Sept.  09



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 US Open - HB



US Open - Huntington Beach


Pat Gudauskas riding a barrel at the US Open of Surfing held in Huntington Beach in late July.  This is the only surfing competition that I attend where you can shoot from the pier or the beach.  The pier is definitely worthwhile, especially with larger waves. 


This year was really exciting because we could trace a hurricane moving through the South Pacific that was affecting the surf in Huntington Beach.  The contest was held over a one week period and the waves just got bigger and bigger.  Friday (Round 24) and Saturday (Round 16) were spectacular. 


I shot from the pier both days along with thousands of others on the pier and several hundred thousand on the beach over the term of the contest which included some other beach activities behind the surf zone. The best spots on the pier were taken at 5:30 in the morning with the contest starting at 8:00 AM each day.


The contest could be summarized by great waves, great surfers, and lousy weather particularly for photography due to the low cloud cover.  The images were post processed to the max to minimize the effects of the heavy marine layer.  Distant images taken at 800mm were even more difficult to process.


Notice that there are no images of the semi finals or the finals on Sunday.  I got to the beach before 6:00 AM on Sunday, set up my equipment on an already crowded  beach and took a few practice shoots.  Absolutely nothing was in focus.  I checked out the LCD finder on the back of the camera body with a loupe and still nothing in focus.  Played with the focus a couple times, turned the camera on and off a couple times, and everything was still out of focus.  Even with manual focus, I could not get sharp images at infinity.  In total frustration, I grabbed my equipment and left the beach to try and figure out what was wrong.  Sunday was the only day that I didn't drag along my 80-400 to capture closer shots and ironically Sunday was the day that my 300-800 failed.


The Sigmonster was subsequently sent to Sigma Repair in New York where the entire auto focus mechanism was replaced for in excess of $1,200.  This is the 3rd time that the lens has been repaired, the first 2 times under warranty.  I don't think I've ever had a Nikon lens that needed repair.  I learned that in the future, when shooting primarily with Sigma lenses, always bring a backup lens.  There are enough positive benefits of using the Sigma's big glass zooms to use them, just bring a backup lens in case. 


The image was captured on a DSLR with 300-800 zoom lens at F8 on carbon fiber tripod with Gimbal head. 


 Additional images can be viewed here