Rollieflex TLR 2.8 Planar lens (not lo-fi, but definitely lo-tech), Brownie Hawkeye, and Holga 120s with flash option (right to left)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Greg Noll 9'6 Chopstick Fin- Not all "china boards" are created equal

I briefly had this incredible board, but I ended up trading it to acquire two more functional noseriders. The board was an great example of a classic Greg Noll longboard. I wish I could of kept her, but the board now hangs on a wall in New Jersey. My brother insists I have been cursed ever since I got rid of it. Sometimes I believe him!!
9'6" Figure 8 stringer, Chopstick in the fin, wooden tailblock, classic cartoon lam and all original colors.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sunrise Pinhole Image

I took this photograph on the first really cold day of the year. I was hoping for some small glassy waves to longboard but the ocean was placid. This pinhole image really reminds me of one of the early pictorialist photographs. I have always appreciated those early masters of photography. This was the first time I ever captured "lens flare" with a lens-less camera.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

surf log remembered

I was just thinking back to memorable sessions i have had over the last few years. One came to mind from 8/24/05, it was not a particularly remarkable day as it relates to surf conditions, however I was riding an old early 60's Hannon pig, the morning was crisp and it was uncrowded. Here is an excerpt from my long since forgotten surf log.
"So infrequently are we able to express the simple joy of surf-riding and our love of the ocean to our non-surfing friends and family members. Often in trying to relate stories or experiences to these non-surfing significant others, words fall very short of fully capturing the true nature of our experience and the sheer beauty of the moment to moment awareness required when wave riding. These experiences can be both awe-inspiring and meditative in quality. Today was one such day for me. Although the waves were extremely small, my experience in the ocean this morning will stay with me for some time. Perfectly groomed micro-waves (knee high), crisp off shore breezes, a beautiful sunrise and a relatively empty break. While most people probably walked away from the morning surf check frustrated with another day of flatness, I was enjoying the session immensely. Riding the front third of an early 60's log proved to be the call, as any other board would most probably have proved to be extremely frustrating. While catching some of these perfectly simple and elegant waves, I also had the pleasure of observing a father teaching his 10- year son the joys of surfing. The boy had a blissful look on his face and his dad's enthusiasm was making the experience a life long memory for the kid. All and all, a beautiful morning and reminder, as to why I surf."

Monday, December 8, 2008

Josef Sudek

From time to time, I will comment on photographers that are both intriguing and have influenced me. One such artist is Joseph Sudek. Sudek was born on March 17, 1896 and died September 15, 1976. Sudek was severely injured during World War I while fighting in the Austro-Hungarian Army. This injury ultimately resulted in the amputation of his left arm at the shoulder. It was not until after the amputation did his photography truly come to life.
Sudek is most often noted for his extensive photographic study of Prague however, my interest in his work is primarily confined to his garden, studio window and still life photographs. The bulk of this material was completed during the time he was confided to his studio as a result of the Nazi occupation of Prague during World War II. This work impresses as highly meditative all the while maintaining a quality of simplicity. His print quality is exceptional and his understanding of light unmatched.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I am often frustrated by my after-work surf checks, as more often than not, wind conditions have deteriorated as the day progressed. I am sure that many can relate to the disappointment felt when checking surf cams at work, all the time, slowly noting the changes in the ocean's texture. Fortunately, there are times when things do hold up. Here is one such afternoon.

Friday, December 5, 2008


While the act of surfing and the process of taking photographs vary greatly in the experience of physical sensations, I would argue that the acts do have a defining common point. Both pursuits require an attitude of bare attention and a high level of mindfulness. It is through this mental perspective that we truly open up to the continually changing qualities of our experiences, whether it be the ever changing dynamic experience of a wave-riding or the "seeing" of the subtle qualities of our visual landscape.