chris bickford – storm

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Chris Bickford

After The Storm

play this essay


…A life of Surf on the Outer Banks


The bad weather comes out of nowhere.   Within hours, sometimes minutes, a perfect day at the beach–kids playing in the surf, girls in bikinis parading up and down the shoreline, middle-aged men tending fishing rods, beer in hand–turns into a raging tempest.  The wind picks up, the temperature drops ten degrees in as many minutes, the barometric pressure plummets, and the sky takes on dark chiaroscuro tones, ominous against the traces of warm light disappearing on the horizon.  Beach lovers, rudely awakened from their seaside reveries, gather their things and scatter like crows.  In no time at all, the wind whips the ocean up into a froth of whitewater and salt spray.  The picture-postcard shoreline of North Carolina’s Outer Banks has  donned its alter ego: a raging, dark, but strangely beautiful land of cloud, wind,and blowing sand.

The storm will last a day, possibly three, maybe seven.  Black clouds will hover ominously, the brisk ocean wind out of the northeast will permeate everything with its damp chill.  Most folks will be driven indoors, to hibernate until the next patch of good weather.

But here and there, there are signs of life….

In front of Avalon pier, a rag-tag procession of pickup trucks, SUV’s, and beat-up sedans with racks on top rolls through the parking lot, each vehicle pulling up to a different spot along the bulkhead, and parking to face the sea.   They will stay a minute or two, maybe ten or twenty, maybe an hour—engines running, tailpipe smoke wisping in the damp wind—their drivers warm inside, watching, waiting.  A few intrepid fishermen brave it out on the pier,  the platform trembling with each wave crashing through the rickety pilings, the spray shooting up through the planks and drenching their trousers.   Clouds of seafoam roll down the beach, breakers lash against houses laid bare to the ocean’s fury from years of shoreline erosion.

Somewhere down the beach, a pack of young gremlins is out surfing the slop, bobbing up and down in the chunky soup, whooping and hollering as the sea tosses them around and whitewater sprays their faces.   There’s little hope of getting a decent ride in conditions like this, but the kids don’t care; it’s better than staying inside playing video games.   Red flags on the beach flutter furiously, reading “NO SWIMMING”…but no one said anything about surfing.

A woman in a raincoat walks past, her hand clasping tightly to the hood, body slanted sideways into the wind, a dog on a leash. A few gulls are swarming around something that has washed up in the storm.

Other than that, the beach is empty.

But inside houses all up and down the Outer Banks, surfers are listening to the mechanical voice coming from the NOAA weather radio, its uninflected drone creating a soundtrack for their anticipation:  “Waves. ten to fifteen feet.  Winds.  east-northeast. at. thirty-five to forty knots. becoming southwest. at.  five to ten. by. Sunday.”   Buoy reports, tide charts, surf forecast sites, the Weather Channel…the dedicated are poring over every last piece of information they can get, crossing their fingers that the swells will increase in size and duration and the wind will switch offshore, grooming the ocean’s surface into clean parallel lines.   They live for the morning they will wake to find that the storm has passed on, and the raging sea has begun to clean up into beautiful, rippable, shackable walls of pure energy.


Without storms, there would be no surf.   The winds generated by cyclones, hurricanes, and low pressure systems churn up the surface of the ocean; and the nastier the storm, the bigger the surf that is ultimately generated by it.  As the waves on the open ocean crash into each other, their energy focuses into swells, directional pulses of energy moving just under the ocean’s surface, which close ranks and fall in to a single-file march to some distant shore.    The further the shore, the more organized the swell becomes.   But the longer the swell  travels across the sea, the more it loses of the fierce energy that created it;  and if it travels too far, it will eventually fade back into the sea.   If, however, it finds itself confronted with a solid obstruction–a rocky point, a sandy beach, a barely submerged reef–it will crash and burn violently in an explosion of whitewater and curl, a never-ending expression of the life force that animates the universe.

It is this violent but beautiful death of the swell that makes possible the art of surf.   The shape of the ocean floor as it rises to meet the coast pushes and sculpts the breaking swell into an infinite variety of surf; from fat, hollow, beachbreak barrels to long, sloping pointbreaks.   As the wave breaks along the shore, it jacks up into a cylindrical wall before crashing over top of itself; along the fast-moving vertical edge of this wall, surfers explore a magical interplay of gravity and kinetic energy, fusing their movements with the changing shape and speed of the wave in a performance that is part dance, part communion, and part combat–with no small amount of showmanship and bluster from those who can do it well.


The surf on the Outer Banks is of a variety generally termed “beach break” (as opposed to “reef break” or “point break”).  The shoreline is one long, straight stretch of sand, with no bays, promontories, or hard stone of any kind to buffer the wind, or to hold the sand in place.  What makes surfing possible here are small hill-sized bumps of submerged sand that collect around piers or form in random spots along the beach from the shifting ocean currents.  These underwater dunes, or sandbars, lie just offshore, and as the tide goes out they get nearer to the ocean’s surface, forcing the incoming swells to jack up and break over top of them.   After a particularly violent storm, the sandbars shift, requiring an exhaustive reconnaissance and re-mapping of the shoreline to find the spots where the wave is breaking the best.   Once the surf begins to clean up after a storm, an extensive cell-phone network fires into action, as friends fill each other in on where they’ve checked and how it looks.   On the morning of the clean-up, the hardcore may have driven as much as an hour or two on dawn patrol, anywhere from Corolla Light to Hatteras Light–and sometimes further south to Frisco if the conditions are favorable–trying to find the spot where the wave is breaking the best.

A good sandbar can last a year, sometimes longer; often a spot will die for a year or two and then re-emerge with a slightly different size and shape to it.  Some die slow deaths, some die quickly in big storms.   There are certain spots that consistently attract good sandbars, and other spots that just magically appear one summer or fall in unexpected places.

The window of opportunity for good surf on the Outer Banks is small.   The surf starts off sloppy and confused, too big, too much whitewater….and slowly it becomes cleaner and cleaner…for an hour or two, maybe three, it’s perfect.   Peaky A-frames coming in one after the other, enough for everybody, smooth as silk…Then, as soon as it comes together, it begins to die.   The tide comes in, the swells diminish in size and power, maybe the wind shifts once again and blows everything out.   “You missed it this morning” is a common gloat the hardcore like to throw out to their I-got-wasted-last-night-and-slept-til-noon brethren, who still manage to get out and have a good time surfing the tail end of it.   The next day, the ocean will be flat, or choppy, or just not quite good enough to bother; and the surfers will disappear until after the next storm.


The local crew on the Outer Banks is a diverse lot, from burnt-out punks to born-again Christians; from pre-teen gremlins to guys in their sixties and seventies.  A number of strong women surfers represent the fairer sex, but the crew is predominantly male.   There are summer surfers, Sunday surfers; guys who won’t surf if it’s too cold to trunk it; guys who will ALWAYS paddle out, even on the iciest days….there are brat packs and lone wolves, world-famous globetrotting professionals, and mellow stoners who just want to get wet and catch a ride.   In the summer, there are tourists–loads of them–trying to figure it out on rented styrofoam boards, or clogging some spot with a surf school…and whenever the surf is really good, the Va Beach crew rolls in like a band of Turks, charging it at the best spots, pulling crazy aerial maneuvers, and generally acting like they own the place.

The level of talent is high; and at certain spots, if a heavy crew is out, it can feel downright intimidating if you don’t know what you’re doing.  Generally, however, the vibe is friendly, or at the very least polite, and everybody is just stoked to be surfing.  Many of us who live here have our own little spots that we keep going back to, just to have a wave to ourselves.   They are not always the best spots, but they feel like home, and it saves time from running up and down the beach looking for a better wave.   And besides, that’s where our friends will be.   There are few more sublime moments to experience in life than that of sitting out in the lineup on a soft Outer Banks day with three or four friends, sometime around sunset, watching the world turn into a blazing canvas of reds, oranges, yellows, magentas, blues–sometimes even greens–and catching wave after wave as the day begins to fade.   On a glassy evening, with just a touch of humidity in the air to obscure the horizon, the ocean reflects the colors in the sky so perfectly it feels as if you are swimming in a sea of light.


It was over the course of many such evenings that the idea for this photo essay took shape; after one too many perfect sessions, sitting out in the water, saying out loud to my friends, “God, I wish I had a camera right now,”  I finally broke down and bought myself a waterproof housing.   Of course, the sad reality is that you can’t just bring along your camera while you’re out surfing;  it’s hard to paddle a surfboard when your hands are clutching a big heavy piece of glass, metal, and plastic. You have to make a decision: surf, or take pictures.    So I haven’t done much surfing since I started this project.  But I don’t mind really; truth be told I’m a much better photographer than I am a surfer, and for me the magic of surfing has always been about the feeling.  I get just as much satisfaction from knowing, when I swim back to shore clutching my camera and sputtering water,  that I’ve captured something special, some small shred of the essence of this waterlogged life out on the edge of the ocean.   Bit by bit, session by session, the picture is coming together.


A life of surf is not conducive to the rhythms of the workaday world.  Surf has no schedule.   It comes on a Monday morning as often as it comes on a Sunday afternoon–which is why very little ever gets done on time around here.  If the surf is up, or the fish are running, responsibilities will get put on hold.   Kids will play hookie, construction workers will walk off the job site, even realtors will sneak in a midday session.  The work will get done, eventually; but the swell won’t wait for quitting time.  You have to strike when it’s hot, even if it means pissing a few people off.  Surf-consciousness breeds a certain nonchalance about the rest of the world that can drive outsiders crazy.

Sometimes it tests families and relationships, the surf life; but more often than not it builds them and solidifies them.  Grandfathers go surfing with their grandkids, husbands and wives paddle out together, church groups and restaurants represent out in the water.    It is a language that ties people together– talking about the last swell, the next swell, what the wind is doing, where you last had it good, where you’re thinking of going for your winter surf trip…

We are blessed to live here on the Outer Banks, we all know it.  But like the surf itself, the very ground on which we live and build our homes is fickle.  Every big storm takes a house or two with it.  Up near the border with Virginia, an entire town called Seagull was overtaken by a moving dune almost a hundred years ago.   We have blatantly ignored the warnings about houses built on sand, and some of us have paid dearly for it.

Life here is precarious; and temporary, we all know: one of these days, one of these storms will sweep through and blow this little strip of sand to smithereens.  We all know it is coming.  We joke about it, resign ourselves to it, construct possible scenarios for other lives in other places, should we ever lose our home here.   Given sufficient warning, many of us will pack whatever we can into our trucks and head for the mainland;  some of us, like the old sea-captains of yore, will just let the storm wash over us and take us out to sea; for all it has given to us, it seems only fitting that it would one day take our lives in return.   Until that day, however, there are fish to catch, waves to ride, and many perfect days left to sit on the beach and stare off into the horizon, watching the weather change.


A note on the music:  The song “Don’t Change” was written and performed by Justin Rudolph, a senior at First Flight High School.   Justin will be touring Australia after graduation, so you Aussies be on the lookout, make him feel at home…


Related links

Chris Bickford

Music: Justin Rudolph


272 Responses to “chris bickford – storm”

  • gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous..
    i recently showed the students in collage this work on your site chris.. seeing it here is a real pleasure and every bit as fresh as the first viewing..
    will it result in a book?
    more photos would have been superb.. can´t get enough of his goodness.


  • THIS goodness, i mean..
    his goodness is probably fine as well..

  • Hey Chris,

    Really nice piece.
    Like the heavy,dark tones and crunchy graininess you’ve gone with.
    #15 is an unbelievable frame with #19 and #25 being close seconds on the
    impact scale for me.


  • Really nice work. Beautiful B+W. Looks like it was alot of fun to do. Will have another look later with the sound up when the rest of the house is awake.

  • impressed with the music by Justin Rudolph as well.. superb little piece.

  • Beautiful, beautiful work. Wistful, nostalgic, hopeful all at once. The music is perfect for it, too, and I’m the sort that usually mutes every slideshow online. 12, 15, and 25 all strike me as standouts. Surfing pictures that rise above…great to see. 5 seems a little out of place, though, especially because of the toning.

  • Really nice, Chris! and I mean REALLY nice! Got totally caught up in your presentation, it really pulled me in. Wonderful light and contrast throughout. Beautiful feeling, mood. All round great stuff! I have seen a few of your singles before (great), but really enjoyed the full show, it flowed beautifully! I know nothing about surfing and haven’t seen another project like this. You manage to portray what I imagine the lifestyle to be like, in such a loose… kind of casual manner, which essentially is the lifestyle itself! Perfect. Hey, If you ever want to do a print exchange please let me know, there are a couple I love in there!


  • Stunning work. Congratulations. Makes you want to hit the beach.
    (Very nice music too).


  • call me idgit coz i am. why is this so grainy? post processing? film? digital settings? i dont even know how to take a peek.

    i love the mood. this is so relaxing. hmm after the storm… but so relaxing.

  • oh maybe chris? email me offsite so others wont have to be bothered.

  • Hey Chris,

    Striking contrast. Breathtaking. I can absolutely lose myself in the blackness of the silhouettes and the movement of the water.

    And to Justin, what a beautiful, meditative voice and it works swimmingly with this series.

  • Chris,
    this work cries for a book! Awesome images! Best I have seen of surfing so far!
    However the music was too slow for my taste because to me catching a surf is action, wild, natural, unbridled, raw power.
    To everyone who wants to get the ultimate kick in life: surfing is it! Unfortunately there are no waves near where I live, so I have to put up with water skiing ;-) Oh, this should be a future photo project to me. Just got an idea. Chris, again, thanks so much. No time to read the text. I have to hit the road!

  • I don’t understand the appeal of grainy, printed down, vignetted B&W. It’s like photographers don’t want to waste any of the silver in the paper. It’s terrible B&W. The whole world is not dark and grainy. This has become “arty” I guess, but has become cliche it is so common.

  • Simply sublime. Like the best dark chocolate.

  • Bravo Chris. ignore jim, nothing is good enough for the great sage.

    a quick few thoughts.

    Image number 3 – wow. big fan of this shot. very different perspective.

    Image number 16 – ditto.

    I would lose image nuber 14. it feels more set up than the rest of the work – image number 20 for me performs the same role in the essay but feels less forced.

    Image number 6 – feels like a “gimmick” or “joke” shot. a bit predictable, especially with that surfer running onto the beach. perhaps the sign on its own, smaller in the frame would work better? just a thought.

    Image number 11 – feels like a t-shirt advertisement. I’d lose this image from your edit.

    Image number 4 – a beautiful portrait, but feels like it is out of context with the rest of the essay which is about young surfers as opposed to kids/families. maybe it will work in a wider edit with other pictures of families/kids featured, but here it seems like an unecessary aside. again, not a criticism of the picture which i really like, just an observation of its position in this essay.



  • Ben, great advice, ignoring Jim at this stage is probably the only way to go. Jim, my essay will soon be up, be forewarned, its grainy b/w. I know your reaction already.

    While some photos were repeats and could be cut out (8 and 9 I think are the same photo especially one after the other, Id probably choose to keep 8) overall it really flowed well. And the music is fantastic it really helps the essay instead of being just an add on.

  • Really quite impressive work chris. Some of the images are truly sublime and the whole hangs together really well. I suspect there are a lot more images filed for this as well. For sure its book worthy. And i bet the prints look great on a wall too.
    Jim. I dont get it. I love the treatment here. I think it works so very well for the subject matter. And also REALLY well done and consistent. Would you have preffered it on Kodachrome? Velvia?
    You pick your stock and use of stock to create a certain VIBE that fits what you are trying to say right? You may well have shot this super clean slide saturated sharpness, and it would also probably look great. others may have done it another route, but chris did it THIS way because, i guess, he FELT that way.
    Again you use the ‘hackneyed defense’ as your critique and i dont quite get why.

  • I love it when a subject that I had no idea I was interested comes *ALIVE* because the photographer has done such a stand-out job of making me passionately aware of a world that’s new for me. These are stunning, graceful images, and they’re even more gorgeous in black-and white (it would be so easy to rely on the luscious colors of the seaside.)
    This is inspiring stuff!!!!!

  • Love this Chris! Well done!

    When I’m in Australia I live at Lennox Head / Byron Bay where we enjoy some of the best surf beaches in the country — your essay captured the feeling of my town beautifully.

    Image 20 is a cracker for me — how many times have I seen that very pose! That and jogging… apparently walking in an orderly manner with a surfboard under your arm is just not on?

    I agree with Ben’s analysis of individual images, however I’d like to know what’s going on in image #14 — it makes me think of a ceremony or something for a fallen comrade? If so, it may have worked better had we been able to see that.

    Let us know about your singer friend who’ll be touring Australia and if he’s coming to Brisbane or Byron Bay, my surfer husband and I be would happy to take him out for a surf and/or a few beers…


    i’ve waited for this for 11 years…..

    i got nothing to say but that my body agape, my heart aquiver, my cameras agone…..

    individual analysis stirs it wrong, like people watching from the beach and never really getting it….

    a beautiful meditation, a visceral poem on what it means to be alone and at piece with the shadow of the swell and the sail of the sky:

    like a swell, my heart is breaking….

    “It’s all about where your mind’s at.”–kelly slater

    i’m gonna stop writing now here, cause this and what twirl at the heart of this, is where it’s at….

    a poem, a disentanglement of the entanglement of our bodies…

    spectacularly beautiful…




    You DO NOT KNOW A DAMN THING ABOUT PHOTOGRPAHY…and it’s a horror show that you’ve been a practicing editor….i recant what i said previously, and fall back on my precious comment: your ideas and words are anemic….i shutter to imagine that you’ve been an editor (i cant imagine the straing beneath your blind tutorship)…i guess you’ve never seen an OBX storm and sunlight aint what it’s about, this story has more versmilitude that you pie-in-the-sky country fair expose you posed a while back….you are, at this point, comical….and clearly, you have never surfed after a storm, where the sky is as dark as this, where light twines water and board like a post in the corner…this is not a story about SUN LIGHT but about the texture of waves and the fracturing of light and thought against the power and silence of a sea, the body, the moment of the body beneath the thumb of the sea…clearly, you’ve never met a photograph you’ve understood…

    i reget

  • Bob its a sentiment I typed…but did not post. To say this is bad b/w reveals the ignorance of the critiquer.

  • Say what you like, photographers, it appears to me, are in real danger of only talking to themselves.

  • it’s a great mood piece Chris. loads of those images are real trophies; i hope they find their way to the walls of the people that pray to those gods and more importantly to an exhibition.

    like Ben i think a few of the images that may seem to add variety, actually collapse the wave a bit, they are valuable images possibly for a book or article, but distract from the singular spiritual mood that ‘this’ essay projects. Image fourteen is the type i find most distracting, anything that seems a bit contrived i guess. But who cares; that’s really just my appetite for a singular candid mood from an essay, a very personal appetite.

    one last thing, again to restate what i’ve already said, you have some real trophy images in this body of work Chris, let’s call them an ’11’ on a scale of 1 – 10, i’d say you have more of these 11’s than images of less calibre, but I feel that if they are not an ‘11’ then they are more like 7’s. and here’s the reason i’m making this point Chris: there a very strange correlation between your 7’s and a very centre-weighted composition, is that lens forcing down that road?

    But most importantly Chris, applause :-)

  • Chris, I really loved your essay; thanks for sharing. Photographs, text and music all worked for me: I was particularly impressed with the photographs facing towards the beach; a waves-eye view of the action. I’ve never seen surfing photographs that capture the view from “out-there” as well as you have shown here.

    Like Gracie, I’d like a few technical details as to how you created your “look”.

    Jim, “the whole world is not dark and grainy”? We know: this is called poetic license. As John Gladdy says “you pick your stock and use of stock to create a certain VIBE”. If only one way of doing anything was the right way it would get very boring; we may as well … go plant a carrot (nice-one Patricia).

    Chris used HIS viewpoint and HIS technique to show us not only what it looks like to surf the Outer Banks but how it FEELS.

    This body of work succeeds on so many levels that it could be shown in newspapers, magazines, on the gallery wall and in a book. I hope it does all of these Chris. Congratulations.


  • Jim, “Say what you like, photographers, it appears to me, are in real danger of only talking to themselves”?

    I can see this in my minds-eye on the pages of magazines and newspapers and can imagine that any teenager (in age or at heart) thinking “Wow! I want to surf the Outer Banks! I want to LIVE on the Outer Banks!”.

    Glad I never worked for you Jim.


  • I hope Chris will let us know how this does in the marketplace. I would be interested in that.

  • hi jim,

    i like your comments and how you stir up the soup and how the group is “civil” and call you sage instead and not nicely stab you in the back. keep critique coming.

    “how this does in the marketplace?”, well, this appeals to me. i want to go there, to the outer banks, back to my memory. smell the beach again. “after the storm” it says, but it makes me sigh… feel good.

    i am an idgit in taking pictures. and there are a lot of idgits out there like me who probably would pay $4.99 for those pages of pictures from walgreens that would turn your present mind off and take you elsewhere. i dont want to see news. i want to see this.

    btw, i saw chris’ website. it’s great work, love the color play. i guess you should not waste time in telling me how you did these. ill just hit the how-to books.

  • “how this does in the marketplace?”, well, this appeals to me. i want to go there, to the outer banks, back to my memory. smell the beach again. “after the storm” it says, but it makes me sigh… feel good.”

    But when it’s published, will you buy it? That’s the question.

  • Congratulations ! Very beautiful work. Thanks.

  • Reading the 30 responses that have been posted up to now, there is one stupid thought that stands head and shoulders above the others: a technique used to the point of being the first thing its viewers see will be perceived by most of them as a gimmick. Stupid solution? Could be the recipe calls for a cup of sugar, not a truckload. Backing off on your post-process intrusion into each frame might be an idea…

  • jim..

    i did laugh..

    can you not see beyond the process, which is a turn off to you, straight to the meat of the photos and appreciate them on that level if not any other?

    i could see these photos in any number of contexts..

    keep it coming jim


  • I’m a little predisposed to water pictures, biased maybe, so that I fell for these quickly is no surprise. I knew where you were shooting, more or less, from the first image. It is about light. The fields of the ocean. Playing. Being in a place in time that won’t repeat itself. Congratulations. Because a tool exists and has been used before does not make it cliche. We have a long line of tools, from hero epics to creation myths, to shape our world and the space inside our heads. Develop what you see in yours. The tools are not your voice.

  • Chris, I got up this morning to read my daily “Burn” as usual. The weather outside today on the outer banks, coincidentally, has the “dark and stormy” (isn’t that a drink?) look as in many of your photographs. I was taken by the theme of your essay. My surfing began over 40 years ago, so I might be categorized in your 60 year old group. Back then we were a bunch of outcasts, fleeing the mainstream. They thought we were nuts. All we wanted to do was surf more than anything else. Some of us lost jobs, and girlfriends because of it. We had no cell phones, internet or high-tech predictors like today. It was all gut instinct. When the surf was up you went. Nothing else mattered. Similar to surfers of today, we were a minority, a cult separate from the rest of society.

    You have obviously made a sacrifice for the photography. Water shots are very difficult and physically demanding. Sure, you could have gone out on your board instead, and been self-indulgent (not a bad thing), but then we wouldn’t have the good fortune, as viewers, to enjoy your efforts. Getting the exhilaration of the ride is fleeting and preserved only in one’s mind, but the photographs are around to be seen by many for years to come.

    I love the image of Richard and Claire.

    Thanks for your hard work… obviously a labor of love.

  • david, the photos are what they are. The process is part of the image. It would be a little silly to say that if these photos were clear, with normal contrast and printed with full tones then I would like them. They aren’t and I don’t.

  • I have rarely seen an essay photographed with so much emotion. Wonderful work, magic. Ignore anyone who says otherwise.

  • fair enough jim..

    i think the post processing adds to the atmosphere of a set of already strong snaps.. and far as i can see is no barrier to publishing.. certainly not by one the the u.k.´s broadsheet supplements which often in the past have featured heavily bleached, toned and burn´t in work..

    after all.. photos which are ¨clear, with normal contrast and printed with full tones¨ have been done to death, no?


  • Chris…Very very nice work. Makes me want to take up surfing! Reminds me a lot of Trente Parke and Narelle Autio and I mean that in the most positive way. I’m sure you know their great book ‘The Seventh Wave’. Look forward to seeing more…will there be more?


  • david, do you really think these photos would work in print? Backlighted on an LCD monitor punches the image a little. But printed, this stuff would be black ink and paper grey.

  • I agree that the post-processing appears gimmicky. That said, I think 3, 10, 15, 26 are strong images that would look good printed and without the heavy burning, tint, and contrast. I feel the processing comes off as too moody for the place, people, and activity.

  • JIM….

    i am quite sure these would work in print…getting a good black is always a challenge in print as is a clean white, but Chris could print accordingly…Gene Smith style printing would work quite well i think..of course, it all depends on how good a printer you use…but, a good printer can usually make it work out the way you want…but, black & white being much more difficult than color…

  • CHris..

    nyc skies are grey and the apartment buildings stand above me stoic, seeming sleepy and closed off to each other this morning..there is a hush but for the garbage trucks and the pigeon wings..

    and then came you :) thank goodness. your spirit and joy and playfulness and above all your personality shines through in every photo here. you make me remember, smell, taste, feel, smile. certain images alone are stunning, intimate, privileged even to exist. together they come like a wave washing over, a baptism, cleansing away my new york grit.

    As a personal preference, I am not a fan of the color / surface that you have chosen, it detracts for me..but you know what, so what, if this is a part of you… you can’t please everyone in everything.

  • DAH (to separate from the other david), of course he could post process it differently for print, but because of the heavy processing, it would then look different in print. It just seems that he processed the photos to look cool on the web, depending on the punch of the LCD to make it work. The problem there is that monitors are all over the place and what looks one way on his monitor could be coal bin blackness on another.

    On the web or in print, I still don’t like this pervasive tendency to make dark, grainy prints when doing B&W. Street shots at night at ISO 3200 are one thing, where contrast is high and the shot is a real Hail Mary. But to take photos shot in daylight and print them down deliberately just doesn’t work for me.

  • Jim

    “Street shots at night at ISO 3200 are one thing, where contrast is high and the shot is a real Hail Mary”

    boy can you ever say that again..Hail Mary, good one!


  • Chris, I’m with Bob B on this one: 1) I feel like I’ve been waiting FOREVER to see it; and 2) this is a poem to the ocean’s fickle face and the surfers who dream of opening that backdoor through the barrel. Your experienced eye, technical wizardry, heart-knowledge and gripping text all combine to let viewers like me who have only seen surfing from afar enter into the magic as if we were riding the waves and joining the community as insiders. What a rush!

    And to answer one of Jim P’s many questions, I will buy this book no matter how badly the economy tanks!!!

    in gratitude

  • jim.

    i think it would depend upon where the prints were made.. newspaper being toilet paper compared to a book.. i do think one way or another they could be printable with punch..

  • My last comment for this essay:

    1) my wife and i print photographs, YES PRINT IN DARKROOMS, from negatives that are more polluted than these, with more contrast, more grain (my negs are dense as mother-earth coal and clay) and they look great…hard work, hell yea, but they print….I THINK CHRIS’ PRINTS (and the book) AND THE EXHIBITION WILL BE DAZZLING…….i am dumbfounded by the discussion that this kind of work (contrast, grain) will be a failure as prints…what kind of work are people actually seeing,…and i know LOTS OF FOLK (‘ve sp[ent the morning showing the essay to 10 folk who are NOT photographers) will eat this beautiful story and pritns up!….

    2) Has anyone read the text??….why is review of essays, here, always a picture-by-picture dissection…take a read of the text 1st and then swallow the work…

    Im with Patricia :)))): im waiting, hungrily, for the book….and the exhibition…and this question, from a school director/businessman

    “where can i buy his photographs”.

    shiiiiiiiiiiiit :)))))))

    im all over that…

  • 23 & 25 are really good.

    Just because we “can” photograph something at a certain aperture or shutter speed or ISO doesn’t mean we “have” to. After all, normal contrast and even tones are in themselves, used commonly and could be labeled as cliche themselves.

    Something to think about…

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