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Picture Perfect: Surf's Up

El Niño delivers in La Jolla


Date of Photo:
December 8, 2015

Black’s Beach, La Jolla

Canon EOS-1D X, Canon 16-13mm f/2.8L II lens at 16mm, 1/1000 sec. at f/11, ISO 800, with SPL water housing

Mark Johnson has been photographing surfers in action for nearly 40 years. So when capturing the perfect shot meant diving headfirst into eight-foot swells, he didn’t think twice. “Wide angle shooting on a day like this also means you suffer more beatdowns,” says the Del Mar writer and photographer, who snapped this shot of surfer Bart Schade. “I was able to swim into a position, grab the shot, then kick hard with my fins to not get sucked over the falls. Of course, shooting from this angle meant I got hammered by the next waves in the set!”

The conditions were a welcome result of the winter’s first El Niño swell, which created an ideal backdrop at Johnson’s go-to location. “From the glowing cliffs to the powerful, hollow waves, Black’s is a magical place.”

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