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Bruce Anderson's Profile
I'm retired, so I have a considerable amount of time on my hands, and I enjoy spending some of it photographing the many very talented surfers who surf Steamer Lane, in Santa Cruz, California. I've been doing photography for about twenty years, now; I began with film cameras and then switched over to digital cameras about five years ago. I've been using a Pentax K-7 lately, and prior to acquiring that I had been using a Pentax K20D. My favorite lens for surfing photography is a Pentax 55-300mm. I try to make it over to Steamer Lane at least once a week or so; I found out long ago that the more often that you shoot, the higher the percentage of usable photographs you're going to come up with. When I'm shooting regularly my percentage of useful shots hovers around 50%; when I'm unable to shoot for a few weeks at a time, that figure drops down to a level of 15-20%. I began using a new camera a few days back, and although I'm not at all familiar with it, yet, I am pleased with the preliminary output. Winter has been very wet in Santa Cruz this year, and the opportunities for shooting the surfers over at Steamer Lane have been very limited, as a consequence. The weather has begun to improve, over the last few weeks; just in time to see the early spring slightly reduced swell levels arrive. In two more months the activity at Steamer Lane will be reduced to almost nothing; through late spring and all of the summer months there's very little upper level surfing around here; the problem, simply enough, is that the water can be virtually flat for days at a time. Things usually remain that way until mid-October, or so, when the activity begins to pick back up. Six or eight more weeks of shooting -- at the outside -- and then the tourists will begin flocking into the area. Summer has its own set of charms, in this area, but I am never really loathe to see it go, knowing that its absence ushers in the next season of surfing, and the highly anticipated, and very welcome opportunity to capture more surfing images. Last month I began shooting with a Canon 7D; it's a really nice piece of equipment, but I'm still in the process of learning all of its various attributes. Both the Pentax K20D and the K7 were very competent cameras (the most annoying aspect of the K20D being an intrusively loud shutter release), but the 7D is clearly superior to both of the Pentax models. For surfing photography, oddly enough, it has a feature that I really don't have a lot of use for: it has a high speed frame rate (at full resolution) of eight frames per second. That might seem like a good idea, but for my purposes, it doesn't really add anything at all to the experience of photographing surfers. When I track a surfing run, I have exactly in mind what it is that I want to capture from that run, as the surfer progresses down the wave. A good long run, especially one where the surfer is advancing in the direction of the camera, can produce three or four very good images, providing that the timing is just right. When I shoot a frame, I am always just a split second ahead of the surfer (who is always moving very fast), so to "compose" the shot in such a way that I get out of it the image that I am attempting to extract from the scene, I have to know what the next movement will produce. Anticipating that is in large part the source of the greatest satisfaction that I personally derive from this activity. The camera is just a tool; I want it to be the most competent tool that it can be; but when it comes to distributing the credit for the creative quality of the image, I want that to be fairly distributed among the surfer, the wave, and the photographer. I never intentionally shoot more than one image at a time. It's just an incredible privilege, in my mind, to watch what these surfers are capable of deriving from the power of the water; their athleticism, grace, technique, and skill all combine in a fluid motion that fully integrates them with the waves that they are riding. I genuinely feel that I owe them, as a personal obligation and as a testament to their commitment to their art, a very seriously honest attempt on my part to display the results of their efforts in the best photographic images that I, and the equipment that I am employing, are capable of rendering. And I try, -- always -- to achieve that outcome. I don't view what I do in these photographs as a form of sport photography; to me, what I am doing is an attempt to view what the surfer feels, when he/she is engaged in the act of carving the face of the wave. It's a form of portrait photography; portrait photography that attempts to capture an artist in the act of engaging in a form of kinetic sculpture. That necessarily requires a degree of visual intimacy. I am not interested in photographing an indistinct dot sliding down the face of a colossal wave. The wave and the figure are conjoined. The shape that the surfer assumes at any given moment is always reflected in the board's interaction with the wave. The more precisely the surfer judges the nature of the wave, and interprets it, in physical terms, the more elegant the path through the wave, the structure of the spray, etc., will be. Even the expression of the surfer's face, if the image portrays it, is a crucial element in the overall composition; it illustrates the full physical and mental absorption demanded by the activity itself; as well as the determination, will, joy, and various other internal experiences that the surfer is undergoing at any given moment. Anyone who has ever tried to do this type of photography knows that it is not easy; in sheer volume, the number of failures far exceeds the number of successes; but the significance of this simple numerical given imbalance rapidly recedes to virtually nothing, in the moment that you acquire a single image that expresses exactly what you were attempting to achieve. I'm leaving for a trip back home (the Midwest, in the US) tomorrow (May 28), so I won't have the opportunity to do any surfing photography, or post anything for about the next three weeks. I put up about a dozen shots for tomorrow; a lot of what I've posted in the last two days was done on the 25th; it's really late in the season, but that was a very good day; I took 350 shots that day, and about 50 escaped being deleted. I haven't been able to shoot very much, over the last few months, because the weather has been so poor. I'm already looking forward to October, when real surfing returns to Santa Cruz. In my opinion, someone -- anyone -- who exhibits a truly exceptional level of skill, always deserves recognition...without exception. That is why I do this stuff. I love watching these people; it's enormously gratifying. And I get to photograph them! What more could you possibly want? Summer's over, Fall of 2010 has arrived, and Steamer Lane is just beginning to hit its stride. I'm already beginning to generate a large backlog of shots that I haven't had time to process, yet; and that's a good thing, as I see it. By the time that Spring of 2011 rolls around, I'd like to have a backlog of several thousand shots, actually; that'll give me plenty to do next summer. And I can still put up more than enough shots to satisfy myself, over the coming months. It the season continues the way that it has initially begun, then it has the potential to be a colossal season, here at Steamer Lane. I'm looking forward to taking a huge number of photographs of some Steamer Lane's extremely talented surfers. next few weeks, I'm going to put up a series of what I would describe as surfing images that I have digitally altered to render them as surrealistic/abstract/impressionistic depictions of surfing. The reason for this is not simply to take a break from posting "traditional" photos of surfing, but rather to attempt to depict surfing from a point of view that more closely (as I see it, at least) reflects that of the surfer. A photograph of a surfing run can only depict a small fraction of what's taking place in the course of that particular run; as the person who is taking the photograph, you are inherently excluded from the experience itself, and relegated to simply capturing an "objective" image of what is actually taking place (from the "outside,' the only point of view appointed to the photographer). I don't think that a surfer could ever look at an image of himself/herself, and say, "Yeah, that's what I was doing." What they were doing has to more that the image itself. What you are necessarily excluded from capturing in any photograph -- no matter how good -- is the visceral experience of the surfer in the photograph. What he/she experiences has to be something that is highly exaggerated -- in sheer physical terms -- because the activity itself represents a huge exaggeration of the type of activities that account for normal sensory input. What they see and feel is an extremely intense, highly focused vision of an environment that is speeding past them, under them, and around them. That can only be approximated by a photograph, no matter how dedicated and skillful a given photographer might be. What I'm doing in the photographs that I'll be putting up consists of essentially isolating the surfer (for the most part), while at the same time vastly enhancing and exaggerating the movement of the environment that he/she occupies, in an effort to "interpret" the experience, rather than simply objectifying it from the "outside." I'm trying to "project" some of the surfer's experience into the photograph, to more closely approximate what might be experienced from the surfer's point of view. There isn't any way to completely achieve that end, of course, but then again, the activity itself represents such an extreme divergence from the norm that you have also have to necessarily diverge from the norm to provide any representative expression of it. And that's what I'm going to try to do, here. If things work out all right, then the first few examples should show up on the site tomorrow morning (12/19). Some of the images will be much more accessible than are many others, of course. But every single one is just as much a valid, and genuine attempt to express just how I view the art of surfing as is any other.
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abstract aerial backlit barrel black and white crowded cutback drop in glassy landscape longboard people shortboard silhouette spray stand up paddle Stormy sunset surfer girl wipeout young surfer
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Coelacanth1185 days ago +1 Rating Rate Positive Rate Negative
Cheers Bruce. Today is a great day for America and the world. Osama Bin Laden is dead. Our President...and Navy Seals...'Got 'er Done'!!!MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! At long last...Raise a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer today...if you've got any...and toast this historic day!...I expect the same domestic political crap will pick up again shortly...but more subdued...maybe. Let's hope. Thanks for all the great pics. I've just saved some to faves.
Bruce Anderson1184 days ago +1 Rating Rate Positive Rate Negative
Hello, Coelocanth. I love a happy ending. We haven't heard the last from these people, I suppose...but on the other hand this scrote's ticket certainly got punched, and he was thought by his followers to be essentially invulnerable. Not this time. I think that everything was handled very smoothly, on this one. Always a pleasure to see a high level of professionalism brought to bear on a problem, to successfully resolve it...rather than a lot of tough talk and empty bravado. A case of "Shock and Awe," with a genuine target, and an outcome of consumate finality. Can't ask for much more than that.
b0ngman1191 days ago -1 Rating Rate Positive Rate Negative
dude you really shoot a single frame at a time? are you ever like "But at what cost?"?
Bruce Anderson1190 days ago +3 Rating Rate Positive Rate Negative
b0ngman: Yes. No. I do shoot only one frame at a time (and I admit that I'm impressed that someone would actually bother to read that far along), even though the Canon 7D can knock off eight full resolution shots per second. The technology is moving in the direction of seizing as many shots as the highest speed card and buffer can possibly hold and transfer. I am hardly in a position to fault that approach, from the perspective of someone on the receiving end of that technology, since there are a huge number of people out there who want as much of that as they can get. I just don't happen to be one of them. If I don't get the shot that I am looking for, then it will be largely a matter of my having misjudged an element of timing that I might have handled better, had I been paying more attention to what I was doing at the time. When things go badly, I can blame myself; and when things go according to the way that I want them to go, then I can assume that at least some degree of credit will accrue to me. I'm willing to accept either outcome. What I truly don't want is a camera that relieves me of everything. As I told a friend in an email -- roughly a year ago -- "If I wanted the camera to do all of the things that I now do, then I would just have a cab driver take the camera down and set it up on a tripod, and let it shoot away." As it now stands, I absolutely have to stay out ahead of the shot to be able to capture exactly the instant that I am looking for. It's probably somewhat arrogant of me to say so (it's probably as arrogant as hell, when I think about it), but the "potential" shot that might reside a fraction of a second on either side of the one I'm attempting to capture is simply not the one that I want. Even though the "other shot" might actually be the better of the two.
Spongerdudette1191 days ago +1 Rating Rate Positive Rate Negative
I see that one of your shots is ''Photo of the day''.....congrats :)
Bruce Anderson1190 days ago Unrated Rate Positive Rate Negative
Thank you, spongerdudette. The selection certainly came as a pleasant surprise, when I saw it this morning. I get to photograph some of the best surfing talent in California, here at Steamer Lane; I still consider that to be a huge source of personal satisfaction, and also a genuine privilege.
mantis1277 days ago -1 Rating Rate Positive Rate Negative
"If you're (the cunt)a member of the troupe in the shot at the upper left, exactly which one are you. I'm trying to figure out which looks to be the "toughest" of the bunch. Give me a clue? Impossible to tell, simply by looking." LOL! You nailed that one Bruce! I am not sure but I think they are his class mates. He's one dude that could use one of your cop arm bar face slams. Not recommended though, you might get into a little strife for ass kicking skinny minor dude
Bruce Anderson1277 days ago -1 Rating Rate Positive Rate Negative
Thanks, mantis; I appreciate the response.
Spongerdudette1313 days ago -1 Rating Rate Positive Rate Negative
Thanks Bruce, and a Merry Christmas to you and yours as well. Ha I bet it is quite a shock to the system being back in Illinois with snow that deep. Here in Bristol (as well as all over the UK) it's freezing with daytime temps reaching only -4 brrr :( But I look forward to seeing more great shots that you'll upload on here next year...carry on with the good work :)
Spongerdudette1352 days ago +3 Rating Rate Positive Rate Negative
Top rated photographer with 4.48 Bruce...congrats :)
Bruce Anderson1352 days ago +7 Rating Rate Positive Rate Negative
Thank you, spongerdudette (you're largely responsible for that outcome, as I see it, actually; if you hadn't begun remarking on my photos, no one would have bothered paying attention to them). Since the Santa Cruz edition of the "O'Neill Cold Water Classic," I have routinely been receiving between roughly 850 to 1500 views a day of my photographs; between yesterday morning and this morning, that figure moved up to a little more than 4000. Being on the list of the "Top Photographers of the Month" is gratifying, of course; but I also recognize that it is an entirely temporary position, too. There are very, very many talented photographers constantly posting to this site, on a regular basis, so the competition is always going to be pretty demanding. I'm essentially satisfied to be able to put up photographs and know that there are people out there who enjoy looking at them. There are a number of truly talented surfers at Steamer Lane -- both male and female -- who deserve to have their particular art form receive some recognition, and I feel a genuine obligation to portray them in the most accurate manner that I can, through the instrument of photography. It really is a pleasure and a privilege to be able to regularly photograph these people; they are truly remarkable athletes.
Spongerdudette1359 days ago +2 Rating Rate Positive Rate Negative
Some more nices shots again Bruce. I seen that there was at least four of your photos on the front page again last night....well done :)
Bruce Anderson1359 days ago +3 Rating Rate Positive Rate Negative
Thank you, spongerdudette. I've gotten a lot of photos, in the last few weeks. The weather -- for the most part -- has been very good here, lately; and Steamer Lane is really on a roll. The swells over the last several days have been coming in, steadily, from the eight to twelve foot range; I've been out shooting for three of the last four days, and I'll be out again this afternoon. I now have a very substantial backlog of photos for post production work-ups, and if the weather holds the way that it has for the last few weeks -- and the sets keep coming through the way that they have been -- then I'll be able to get in a couple of hundred shots a day; and right now about 25% of the shots that I'm getting are good enough to put up on Magicseaweed, at some point. Thanks again, spongerdudette.
Spongerdudette1377 days ago +4 Rating Rate Positive Rate Negative
After looking at your as well as other recent photos from Steamer Lane, I've gotta to a question. How close actually are the surfers to the cliff face? Because on some of the shots they look like they're really close and only a few feet away. Is this a case of zooming or the shots taken at an angle to make it look like this, or are they actually that close?
Bruce Anderson1377 days ago +3 Rating Rate Positive Rate Negative
For whatever reason, my reply to your question is further down the page; and I should have added that the surfers probably come as close as ten feet or so from the cliff face itself. That distance, combined with the distance down to the level of the wave itself can put them probably as close as 25 to 30 feet from you, on the closest runs.
Spongerdudette1377 days ago -1 Rating Rate Positive Rate Negative
Ten foot!!...that it is close. Those guys must be pretty good surfers to make sure that they don't get smashed into the rocks. But thanks for the info bruce :)
Spongerdudette1379 days ago Unrated Rate Positive Rate Negative
Yet more great shots on here today Bruce. Congrats on having 4 of your photos on the front page last night, with one being the top rated :)
Bruce Anderson1379 days ago +1 Rating Rate Positive Rate Negative
Thank you, spongerdudette. I think there was a sudden increase in interest in Steamer Lane, when all of those photos from the first day of the "O'Neill Cold Water Classic" were put up yesterday. I had a very sharp increase in the number of people viewing shots that I've put up over the last week or so. I haven't been over to take any shots of the Cold Water Classic; I prefer shooting in the afternoon, because of the position of the sun at that time, and for the last few days the coast has been socked in with fog in the afternoon. If it's clear today I'll go over for a few hours; if there's no fog -- and I get anything worth looking at -- I'll try to get some shots put up by Friday. Thanks again for the comment, spongerdudette. And with regard to the two shots of the girl in the bikini at Steamer Lane, that were put up yesterday: Nobody dresses like that at Steamer Lane; the only nearby beach is just a few hundred feet west of Steamer Lane (right below the spot where the photographer had her stand), and the locals refer to it as "Dog Beach;" people take their dogs -- off leash -- for walks on the beach, since it's the only beach in Santa Cruz where dogs are allowed. Occasionally you'll see some people on skim boards or boogie boards down there, but no one ever swims there. My guess would be that the girl was the photographer's girl friend (friend, sister, etc.), or she models professionally; she wasn't someone who just happened to be "hanging out," at the time. You can't even see the surfing from where she was positioned. This isn't a criticism of the photographs; it's just a clarification of the probable circumstances of the two shots.
Spongerdudette1379 days ago Unrated Rate Positive Rate Negative
I glad that your photos did actually get more views as I think that they are well worth it, and I personally would like to see more of them on the front page. As for those photos of that girl, I didn't actually think that she was the ''norm'' for Steamer Lane, and you could see that she is a model just posing for the camera. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with that all and if it adds to her portfolio then fair play. My only gripe with it was the comments made about her figure. Some of the guys on here do my head in, as they criticise a female for being a bit larger or too slim, when their probably sat at a computer with their beer bellies hanging out over the top of their trousers. Oh sorz about my little rant there. Buy anyhoo, congrats again and I hope that conditions are right for you to go out and carry on taking shots :)
Bruce Anderson1379 days ago Unrated Rate Positive Rate Negative
Thanks, spongerdudette; I didn't have any problem with the lady's figure, either. And, judging by the response to the two photos posted here, there are a lot of guys who log on here who must have felt the same way about how she looks. The two photos -- after one day -- already come in among the top five or six most viewed shots from Steamer Lane taken, over the last year.
Bruce Anderson1377 days ago Unrated Rate Positive Rate Negative
How close they come to the cliff face depends largely on where the wave first begins to break, spongerdudette; because of the position of the cliffs at Steamer Lane, the waves always move from west to east; or, when you're standing on top of the cliff, they always move from your right hand side to your left. How close a surfer can be is determined by how close to the face of the cliff a wave is when it begins to break in the direction of the open water. If, say, a wave begins to break towards the open water 150 feet or so to my right, then the surfer will be moving down the wave -- away from the cliff face -- as the collapsing end of the wave reaches the cliff face. If the wave breaks twenty or thirty feet to the right of the cliff face, on the other hand, then the surfer will be almost directly below you, when he/she begins to carve the face of the wave. I use a 70-300mm telephoto lens for all my shooting, and much of time I'm shooting at the 300mm end of the lens; but when a wave breaks very close to the cliff face, then the lens is backed down to the 70mm end, and sometimes even that is not a wide enough angle to get the shot exactly the way that I would like it to be. I put up one shot -- within the last few days -- where I was in a position to look almost directly down on the surfer below me; in that shot, the surfer was probably a little more than thirty feet away.
MIKEYPCARMICHAEL1492 days ago -1 Rating Rate Positive Rate Negative
pic was 2seconds,on a nikon d90 with a sigma 10 to20mm lens at ap 3.5 at iso 400,started off at 8 sec but the moon was too blurred
Bruce Anderson1492 days ago -1 Rating Rate Positive Rate Negative
Thanks; that's roughly what I thought it might be; I have the same Sigma lens, with a Pentax mount for a K20D and a K7; it's an absolutely great lens for the money; huge wide angle, with no really discernable distortion at all.
Spongerdudette1499 days ago Unrated Rate Positive Rate Negative
Just got to say Bruce, some more really good shots you have uploaded again this week.
Spongerdudette1569 days ago Unrated Rate Positive Rate Negative
Hey Bruce, you've put some lovely photos on here, crisp clean colours...very nice :)
Bruce Anderson1568 days ago -2 Rating Rate Positive Rate Negative
Thank you for the kind words. This really hasn't been a particularly good year (fall of 2009, through spring of 2010), as a consequence of the almost daily conditions of heavy overcast skies, and very frequent rainfall, for surfing photography in the Santa Cruz area. Lots of very good waves being generated, with swells in the 13 to 16 ft. range being relatively common, this entire season, but accompanied by conditions that were just too uncompromising to bother going out to do any decent photography. Last year was much better. The color in the photographs is the result of the sun's position in the afternoon sky, during the fall and winter; Steamer Lane is very near the northern tip of Monterey Bay, and the configuration of the cliffs that project out into the water at this location ensures that the sun is in a position in the afternoon sky to light the waves from directly behind. On a good day the colors can be very dramatic; lots of very deep, opaque blues combine with translucent shades of green that are very nearly transparent, at the top of the wave. The cliffs here are about twenty feet above the water (depending on the level of the tide), and with a wave that is sufficiently high the surfer is actually only several feet below you, if they are close to the base of the cliff. On ideal days the swells rise up at a point a few hundred feet to the right of where I stand, and the waves reach their full height just about the time that they carry the surfer across my front, and along the water to the left of the cliff. Depending on just how a given wave will tend to break, the surfer will either move away from the base of the cliff that I am on, or towards the base of the cliff. The very best waves can be a few hundred feet long, and my view is from the nearest end out to the end farthest from the base of the cliff. With a wave that forms to my right, and breaks out at the far end, I can catch the surfer as he/she moves towards me, along the length of the wave; if the wave breaks near the base of the cliff, then I can catch the surfer as he/she moves away from me (if the wave is high enough, they tend to almost disappear, just as soon as the wave passes to my left. On really good days you get a complete assortment of everything; the action can be so constant, in fact, that you can shift from one wave to another as the swells constantly move across your front. These days are relatively rare, though, and there were only a couple of them this year. And now the season is coming to a close. In another month the waves will die off almost altogether, and there will be very few photographic moments until October. Thanks again for the kind words. Bruce Anderson