Editor’s Note: The All-Time series showcases images that stop us in our tracks. Only on rare occasions do nature’s infinite variables align. It’s even more unusual that photos capture the essence of that moment. If you’re sitting on an image (or two) from surf or snow that you think fits the description above and you’d like to be featured, send us your photo with a few sentences about the day to firstname.lastname@example.org
Marcus Paladino is used to shooting surf in inclement weather. He’s a Tofino-based photographer, a place that gets around 130 inches of rain each year. The residents there are generally wrapped in rain gear, but all that rain is what makes the tiny town at the end of the road so incredible. The town sits in a rain forest, edged by an ocean that’s equal parts violent and beautiful.
It’s a place where surfing takes a little more work — a little more exploring, a little more discomfort, and little more risk — but that extra bit of effort makes the scores that much better. Scoring in that zone often requires a bit of foresight and a bit more patience. The phrase “hurry up and wait” applies frequently, but if you get there early and just simply wait… well, you’re going to reap the benefits, even if you have to sit in a torrential downpour.
“We arrived way before the swell showed up,” Paladino told me about the image you see above. “Thankfully, we brought a tarp because it was raining profusely for most of the day.”
Explaining Vancouver Island rain to someone who hasn’t experienced it is difficult. When it rains hard, it’s not so much rain drops as it is buckets. Sitting in the rain is never fun, even if expectations of what you’re sitting in the rain for are high. But Paladino and Andy Jones knew if they waited long enough, their patience would be rewarded. And they were right.
“We sat there in soaked rain gear on a wet log and watched the water moving for what felt like forever,” Paladino continued. “Finally, something resembling a wave started to form and Andy Jones was on it immediately.”
Throughout the day, the swell they’d hoped for filled in, but the rain never let up. “The swell continued to grow from playful a-frames to maxing out wind swell,” Paladino finished. “I don’t think I’ve been that soaked-to-the-bone damp in my entire life. At one point, I just put my camera inside of my water housing and just shot with that from land until we left.”
But the results from the day were worth it. A whole bunch of great memories, great waves, and one seriously stunning photo.