Maine beaches, in Winter, are for the hardcore. During summer, they’re a pleasant 80°F (that’s 27°C btw) with warm sand, cool water, and an ice cream stand usually a short barefoot stroll away. Tourists occupy cozy beach-side bed and breakfasts like The Breakers Inn (HDR photo panorama above) and frolic all day in their sandals and swim suits. However, during the cold and bleak months between October and April, these docile softies retreat to warmer environs and a different breed of beach goer emerges. I’m talking about winter surfers. With high water temperatures hovering in the low 40′s (about 4°C), they don’t mess around. Equipped with waxed boards, steely gazes, and dry suits (basically the winter jacket version of wet suits), they truly are hardcore. While photographing at Higgins Beach recently, I literally shivered just watching them paddling about in the Atlantic as if it was the Caribbean. (The shivering was partially because it was 37°F outside, but you get the point.)
As the light faded into a disappointingly gray sunset, I couldn’t let this opportunity pass me by. I had to at least try capturing the stoicism of these peculiar surfer dudes and dudettes. Walking up as confidently as I could to one surfer who had separated from the rest, I briefly introduced myself and offered him my business card.
Before moving on, stop for a moment to consider that last statement… I offered a surfer my business card while he was surfing… o_O
He politely explained that he had no pockets and that the water would most likely would ruin the card. After some more brief conversation, it turned out that we had actually met before. He is a middle school teacher in my hometown. In fact we had worked together years ago at the local summer rec camp. What are the odds right? (In Maine, in winter, the odds of meeting someone you know are actually pretty high.)
He was very agreeable to posing for some photos. I ended up sacrificing my sneakers to capture the shot below, but I think it turned out like I envisioned.
- 7 bracketed NEFs shot on a tripod at the cost of 2 tennis shoes
- Tone Mapped in Photomatix
- Tone Mapped image blended with sources in Photoshop.
- Extensive adjustment layers, editing, and honey-roasted peanuts used to create the final image.