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Photographer's Note

I grew up in Southern California, near Los Angeles. Although I now live close to San Francisco, about 600 km to the north, my wife and I both have large extended families in the LA area, now mostly living in Orange County.

The Southern California beach scene was very much a part of my youth. Although I never surfed, I did spend a lot of time hanging out on the wide sandy beaches, playing beach volleyball and body surfing. I visit relatives in Orange County typically several times a year, and I find the beach is still a great attractor.

This is a typical morning scene (about 8 AM) for a late summer weekend in Huntington Beach. Mostly only surfers are out this early and although the water temperature is pleasant, most are wearing wet suits to allow them to spend long stretches in the water. In the water in the background of this photo, you can see numerous small black shapes; those are other surfers. The Huntington Beach pier is seen at a distance, with the restaurant Ruby's at the end.

Huntington Beach is famous mainly for two things. Historically, its first fame was based on petroleum. Here is a bit quoted from Wikipedia on this point:
"The Huntington Beach Oil Field is part of rich pools of oil found along the West Coast of the United States in the early 1920s stretching from Huntington Beach, California to Santa Barbara, California. The conflict of coastal oil drilling with beachfront recreation and tourism has been a central theme in Southern California politics. The discovery of oil was followed by a real estate boom in the surrounding communities."

The second great fame of Huntington Beach is as a mecca for surfing and surfing culture. Indeed, there has been an effort -- not yet successful -- to formally rename the community "Surf City." Here is a quote from the website "www.surfcityusa.com" that speaks to this aspect of their self image in terms that an advertising executive would admire:

"Discover the Orange County city that defines Southern California. A place where the quintessential mild and mellow California beach culture that made the state famous still perseveres; where pretentiousness takes a back seat to casual and cool; where the true trendsetters of West Coast fashion, food and lifestyle reside."

Like all good advertising, these statements encompass some kernels of truth, substantially exaggerated.

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