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22 July 2015

Once upon a time (well, it was actually May 1907) in Waikiki, a big man in a onesie sunk his feet into the sand next to his wife Charmain. They were on their way around the world in their 43-foot ketch called the Snark with a contract from his publisher.

He took a break to learn how to surf. And he wrote Surfing: The Royal Sport to tell his readers at the Women's Home Companion magazine what he had learned:

The whole method of surf-riding and surf-fighting, I learned, is one of non-resistance. Dodge the blow that is struck at you. Dive through the wave that is trying to slap you in the face. Sink down, feet first, deep under the surface, and let the big smoker that is trying to smash you go by far overhead. Never be rigid. Relax. Yield yourself to the waters that are ripping and tearing at you. When the undertow catches you and drags you seaward along the bottom, don't struggle against it. If you do, you are liable to be drowned, for it is stronger than you. Yield yourself to that undertow. Swim with it, not against it, and you will find the pressure removed. And, swimming with it, fooling it so that it does not hold you, swim upward at the same time. It will be no trouble at all to reach the surface.

The ocean is just three miles from here. And 900 feet down. We keep a respectful distance. But still we surf.

That photo is what we call a big wave. Tremendous force, which can send you down quite a while. It builds up slowly and then unleashes its power. Mazza, Gordon, Leopardi, Gautier, Fitzgerald.... You can forget to come up for air.

You can spend hours underwater online too. That's the modern version. Chasing a thought from one link to another. Arriving in a foam of speech bubbles that is anything but clear. Or losing your board in the curl and becoming disoriented, unable to tell up from down, east from west.

The morning light seemed to fall on the breaking books, leaving the wall of wonders in shadow.

As Jack London advised, the trick is to relax. Go with the flow.

The flow here started when we left the bunker to take our empty coffee cup upstairs to the kitchen. The morning light seemed to fall on the breaking books, leaving that wall of wonders in shadow.

We grabbed the Polaris Karat and took an incident light reading to avoid being fooled by the bright books. Not encouraging. The wave was breaking too high for us. ISO 800 at least.

We grabbed a tripod so we could use a shutter speed a good bit lower, upped the ISO to a compromise of 640 with an aperture of f6.3 and a focal length of 15mm to frame the shot. The Polaris Karat told us to use a shutter speed of 1/10 second. We shifted to the tripod so we could do that.

But we were up on our feet now, riding the wave.

We navigated the DNG through Piccure+ then sailed the TIFF through Photoshop CC 2015 using Adobe Camera Raw. Then we spun it through the Nik Collection's Color Efex Pro 4 where we used the Vignette Blur with a size of 13 percent to concentrate the attention on the front of the wave instead of the whole ocean.

Adobe, Piccure, Creative Cloud, Google.... It was a blast.

We rode in standing up, resizing the image to our 500-pixel Web photo dimensions and creating a thumbnail for the parade on top.

You don't have to drink the ocean to swallow some sea water.

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