I stood there, toes cold, on the sand just south of the Oceanside Pier. The icy ocean water had just seeped through the thick hide of my hiking boots from a moment when, about an hour earlier, I stood stock still snapping a shot while the encroaching wave swept around my ankles. I got the shot! And, I thought, jumping back, I’m so glad I have these boots on. The hem of my jeans got wet, but my feet, my feet were safe and dry.

That’s what I thought until about an hour later, I realized that the numb, ice block feeling below my ankle, meant that water had penetrated my hiking boots. The cold started to creep through my foot.

That’s when I saw the first rays of light from the sunrise, that had so brilliantly lit up the clouds and sky, touch the pier, and then the surf. The pier jumped with a vibrant gold glow that pulled it out of the blue dawn. Then the white water turned pale yellow, then gold. And finally, a lone surfer just south of the pier touched the spreading sun.

Far away, especially considering the GFX100s had a 63mm lens on it, which is a 50mm full frame equivalent, I couldn’t expect to capture that surfer in any meaningful way to remember the moment or translate what I saw into an image.

Here’s the first shot. This is straight out of camera, and it’s dark because I feared that the shooting movement of the surfer would be blurry unless I cranked the shutter speed. 1/800 shutter speed.

The image doesn’t resemble the moment that I saw or remembered because it’s too dim, too dull. It doesn’t invite you in, and doesn’t share the secret of it’s composition easily. The viewer has to fight to make sense of it. So, in Capture One, I tried to find that balance of light, where the sun made the morning sky glow with newness and expectation.

Here’s my second attempt to recreate the morning surfing scene at the Oceanside Pier. You can tell that I’ve not only brightened the image, but I’ve also cropped in a bunch to remove the dark sand of the beach in the foreground and make the surfer more noticeable.

But the GFX100s had more to offer, and here’s where the title of the blog post comes in. I would not have believed that this camera with a 50mm lens could offer this: saving the morning memory I had experienced and created standing on the sandy California shore, freezing in my boots.

And one more.

And that’s the memory I have. Sunkissed pier. Water fanning off the top of the wave. Golden sun sparkling off the spray from the surfer’s wake. And the grey blue foreground because dawn had not quite reached the beach. And the gliding pelican, a cherry, literally, on top.

One other realization that I had from reading Adrian’s blog post here and watching Matt Day’s video here (where he discusses his decision to get rid of the GFX100s) is that the editing process with this file is quite easy and enjoyable. This image was shot with the Nostalgic Negative film simulation, which is by far, my favorite film simulation from Fuji, with Acros Yellow coming in second.

Thanks to the GFX100s. Yes, I can buy a longer lens. Yes, other compositions and cameras could capture the moment somehow. But for me, this is a moment of gratitude, of privilege, and of wonder, seeing what this new to me (refurbished from Fujifilm) camera can produce.

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