New Work: Lost Off the Coastal Grid

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

A new client sent me on a new adventure to the Lost Coast, California’s unspoiled shores in search of empty waves with three friends. We brought along Grundens’ new recreational clothing line to keep us dry and warm, as well as camping gear by UCO and a couple action cams by Intova. View the gallery on the website, Industrial Revolution’s blog post here, and enjoy the full story with imagery below:

Kris stretches into the armhole and extends through, pulling a thick black neoprene sleeve up onto his shoulder. In defiance, his own skin bunches and folds with heavy drag. It’s a frustrating and familiar struggle for most. For Kris, it’s merely familiar. Calmly, he uses his other arm to help skirt over the shoulder before his hand pokes through with a distinct pop. His other arm then begins, this same process until the entirety of his 5/3mm wetsuit wraps up around his chest, and in doing so, covers a noticeable 8-inch scar. He is nothing but smiles. Almost giddy. Yeah. He’s giddy. With a quick zip and a pull of the hoodie, he grabs his board and jogs toward the heaving sea, leaving me behind to wrestle with my own suit.

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Less than six months ago Kris suffered a heart attack—unbeknownst to him for days. He continued his work as usual until an increasingly shortened breath finally drove him to the hospital for an exam. He was nonchalant; the doctors were outraged. They called him crazy. They called him lucky. They called for surgery. Six months later, his arteries mended, his breastplate clasped closed, his skin stapled back together, and he is back; a retired teacher-turned contractor, marching miles through wet black sand, pebbles, large stones and crashing surf with three millennials to an isolated California lineup. The coast is calling. Five minutes later, I’m in the water paddling after him.

This is the Lost Coast: a raw, undisturbed land of wonder and contradiction. Graceful yet ferocious. Peaceful yet violent. Evolved yet ancient. It beckons as it warns. It is a shoreline of proud pine-clad cliffs, sturdy golden grass tuffs, and a thrashing blue-green Pacific Ocean. Kelp beds float below shore birds. Barking seals leap through the surface on wild hunts. Whales breach at the sun’s horizon and few onlookers gawk at the natural beauty. This natural beauty is undeniable, at times unbelievable, and yet few onlookers chance to gawk. To take the time and energy to hike out to this wild backcountry requires a strong willingness and preparedness that gratefully we possessed. Streams supply the drinking water. All else is packed in and packed out.

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

With 10 pounds of food each (40 pounds total), stuffed into four bear canisters, packed next to clothes, cooking gear, tents, hammocks, sleeping bags, wetsuits and 6-foot surfboards, our backpacks weighed in at over 80 pounds. I struggled; this was by far the heaviest pack I’d ever carried. My two other 30-some-year-old friends also struggled. I could only imagine what post-surgery Kris felt under the weight and excessive heat we endured while hiking out. But still he and we trod on. We scrambled ridges, tiptoed intertidal zones, and silently tested every motivating mantra we’d ever heard, until finally descending the yellow grass bluff into camp. The waves were pumping. The view was stunning. For a few moments, the pain in our weakened knees and aching hips went unnoticed. Green lines interspersed with whitewash as backlit waves peeled into evanescent barrels. We dropped our packs, chugged our remaining water, and suited up. I was the last in the lineup. Kris is definitely crazy. And we’re all lucky.

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

For six days and five nights, we stared at the western horizon. Whether bobbing in the water or resting on land, we became transfixed on the incoming swell. We learned what tides the breaks worked best, whether it was at the point or river mouth, and analyzed each potential crest. Which direction was the wind? Where were the exposed rocks and hidden threats? Was the tide incoming? Outgoing? What was it yesterday, and how is the swell moving in relation to the beach? Parallel or straight onshore? I hope it’s onshore. I hope it’s low tide now with an incoming swell. I hope it’s a building swell. Chest high. Head high. Two-feet overhead. Offshore winds. Our minds danced like monkeys, utterly consumed by the now, the physical. Our senses were elevated by the stillness and simplicity of life off the grid. We had carved out a forbidden space—a temporary break from our familial and business lives—our concurrent realities behind and looming ahead. We had found that other part of ourselves, which exists only in great solitude.

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

The sun beat down on our shirtless bodies and blasted our squinting eyes. We rehydrated with hot drinks and fresh filtered water. We cooked large meals to quench our appetites, slowly emptied our heavy bear canisters, and let time disappear from our minds. All was sunrise or sunset, and we didn’t care. Our attentions were on the waves, and when it was on—low to incoming tide—we were as young as ever. We were mere children hyped on an inexhaustible spoon of liquid sugar. Bottomless. Boundless. Endless.

We surfed for hours, until our toes went numb from the cold and our legs reminded us of our arduous hike. Sam from Ocean Beach was always the first out. Seemingly impervious to the long hours in the water, Sam had the luxury of surfing almost yearlong in the punishing OB breaks. Kris, Skyler and I, though accustomed to a shorter season, were at least used to the cold waters—our Pacific Northwest temperaments adjusted to feeling numb year-round. Despite our differences, we were all aligned to one indisputable truth: not in our wildest dreams could we have imagined surfing in a pristine California location, miles away from road or highway, without anyone to share the waves but ourselves. Nothing can prepare you for this pleasure.

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

For two days, the swell dropped as a thick impenetrable fogbank closed over our heads. We still got in the water, but now when the kelp licked our toes and bumped the bottom of our boards, it was no longer ticklish fun. It was unsettling. We looked out towards an unseen horizon. The curious fear had finally crept into the consciousness. This was shark country—and the appearance of the fog exacerbated this feeling. Weeks prior, Sam had sent us a video of a great white leaping out of the OB lineup. It was a subtle reminder of where we were headed and of the predator’s unspoken omnipotence. So we stayed tight, waiting quietly through the lulls and shivering in the cold as each passing kelp frond made its presence known.

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Then one morning the fog was gone. The breeze was offshore, and the swell was building. As usual, we were up at dawn and down patrolling the waves before we could wipe the sleep from our eyes. The surf was immaculate; powerful, big, green, and beautiful. We rode them like they were the last waves of our lives. With the hazy mountains to our backs, we looked hopefully up and down the coast, as though searching for some way to prolong the trip or slow down time itself. Despite this, the hours slipped by, the tide came in, and soon we were spent, as was our time at camp. With heavy regret, we walked onto dry land, packed camp, and as if we were never there, departed. Sam couldn’t stop turning back at the unridden waves and the cruel beauty of the teasing sea. Nobody in sight. No boards but our own. We left the coast lost once more.

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Right before sunset, as we wrapped up our 10 miles back with lighter packs and fuller memories, we came upon a dead grey whale. It lay motionless in the surf; its sides scoured with huge, gaping bite marks. The unmistakable work of the sharks—the ones likely near us, beneath us, and possibly upon us if it weren’t for this feast they had won. Now on land, we could more openly visualize what had been lurking in the waves and may still be just beyond the reach of the whale. And shuddering, we thanked the brave beast for its sacrifice—a fitting reminder of the celebration we had just experienced.

Sure, call us crazy. But we say we’re lucky—to be free, alone with friends, and surfing the spotless lineup along a stretch of one of California’s unspoiled coastlines. The little peril, mostly imagined, is but a small price for this wholly real reward.

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Surfing the Lost Coast with Grundens and Industrial Revolution's UCO and Intova

Vodou Footprints: Levoy Exil – Saint Soleil’s Vodou Mystic

_N9A3774

Levoy Exil is an artist. He’s from Haiti. He lives in Haiti. He is a visionary with deep roots into the mysticism of Haitian vodou. “I have revelations when I’m asleep. In black and white. The black is the body, the white is the spirit. I sing the song of creation to Damballah. I offer him blue, white and mauve. There are lines of dots all around the shapes, in relief. There are dots of light. The red is part of the body. It’s also a symbol of goodness, and it’s good for healing too. Damballah is a snake, made up of all colors.”

Levoy is an original member of the famous Haitian artistic movement called Saint Soleil, which began in 1972. Inspired by vodou religion and the cosmological energies called loa, or vodou spirits, St Soleil (Holy Sun) grew from the peasant mountainsides outside of Port-au-Prince into an internationally-renowned style specific to the culture of Haiti. Levoy still practices the art of the movement, and today is an icon of Haitian creativity and vodou symbology, helping bring to light the true beauty of this ancient belief system.

_N9A3758

_N9A3771

_N9A3741

logo_blackTrajan

A Trip to Yellow Island with The Nature Conservancy

Sunday was spent driving, boating and walking onto a privately-owned island that few have ever explored. The Nature Conservancy of Washington guided it’s members out to Yellow Island, a small islet southwest of Orcas Island. Leaving Anacortes on a chartered boat, we cut over the calm chilled green waters of a north Puget Sound swirling under sharp blue skies. With Mt. Baker and the Cascades brooding with white summits, the twin 80hp engines sped us into the passages where ferries filled with tourists criss-crossed through the San Juan Islands.

Yellow Island is an 11-acre landmass with over 50 wild flowers bursting in spring air. Once we arrived on its pebbly shores, hummingbirds darted from blossom to blossom across the ancient prairie land. Before the arrival of Europeans, indigenous peoples settled the island and frequently burned the landscape to sustain its prairie land. Few of the original burn scars can be found on the oldest tree trunks. In 1979 the island was purchased by The Nature Conservancy and thus preserved as part of Washington State’s pristine environmental heritage.

A link to The Nature Conservancy’s Washington Nature blog:  Exploring the Gem of the San Juan Islands

TNC_YellowIsland-5

TNC_YellowIsland-19

Leaving Anacortes, WA

TNC_YellowIsland-37

TNC_YellowIsland-72

TNC_YellowIsland-65

TNC_YellowIsland-615

TNC_YellowIsland-578

Ferries shuttling tourists through the San Juan Islands

TNC_YellowIsland-583

TNC_YellowIsland-539

TNC_YellowIsland-605

TNC_YellowIsland-115

Yellow Island

TNC_YellowIsland-541

TNC_YellowIsland-119

TNC_YellowIsland-148

TNC_YellowIsland-180

TNC_YellowIsland-210

TNC_YellowIsland-203

TNC_YellowIsland-259

TNC_YellowIsland-280

TNC_YellowIsland-273

TNC_YellowIsland-232

TNC_YellowIsland-299

TNC_YellowIsland-297

Burn scars to sustain the prairie landscape

TNC_YellowIsland-384

TNC_YellowIsland-378

The Nature Conservancy scientist Paul answers questions by a TNC member

TNC_YellowIsland-418

TNC_YellowIsland-381

An employee of TNC who has lived on and cared for Yellow Island for 17 years

TNC_YellowIsland-490

TNC_YellowIsland-488

TNC_YellowIsland-508

logo_blackTrajan

Bloomberg Businessweek Shoot: Willapa Bay’s Future w/Neonicotinoids

KimPatten_Bloomberg-5

Last week I was called by Bloomberg and headed to Willapa Bay in southwestern Washington to photograph WSU scientist Kim Patten and the surrounding environment of Bay Center, WA. Waking up at 2:30am on Monday, I spent the morning driving 3hrs to catch a clear sunrise over the waters, which have been the center of Washington’s oyster industry for generations. At over 260 square miles, the bay nearly empties at low tide, creating the second largest estuary on the U.S.’s west coast. But a local shrimp has been disrupting the area’s economy for too long, suffocating oyster beds as the crustacean burrows 1 to 2 feet beneath the surface, turning mudflats into quicksand. The published article is available in the link and the selects from the morning’s shoot are below.

Bloomberg Businessweek: Washington State Turns to Neurotoxins to Save Its Oysters

KimPatten_Bloomberg-23

KimPatten_Bloomberg-10

KimPatten_Bloomberg-63

A pile of discarded oyster shells are left in the sun so organic matter can decompose before being bagged and placed back in the water as a refuge for young oyster seed.

KimPatten_Bloomberg-51

KimPatten_Bloomberg-44

KimPatten_Bloomberg-68

KimPatten_Bloomberg-77

KimPatten_Bloomberg-88

KimPatten_Bloomberg-105

KimPatten_Bloomberg-112

KimPatten_Bloomberg-122

KimPatten_Bloomberg-137

Long-line oyster beds stretch across the tidal flats of Willapa Bay as a front of morning fog recedes westward.

KimPatten_Bloomberg-157

Old oyster shells wrapped in bags ready for delivery outside an oyster nursery

KimPatten_Bloomberg-147

KimPatten_Bloomberg-150

KimPatten_Bloomberg-142

KimPatten_Bloomberg-207

WSU scientist and researcher Kim Patten uses a clam digger to pull out an invasive shrimp from one to two feet beneath the mud.

KimPatten_Bloomberg-252

KimPatten_Bloomberg-227

A male and female shrimp (the female is carrying orange egg sacks)

KimPatten_Bloomberg-261

KimPatten_Bloomberg-295

KimPatten_Bloomberg-272

KimPatten_Bloomberg-392

KimPatten_Bloomberg-334

KimPatten_Bloomberg-349

KimPatten_Bloomberg-364

KimPatten_Bloomberg-289

KimPatten_Bloomberg-338

KimPatten_Bloomberg-381

KimPatten_Bloomberg-399

KimPatten_Bloomberg-403

An oyster shucker in Bay Center, WA

KimPatten_Bloomberg-430

KimPatten_Bloomberg-484

KimPatten_Bloomberg-458

KimPatten_Bloomberg-497

KimPatten_Bloomberg-510

KimPatten_Bloomberg-534

logo_blackTrajan

Eddie Adams Workshop 2013 – The Monticello Motor Club

_N9A9407

Attending the 26th Eddie Adams Workshop was like stepping into a stadium at bat.  The pitcher was Randy Johnson and you were expected to preform like any of the greats because in the audience master photographers like Jodi Cobb, Gregory Heisler, Howard Schatz and Marco Grob watched on.  Their friends were there, including AP photographer Rodrigo Abd, Afghan photographer Zalmai, young gun Peter Yang and more.  And they brought their friends; Directors of Photography like AP’s Santiago Lyon, Nat Geo’s Photo Editor Elizabeth Grist and Time’s Photo Editor Kira Pollack.  That was just to name a few, and they were there among others, watching, waiting to see you preform your work.

One hundred students were selected from a vast pool of applicants, and these one hundred students were given a free 4-day workshop with the industry’s best of the best.  All we had to do was get there.  So we show up at B+H Photo in New York City with ants in our pants, butterflies in our stomachs.  We’re loaded up in vans and buses and head north into the Catskills of Upstate New York.  We arrive at The Barn, the late and great Eddie Adams’ home away from home.  Teams are selected, we’re divided up.  Myself and nine other students have our work cut out for ourselves:  Our team leader was AP photographer based in Peru, Rodrigo Abd; our team producer was freelance photographer who covered the last elections Eric Thayer; and our team editor was a man larger then his title, AP Director of Photography Santiago Lyon.

Our theme: The Golden Years.  My personal assignment: The Monticello Motor Club.

While we were not shooting, we were listening to speakers, whose particular list resides above.  The inspiration soaked within our blood and bones for the talent and passion within the Barn’s room permeated every living cellular structure.  It was simply awe-striking for everyone attending, participating, facilitating and preforming.  When not listening to speakers, we were sharing our excitement with new young colleagues, and sitting down with the industry’s leaders for portfolio reviews.  Sleep found us at the wee hours in the morning before rising once more an hour or two later for breakfast and departure.

As I said, my team’s theme was The Golden Years, an idea reflecting on our elders, the joy they receive to keep them young, vibrant and passionate.  Below is the produced work, with a link at the end to view the full multimedia slideshow, including audio.

_N9A8558

title

_N9A8548

_N9A8526

_N9A9351

_N9A9387

_N9A8677

_N9A8673

_N9A9036

_N9A9316

For more please visit the entire multimedia piece at The Monticello Motor Club: A Day’s Race Away

Cameron Karsten Photography

Africa – People + Places

Cultures-ClashI’ve been sifting through imagery as I prepare to head to New York City for the 2013 Eddie Adams Workshop and meetings with potential clients.  What I’ve found has allowed me to relive the beautiful memories of past travels and the people and places I met.  Here, Africa represents itself in all its wondrous enjoyment, with the hopes of near returns on future assignments.

DSC_0086-(4)---Version-3Hamar, Omo Valley, Ethiopia

DSC_0206---Version-3Somewhere in the Afar Desert, Ethiopia

Gold-Stars,-Happy-FacesThe Layla House Adoption House, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

DSC_0179---Version-3The streets of Lagos, Nigeria

DSC_0024---Version-2The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Nairobi, Kenya

DSC_0307-(1)---Version-5Hamar boy, Omo Valley, Ethiopia

High-RisenDiani Beach, Kenya

DSC_0009-(4)---Version-3Hamar girls, Omo Valley, Ethiopia

Tuti-AliveTuti, Omo Valley, Ethiopia

For more please visit: Travel

Cameron Karsten Photography

Seattle Central Creative Academy: Photography Assignment (Wedding Poses)

Location: Cal Anderson Park, Seattle, WA

Model: Various

Camera/Lens Specifics: Canon 5D Mark II with Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 USM Lens

variety of settings, ISO 100, handheld.

Post: Adobe LR4 & PS5

For more weddings and portraits by Cameron Karsten Photography please visit: CK Weddings

Seattle Central Creative Academy: Photography Assignment (Dusk Strobes)

Matt Kuntz at home on Bainbridge Island, WA, working on his Mustang during sunset.

Location: Bainbridge Island, WA

Model: Matt Kuntz

Camera/Lens Specifics: Canon 5D Mark III with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Zoom Lens

composite w/variety of settings, ISO 100, tripod.

Post: Adobe LR4 & PS5

Seattle Central Creative Academy: Photography Assignment (Glamour Narrative)

Three shots in three separate scenes, telling the same story within a narrative series.  It tells the tale of a model of three eras of fashion: the 60s, 80s and modern.  As a model, she’s on the journey of her career.  Although she has it all – the beauty, the clothes, the style and money – she finds herself at a crossroads seeking more, but is subsequently slipping into a lifestyle she’s becoming all-too familiar with.

Location: Bainbridge Island, WA

Model: Morgan Terry

Stylist: LK

Camera/Lens Specifics: Canon 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Telephoto Lens

variety of settings, ISO 100, tripod mount.

Post: Adobe LR3 & PS5

Seattle Central Creative Academy: Photography Assignment (Fill Light)

Tobacco-smoked meat; it’s what’s for dinner.  This is my “still-life food” shot for an anti-smoking advertisement.  Originally I sought to make the meat look like a heart hooked and strung-up over a smoking ashtray, but the meat just looks like meat.  Next time, I’ll get a realistic-looking heart and blacken it a little more to show the ill-fated effects of smoking cigarettes.

Window light was the light source to camera left and an off-camera Canon 580EX II Speedlite bouncing off a silver reflector was the fill at camera right.

Location: CK Studio, Bainbridge Island, WA

Camera/Lens Specifics: Canon 5D Mark II with Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens

100mm, 1/10 sec at ƒ/6.3, ISO 100, tripod mount.

Post: Adobe LR3 & PS5