#1362. Surf’s Up

By Ian Varkevisser | Terroir

May 29
Nestled in a corner of False Bay at the foot of the mountains lies the Surfing hub of Muizenburg. False Bay so named because mariners of old when rounding the southern tip of Africa often mistook it for Table Bay , Cape Town. Muizenburg is Dutch for 'mice mountain' though I can honestly say I have never seen any around. It was apparently named though after Wynand Willem Muijs who commanded a small outpost on the shore of Zandvlei in 1743.

Off in the distance in the bay is Seal Island , the buffet table of the great white shark. And if in doubt on the slopes of the mountain lies a shark spotters hut manned from sunrise to sunset , whose purpose is to radio down warnings to the beach life savers.

On any giving day of the year from before sunrise till after sunset hundreds of surfers may be spotted in the breaks.

Agatha Christie's first contact with water sports occurred in February 1922 when she and her first husband, Archibald Christie, "surf bathed with planks" for the first time in Muizenberg, South Africa.

The board used by the novelist at the now famous surf spot is somehow a crossover between a paipo and a water ski - thin, narrow, smooth, and featuring a rounded nose.

These boards had already been used in Muizenberg since 1904. They were around five feet long and 18 inches wide.

Today Muizenberg is home to the well known "Surfers Corner", where surf shops and surf schools are present in abundance.

Way out on the split ends of surfing's fringe, exists an anachronistic little wooden surfboard company called Wawa where quality, respect for the roots of surfing and a belief in the sanctity of nature are cornerstones of their business.

Here they build wooden surfboards that are inspired by the intuited hydronamic genius of the ancient Hawaiian board builders. Boards are built from woods such as Swamp Cypress, Pencil Cedar and Redwood. Selected for lightness and durability.

The iconic Gary's Surf School is the oldest surf school in Cape town and was established in 1989.

Any number of surfboards, sunglasses and wet suits in all shapes and sizes are available in the shops situated on beach road.

Today we Hang Ten in Surfer's Corner with a roll of E-Film Pastel Vibes loaded in camera, shooting 1 stop over exposed. Hopefully the results are not too crushed shadows and to our fearless leader's liking this time. ;)

P.S. shot in an afternoon with this blog in mind. I normally try very hard to limit the images to 10-15. In light of Pascals’s recent post of magnificent brevity , apologies for the anhedonia dopamine rush. Lets hope they release a pill for that soon – operation warp speed con desperately needed.


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  • PaulB says:


    Surf Central! What a place. Where ever you are.

    Your images bring back my own visions of what I remember about being around the surfing lifestyle, from California to Hawaii.

    More please.


    • Ian Varkevisser says:

      Hi Paul,

      Glad they bring back fond memories.

      more ? – Already way exceeded the quota per post – don’t want to be banned for spam ๐Ÿ™‚

  • John Wilson says:

    Ina – Looks like a fun place to hang out and photograph. You keep reminding me of things I need to do … a post on cars and one on Long Beach, the surfing capitol of Canada.

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    All the year around?
    Surfers must be immune to cold water…

    Reminds me, I saw a film (on TV) about a (much smaller) surfing “paradise” in the very north of Norway – not around the year, though, as at e.g. Lofoten.
    – – –

    Interesting with overexposures…
    First they just seemed strange,
    but then they grew on me!
    That certainly enhances many of your photos.

    And gives me a feeling of a too intense sun!
    ( At this time of the year?)

    • Ian Varkevisser says:

      Surfers in wetsuits are immune to cold water and common sense ๐Ÿ˜‰

      The over exposure is called for as part of the E-Film to bring out the pastel effect to its fullest.

      Previously in other blog posts here I have not fully overexposed to 1 stop.

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        > “…common sense.”
        I’ve heard divers in documentaries tell about how frozen they are after a long dive. And they most probably have thicker wet suits!
        And they haven’t even felt the chilling windโ€ฆ
        – – –

        Yes, the pastel colours do shine in many of your photos.
        ( But in some I wonder if it was only +1EV?)

  • Jon Maxim says:

    Hi Ian,

    What I love about your posts is how you are always experimenting. I’m glad you explained that you were intentionally overexposing or I would have thought: I wonder if Ian’s eyesight is going. It’s good to know what vibe you are going for. It let’s my imagination wander free and see new possibilities and create new moods. Who cares if the highlights get crushed (with apologies to Pascal) – it just means that it is another art form.

    Really enjoyed it.

    • Ian Varkevisser says:

      keep coming back for more Jon. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      the highlights may be occasionally ‘blown out’ but the overexposure uses the E-Film as it was designed to give it a pastel look and bring out the shadows – about which there has been some discussion around Fuji crushing them too far.

      • pascaljappy says:

        Hi Ian, hear hear. That emulation is wonderful. Everything looks light and airy, but the highlights are super well preserved. I love it. And, yeah, that frequent darkening of open shadows is absent here. Super cool and vibrant. I love it.

        I sense a dig about my brevity, but don’t quite get it ๐Ÿ˜‰ Cheers

        • Ian Varkevisser says:

          glad the emulation finally meets your stamp of approval – not enough to convince you to give up your brick though I am sure ๐Ÿ˜‰

          sometimes even the best of us cannot resist the anhedonia dopamine rush lol

  • jeanpierreguaron660@gmail.com says:

    Ian – it’s definitely “different”.

    I find I’m developing a new style, a personal one, one that suits prints rather than electronic reproduction like computers etc – ร  chacun son goรปt, each to their own.

    One blatant difference is that I seem to have something of a fetish about correcting verticals, which doesn’t seem to interest you at all.

    The colours, the tonality are obviously personal choices. Back in the days of black & white, you couldn’t have had that much colour anyway – unless of course you went with Kodacolor, which was the opposite extreme to these images! (Actually I hated it, so I stuck with B&W).

    Overall it reminds me of a place & time a long way away – when I used to shove my roast in the oven, wrapped in foil to prevent it drying or burning, set on a low temperature so it could never overcook before I got home, and go to the beach for the rest of the day. I’m afraid those days are long since past, so it was fun to see someone else’s romp in the sun and the waves.

    • Ian Varkevisser says:

      Hi Pete,

      Being a practitioner the anti-manual and mostly a street shooter – perfect verticals and horizontals are not a rule for me , no. This is a family channel so we won’t go an further down the route of your fetishes ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ lol.

      Some will agree with the look on the subject matter others may not.

      c’est la vie.

      • jeanpierreguaron660@gmail.com says:

        Ian if we all did the same thing, there wouldn’t be any point in sharing our images with each other!

        (And don’t worry about my fetishes – I’m far to old to have any of those any longer).

  • Philberphoto says:

    Brilliant, Ian! You make it all come alive and interesting! As far as images go, my faves are the cheeky one with the Vespa scooter, the two beach ones, and the spotter hut. Congrats and thanks!

  • Pascal O. says:

    As always, cool pictures, Ian, thank you!
    I love the pastel figures and those beach pictures remind me how spectacular they are in South Africa.
    How did you take picture #3 to have such a overview? Vantage point? Drone?
    Thanks again.

    • Ian Varkevisser says:

      Hi Pascal,

      Picture #3 was take standing on the wall at the Shark Spotters hut – see pic #2

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