Rough water royalty and pro photographer, Carl Tjerandsen has graciously contributed some shots and thoughts to be posted here on the Sea Sherpa Kayak site. I'm super psyched about it and not just because of the quality of his camera craft. Carl was also super supportive and instrumental in my developing paddling addiction starting back when I was nothing but a pollywog.
This shot was taken in January, the winter between my 1st and 2nd year of sea kayaking. This is my first composite kayak (NDK Explorer) and was also the first time I was invited to play with the local big dog pack. It was an epic day that is still talked about.
Shortly after this shot was taken, a wave ate my lunch for me and I suffered an "out of boat experience", somehow allowing my brandy new boat to get away from me. Once back-deck carried to shore, I had a magnificent view of my new kayak, deep in a tide race wave train, headed out to Block Island. There's a mistake you only have to make once. While the others wisely hung back at a safe distance from the bucking Explorer, John T somehow got hold of the boat and towed it back. Coincidentally, he was also the one who had just brought me back to shore. Super athletic stunt for sure.
It was time for a lunch break. Head hung low and tail between my legs, I didn't have much to say. Had totally been caught with my pants down in front of the local luminaries. It was freezing out and when Carl asked about what the post break plans were, it was obvious that the group was intending on heading back. Wanting a shot at redemption/vengeance I piped up that I was game for another round. Carl literally responded with a "atta boy", obviously meant to pat my back and shame the old salts. Crux move Maestro - nicely played.
This shot of Ronny G was from the same day. One of my favorites from the Carl Collection. Part of the key to these sorts of pictures is the use of a telephoto lens. The exact opposite of a Go Pro type shot, a "long" lens stack elements (foreground, mid and background) close to each other. Distances are compressed. In this case, the field of play was quite deep but the composition looks Ron is in a tight minefield.
Even high-end, waterproof cameras or dedicated pro models in a waterproof housing, can't usually sport such a long lens. Carl, being the dedicated pro, takes a bullet most of us avoid by being willing to lose out on precious playtime (especially true in tidal situations where max is a limited period) by finding on shore places to shoot where he can use the fancy camera rig with the telephoto lens.
Back in the early days of Sea Sherpa, I had the pleasure of doing a lot of programming with Ben Lawry: World renowned instructor, surf ski racer and big water fanatic. Carl wrote of this shot "Hurricane Katia, 2011, Napatree Point. Biggest storm break I have ever seen – including Matunuck. Ben jumped right in". Carl, Nick Schade and myself headed out to Napatree Point, just east of what locals refer to as "The Molars" there was a massive line of breaking surf that broke deep, as usual there, but had storm energy so the waves made it into the shore. Action figure Carl, took advantage and hopped out to grab some shots. Ben was able to catch multiple long runs. Impressive.
Sea Sherpa Kayak has been joining forces with Guilemot Kayak to offer the Schoodic Retreat. Warning: The link is to a shameless promo of the 2020 version of the event. It's an annual fine living, rock gardening and fantastic scenery exploratorium. We've brought Carl on since the beginning as our pro shooter. This shot is of one of the pods poking around a sea cave on an offshore island. While the event itself has been very well attended, Carl's making his photos freely available to participants has been insanely popular. An additional benefit to having him there is that he has started to hold a "night sky interpretive tour" complete with a powerful telescope and laser pointer which somehow seems to draw a line right to the stars he is highlighting. The effect is something out of a sci fi film.
The skills and dedication it takes to pull off really good photos in a marine environment, let alone while playing active water, is impressive. The long lens/solid platform shooting is part of the reason so many folks surf - that and the tight wetsuit wearing and semi nude dress code. I'm sure that if more paddlers took better quality shots and got them out there for people to see, sea kayaking would be a more popular sport.
Please Note: Included photos may be subject to copyright protection.
Photo Credits: Carl Tjerandsen
Sea Sherpa Kayak LLC specializes in coaching kayakers of all levels of experience in the black arts of open water paddling. While located in the Connecticut/Rhode Island area, which enjoys fantastic tide race, surf and rock gardening options, we often do events in far flung, exotic waters including the Pacific Northwest, Baja, California, Tybee Island and most often, the spectacular coast of Maine. We offer group classes, privates and custom events. Contact us at Sea Sherpa Kayak LLC and sign up for our newsletter, or connect with us on Facebook