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  • Writer's pictureDave Pidgeon

Skimboarding in Cape May

Silhouette of a skimboarder during morning at the beach

LOCATION: Outside the Grand Hotel of Cape May, Cape May, N.J.

THE EQUIPMENT: Canon EOS 6D | EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

GPS: 38°55'53.31" N 74°54'25.1172" W

THE STORY: Sometimes when you use a new lens, it can be a revelation.

It opens a new world and new possibilities. It can be electric in your hands and in your creative mind.

If you ever find yourself in a creative rut with photography, grab a lens you've never used or have little experience with. Keep it on for an hour or a week or a month.

It's the perfect caffeine injection for your photography malaise.

I was attending a week-long photography conference in the famous town of Cape May, spending days learning wedding photography and off-camera-flash techniques.

The good folks from Canon had set up a table at the hotel that hosted the workshop, and they allowed us eager (and cash poor) newbie photographers to give lenses and cameras a test drive.

My desire latched on to one lens in particular. One lens I did not have in my arsenal. One lens (that I'm not ashamed to admit) created a pavlovian response.

The 100-400mm telephoto.

Getting 400mm in a lens can be like the moment the driver of a car unexpectedly slams the accelerator down. Your whole body lurches backward, and when your stomach finally settles and the adrenaline is fully tapped, you're simply thinking "woh" at the idea a machine can be that powerful.

I took the 100-400mm out to the beach pre-dawn, and there happened to be a skimboarder about 75 yards away.

The moment, the color, the silhouette, and the lens all came together. I stood at a rock jetty pretending to be photographing crabs or early morning boats, but actually, I was nabbing this surfer doing his thing.

A skimboarder runs on the beach toward the ocean before sunrise.

The anticipation, the running, the quick-shifting color of morning on the Atlantic coast, the capabilities of a 400mm telephoto lens at my eye, God how I loved it all.

I was hooked. I would spend years coveting that 400mm lens until I finally had the capabilities to buy one.

I don't know who this surfer is. Don't know his name, where he's from, or whether he still skimboards. But that morning he became the inspiration, one I've never forgotten, one that nearly 10 years later can be credited with an interest in sports photography that eventually led to me owning my own business.

Dave Pidgeon is a seasoned writer and photographer. He lives with his three sons in Lancaster, Pa., and owns Creative Sports Photography.


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