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“The cool thing about Nova Scotia is that it’s essentially a big island,” says photographer Scotty Sherin. “If you’re willing to explore you can usually find quality waves during any swell. Twenty minutes before this photo was taken, on the drive down to the beach, a huge moose crossed the highway. The expression on Kevin Shulz’s face—he was visiting from San Clemente—was priceless. I think it might have been the biggest animal he had ever seen in person. Everybody talks about how cold it is here, and that’s true, it’s cold. It’s just that the waves can be too good to resist, so you learn to deal with it.” Photo: Scotty Sherin

“This photo of John John Florence was shot down on the southeast side of Oahu during Hurricane Guillermo, just one of the tropical systems that boiled up toward Hawaii this summer,” says photographer Tony Heff. “It’s rare to see this wave at this size with light winds, but on this day it was lining up nicely. There were some barrels earlier in the morning, but even though the winds were light, the onshore winds eventually got the best of it. John John, Bruce Irons, Koa Smith, and Ivan Florence almost flew to Micronesia for an unseasonal northwest swell but at the last minute they ended up canceling. Fortunately, they decided to surf locally, from north to south, and we linked up for several sessions. This one was the most memorable by far.” Photo: Tony Heff

“I lost my leg to a tiger shark when I was 18,” says photographer Mike Coots of this board-mount selfie. “I started surfing again about seven years ago with a prosthetic. Now, when I know I’m going to be pig-dogging, I’ll take an Allen wrench and angle the foot a little more, toe out, so I’m not so much on my tippy toes. That way I can get down in position, close to the board.” Photo: Mike Coots

“The south Santa Barbara shore is mostly bad beachbreak peppered with a few nice right-hand points, all well-known and brutally crowded,” says writer/photographer Michael Kew. “The zone is similar to Santa Cruz in terms of microclimate and scenery, but with coyote brush instead of pine trees, and no Bay Area sprawl just over the hill. You can see the influence of Spanish settlers everywhere and especially so downtown, where brick, stucco, and adobe exist with palm trees and tourist traps. North of Goleta, civilization thins fast, and a solo session in good surf is a genuine possibility—you just have to know where to look.” Photo: Michael Kew

The Observer Effect, which describes how the act of observation can change the outcome of a phenomenon being observed, comes into play in everything from quantum mechanics, to the air you leak while checking the pressure in your tires, to the ripples and water droplets a water photographer leaves in a wave face. “While shooting I was trying to be perfectly still so I wouldn’t disrupt the water at all,” says Robbie Crawford of this image of the Wedge. “I wanted it to feel truly empty.” Photo: Robbie Crawford

The western tip of southern Africa sits exposed to the cold Atlantic, primed to cop the full brunt of any storm whipped from the Roaring 40s. As with any storm-riddled stretch of coastline, its big-wave setups are almost as ubiquitous as the shipwrecks those same waves are known to produce. “This spot has been surfed quietly by a handful of locals and traveling brothers and sisters who have fallen in love with its ‘perfection,’” says photographer Alan Van Gysen. “Whereas Dungeons, in Cape Town, is rugged and wild, with unpredictable, shifting sections, this spot is defined and lined up, allowing for the ideal big-wave takeoff and a down-the-line charge into a meaty, barreling, end section.” Photo: Alan Van Gysen

“Never seen a wave do this before,” says South African photographer Sacha Specker. “Not sure I will ever see it again. Being there to photograph it felt like winning the lottery.” Photo: Sacha Specker

This appetizing setup in the South Tasmanian hinterlands only comes to life two or three times a year, which means Rory Sanders and Ben Richardson must have already consumed a gut-full. Photo: Stu Gibson

“That day was truly a day to remember,” says photographer Nick Liotta. “Pouring rain, filthy runoff, every pro in Ventura in the water, and too many photographers on the beach. I decided to swim, which was difficult, but rewarding. I may have missed a few crazy ones, but the waves I did shoot made it worth while. Trevor Gordon stroked into this wave five minutes after getting blown out of another one. It was one of the best tubes of the morning.” Photo: Nick Liotta

Mode of transport can heavily influence the surf selection process. It can also color the texture and feel of the entire session, beginning far before, and lasting long after, the experience in the water. “Scouring nooks and crannies for waves on a bike is by far the coolest way to search for surf in my opinion,” says photographer Mark McInnis. “This is my buddy Brett somewhere in Northern California. I was headed north from Baja and stopped in to hang with him for a few days. He had just gotten this amazing dual sport and, as you can see, the light did that classic California gold for us.” Photo: Mark McInnis

The line a surfer draws can tell you a lot about their approach to wave riding. This study, from a slightly sunken vantage, shows a wake trail that speaks clearly to the foundational speed of top-to-bottom surfing. Photo: Brian Bielmann

“Josh Mulcoy and I had just scored in central California so we decided to follow the swell north,” says photographer Mark McInnis. “In typical Pacific Northwest fashion it wasn't as good as forecasted but we still managed to get a few waves. Mulcoy was really selective because some of the rights were pinching and on this one he came out clean.” Photo: Mark McInnis

The imagery of travel, the gritty elements especially (and surprising), can sometimes set the wanderlust hook deep. For photographer Greg Ewing it was Dakar, a port city of more than a million Senegalese, that did the trick. “The capital is built on a peninsula and has some really fun surf,” he says, “and it’s pretty consistent. If one spot is onshore or a little small, you go to the other side of the peninsula and it’s offshore. But the place itself, and traveling through it, was what initially sparked my fascination and love for surf travel in Africa.” Photo: Greg Ewing

Aritz Aranburu sharpens his blade on a clean Canary Islands lip-line. “The first foreign surfers who visited this island, Lanzarote, called it “Ghost Town” because there were a bunch of houses around but no one seemed to live in them,” says photographer Javi Muñoz. “Those volcanoes in the background are on La Graciosa, a tiny island where cars aren’t allowed. Both Lanzarote and La Graciosa are pure lava. It’s like landing on Mars with amazing waves.” Photo: Paco Two

“This was late fall in New Jersey on the first of five days of fun surf,” says photographer Seth Stafford. “Conditions were perfect yet inconsistent, which made those few moments of perfect light stressful. You want everything to come together so badly, but you need the right wave. I was frantically swimming to put myself in position. This one’s color palette made the effort with it.” Photo: Seth Stafford