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  • Writer's pictureDave Pidgeon

Surfing on a San Diego morning

Updated: Jul 22, 2023

Despite the reluctance I might feel about it at night, the truth is I've never regretted getting up early to make images.

Okay, so using the word "never" might be hyperbolic, but the rate of happiness and success far exceeds expectations.

When my wife and I traveled to San Diego, staying in Mission Beach, our body time clocks had not yet adjusted to the three-hour time difference between the West and East coasts.

That meant getting up at 4 a.m. San Diego time. The sun didn't come up until 6:40 a.m.

But that meant when it did, I was plenty awake and ready to go for that sweet early morning light.

I went down to the beach because I wanted to capture surfing for the first time.

A woman surfers in the Pacific Ocean.
Morning light catches a surfer at Mission Beach in San Diego.

I knew I wasn't going to get massive rolling waves, but who cares? I just wanted to capture what I saw, and San Diego did not disappoint.

About a dozen surfers showed up. I did too, but instead of a long or short board, I had my super telephoto lens at the ready.

Shin-deep in the cold water, I learned how fun capturing surfers could be. Just anticipating the motion, the quick turn, the splash of surf.

The sun was so low on the horizon that it cast shadows through some nearby palm trees onto the Pacific, and when surfers like this woman passed from shadow to light, it was gorgeous.

Dave Pidgeon is a seasoned writer and photographer from Lancaster, Pa. You can reach him at

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