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Amazing Waves
March 23, 2009 1:58 PM   Subscribe

Clark Little takes amazing photos of waves. See more at his website.
posted by various (42 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
I agree whole-heartedly. I will now search out waterproof enclosures for my cameras, just because this looks like a lot of fun, even if I fail miserably to capture anything like what he has captured.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:05 PM on March 23, 2009


It's a shop - I can tell from the pixels and having seen a lot of shops in my time

Still freaking cool looking though.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:10 PM on March 23, 2009


This seems like a bad idea.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:15 PM on March 23, 2009


It's too bad waterproof housings for cameras cost a hundred jillion bucks.
posted by aubilenon at 2:19 PM on March 23, 2009


What's shopped, Potomac? Can you be specific?

Also, more amazing Clark Little photos here.
posted by rtha at 2:20 PM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


For capturing that magic way that water undulates, I always loved Vija Celmins' drawings of the ocean.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:21 PM on March 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is one of the greatest things I've ever seen on Metafilter. I'd favorite it a thousand times if it were possible. Fantastic, fantastic photos - my soul is aching for the beach right now.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 2:22 PM on March 23, 2009


Tubular.
posted by delmoi at 2:27 PM on March 23, 2009


(oh and as far as "the pixels" go, I think the first image looks like it's been damaged by too much JPG compression, but I don't see why you would think these are photoshops. Lots of pictures look photoshoped if you stare at them too long)
posted by delmoi at 2:28 PM on March 23, 2009


You can see much higher res images in the guys gallery, obviously not photoshops.
posted by delmoi at 2:40 PM on March 23, 2009


Several of these (5,6, and 12) show what a good and fast eye Hokusai had.
posted by jamjam at 2:42 PM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have no idea how Clark is so willing to plunge into those waves every time. From the angles he's apparently taking the photos from, he's about 2 seconds away from a very nice tumbling every time, and let me tell you, washing machines have nothing on the Pacific Ocean.

Nonetheless, a very cool set of pictures--especially the ones that show the waves stripping the water down to bare sand.
posted by librarylis at 2:43 PM on March 23, 2009


Having snapped a few pix in watery conditions, the problem is always that drops on the lens, even though they should be way out of focus, act as little lenses themselves, and make their presence known optically. How does he wipe the drops off the lens and filters while inside a tumbling wave? That would be where I'd find myself in Photoshop, cleaning up the droplets.

Anyone know how he pulls that off?
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:58 PM on March 23, 2009


It's fun to find out what makes an ocean wave wave.*
posted by not_on_display at 3:00 PM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think Potomac is kidding.
posted by Morrigan at 3:05 PM on March 23, 2009


Several of these (5,6, and 12) show what a good and fast eye Hokusai had.

The guy is brilliant, these images are gorgeous. I'm not sure how much of it is having a fast eye. Honestly for shots like these he probably shoots at best a dozen crap ones where the timing was off or the focus was off etc, for each one that he is happy with.
Shooting the picture is only half of photography, post work including cropping, exposure adjustments and selecting which shots to use are a big part. It seems a little less glamorous that way, but that's how it usually works.
posted by MrBobaFett at 3:23 PM on March 23, 2009


If you've ever seriously bodysurfed or surfed in general I bet you gasped at some of the pictures like I did.

I love the sandbar shots. I've seen that view briefly a few times. It usually means I'm about 2 seconds away from having sand hydraulically blasted into every hole in my body and then violently rolled in the briny muck for good measure.

However, if you spend a lot of time in shorebreak and you know your beach this really isn't that dangerous. Years ago my brother and I invented a sport called body-whomping when we got bored of bodyboarding, bodysurfing, skimboarding, etc.

It's kind of like body surfing in shore break, but without the gracefully flailing 15 second rides. The ultimate goal seemed to be to get the shorebreak to beat the crap out of us. One method to accomplish this was to stand in the break or backwash zone, let the full force of the face of the wave slap you in the back or chest and then slam you into the hard sand. This evolved into doing forward flips in the curl of the wave so we landed on our butts in the sand, cannonballs, body slams, etc.

Yeah, we made the lifeguards nervous. I had skimboarding crash once where I launched about 8 feet in the air and came straight down on my head like a lawn dart in an inch of water. I wasn't even stunned so I got up and kept skimming. I don't think I noticed the life guard chasing me around with a backboard and neck brace until two or three rides later. He was yelling something and gesturing at my neck. "What? What do you want, man? Oh, no. I'm fine. Really Oh, please go away, I'm trying to have some fun here."

Well, that and we'd knowingly use rip currents for a free ride out to the lineup. "YOU'RE WALKING INTO RIP CURRENT STOP!" "I know! I'm trying to get outside in a hurry so I can catch this break! Christ, man, I'm wearing fins. I could swim to Catalina if I had to."

And now I'm going to go spend some time being depressed that swimming in the ocean generally makes me sick and gives me terrible ear infections these days.
posted by loquacious at 3:25 PM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you've ever seriously bodysurfed or surfed in general I bet you gasped at some of the pictures like I did.

No, but I found myself holding my breath a couple of times! I bodysurfed as a kid at Sunset beach on the North Shore, where some (all?) of these photos were taken. Getting washing-machined isn't exactly the funnest thing ever, but it's not horrible as long as you remember to keep your arms and legs tucked in as much as possible. And hold your breath, of course. Not minding having sand in places where sand shouldn't go helps, too.
posted by rtha at 3:29 PM on March 23, 2009


From the angles he's apparently taking the photos from, he's about 2 seconds away from a very nice tumbling every time

Reminds me of wave-jumping at the Wedge. You can escape intact. If you're lucky.

How does he wipe the drops off the lens and filters while inside a tumbling wave?

I'm not saying there isn't some 'shoppin' going on, but there are such things as hydrophobic lens coatings...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:38 PM on March 23, 2009


I can enjoy these immensely with the knowledge that while he is very good, in almost every instance, a second or so after the shot was gotten, he was probably crushed and sputtering water.

I guess this is what they mean by suffering for your art.

aubilenon : It's too bad waterproof housings for cameras cost a hundred jillion bucks.

While it won't ever approach the quality of image you get from an SLR, you can get a good waterproof/ impact resistant camera for a couple of hundred.

It's actually really nice in that you never have to worry about shooting in the rain or at the beach. Plus, chasing fish is loads of fun.
posted by quin at 3:44 PM on March 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Awesome. Here's to super fast shutter speeds.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 3:55 PM on March 23, 2009


especially the ones that show the waves stripping the water down to bare sand.

Yeah, #9 at the BBC site is stunning. But I think I like the ones like #3 and #12 best. Thanks, various, this is wonderful.
posted by mediareport at 4:03 PM on March 23, 2009


Er, I meant #10 at the BBC site.
posted by mediareport at 4:04 PM on March 23, 2009


Now that's a shorebreak. I must admit I prefer my waves with a little more water underneath them but I don't see why anyone would think that was shopped. Learn to bodyboard and you can see that view for yourself!

Waterproof housings aren't that much really, a few grand which is probably a lot less then his lenses, and come with hydropohbic coatings as noted above.
posted by fshgrl at 4:04 PM on March 23, 2009


librarylis, loquacious, I hear you right there. My first thought when seeing this was, ouch!

I remember the beautiful moments off NZ coast, getting my swimtrunks filled with the coarse sand, being hit by the oncoming wall of water in the chest and then dragged underneath so many times.

Ripcurrents? Well, I only learned about those later.

Great pictures, absolutely.
posted by Laotic at 4:19 PM on March 23, 2009


What he has achieved through the lens of his camera are images never seen by those who reside on land.

I beg to differ!
posted by dydecker at 4:34 PM on March 23, 2009


so by 'amazing' I see that what you meant was....AMAZING. gorgeous. thanks!
posted by supermedusa at 4:36 PM on March 23, 2009


From the angles he's apparently taking the photos from, he's about 2 seconds away from a very nice tumbling every time

Nonsense. He's obviously taking the pics from the side of the ocean.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:39 PM on March 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I spend a lot of time looking at photographers' work on web sites, and only about twice a year do I see a portfolio that just blows me away.

This is one of those.
posted by imjustsaying at 4:52 PM on March 23, 2009


I much prefer these wave photos. (I now see that they've been FPPd already. Poo.)
posted by shakespeherian at 5:24 PM on March 23, 2009


These are *amazing* but how does he do this? balancing on a surfboard with a camera? (and somebody tell me they weren't photoshopsed - - I want to believe......)
posted by bluesky43 at 5:59 PM on March 23, 2009


Gorgeous. And the wave photos are breathtaking also.
posted by tula at 6:11 PM on March 23, 2009


Bluesky43, a work friend who's a surfer had some pictures like this, perhaps by the same guy, and he said that the photographer floats vertically in the water with his head and camera just above the surface, and turns perpendicular to the wave so he's looking down the tube as the crest breaks over him. He snaps the picture then gets tumbled like crazy, but he's wearing a wetsuit and fins so he's buoyant and has good swimming power, so he comes up OK.

Oh, and thanks for the post - these photos are absolutely gorgeous!
posted by Quietgal at 6:37 PM on March 23, 2009


Nice, visiting the "Green Room" is one of the greatest joys of surfing. Shorebreaks, like those in the photos, are great fun precisely because they are breaking on the shore or in very shallow water close to the shore and they therefore form a barrel or tube by throwing the lip of the wave away from the wave face much more reliably than out in deeper water.

I would point out that there's plenty of surf photographers that take photos like these. One of my fave online surf photography sites is an Australian site Swellnet that provides surf photography from different amatuers, alongside the usual daily surf reports and photos of the surf conditions. Some examples I found on a random scan through their archives are Light transmission in water and Water sculptures. More can can be found listed down the right side of the page.
posted by Onanist at 5:20 AM on March 24, 2009


I'll say it again. Amazing!! The photos bring back memories of being tossed on my ass and flung on shore with sand in my shorts.
posted by birdwatcher at 6:00 AM on March 24, 2009


Holy fucking shit these are awesome. I'm honestly just gaping. Wow.
posted by marginaliana at 8:48 AM on March 24, 2009


Gorgeous! + a million
posted by misha at 10:30 AM on March 24, 2009


The prismatic effect is really awesome. I really like the gradation between the deep orange and blue.
posted by ideational at 11:18 AM on March 24, 2009


Aren't these breakers rather than waves?
posted by Eideteker at 11:38 AM on March 24, 2009


Aren't these breakers rather than waves?

Maybe if you willingly call a lakeshore a beach they are. I grew up in the Pacific Ocean, so the terminology tends to be "swell" for unbroken wave and "wave" for anything that's actively cresting and curling or breaking. Sometimes you hear someone say "nice breakers" or "that's a nice break, I've been there" or something, but never "let's go surf the breakers" because you don't surf the bits after the break, but before. Where it's still a smooth, hopefully glassy wave. Unless you're a tourist on a rented inflatable raft or a kid with a boogie board or something, not that there's anything wrong with riding foam and soup but it's kind of like eating cookie crumbs instead of cookies.

Then we tend to describe the various parts of the wave and topology as needed. Shoulder, peak, closeout, barrel, tube. Left break, left peak, right break, right peak. Double break, center peak - particularly cool for having two shoulders and take-offs per wave. Soup. Inside and outside - as inside and outside of the break zone. Shorebreak. Backwash. Point break. Flat break. Stacked break. Reef break. Sandbar break. Jetty break. South swell. North swell. Hurricane swell - swells generated by distant hurricanes resulting in huge, strong waves, often with many more waves in a set than average at a given break. Often considered the caviar of waves. These are now tracked by satellite and reported through various surf reporting channels and media. People take sometimes take vacations to meet them at favored breaks.

Note that the descriptions have everything to do with topologies of the the relation of the ocean and weather as they interact with coastal geography types and even weather from points as far away as the opposite hemisphere. If I say "stacked wedge break" to someone who surfs, they can likely derive that it's probably a steep, short beach with a geographic feature that compresses the peak into a double-wave, leading to a thick-lipped, fast breaking wave. If I say "outside point break" they'll derive that it's possibly a sandbar or reef break that wraps around a point of land that gives a longer, smoother shoulder break that may break slower and allow for longer tube rides and longer rides in general.

There's a lot of arcane language there even just in the California surf culture, and it's interesting to me how descriptive and observant of the natural world it is. rtha could probably tell you a lot more about Hawaiian surf culture and language use.
posted by loquacious at 2:19 PM on March 24, 2009


No can do, sadly. We left Hawaii before I learned to stand on a board. All my surfing experience is of the body variety, and my wave vocabulary is limited to "Nice!" and "Wow, big waves!" and "Oh holy shit that's insane who surfs in shit like that???"
posted by rtha at 3:06 PM on March 24, 2009


Pfff, there are no "pixels" in these images. I would know, I've been in shops in my time.
posted by DU at 5:55 PM on March 24, 2009


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