Thursday, September 11, 2014

Published 8:14 AM by with 2 comments


Who doesn't love the beach? It represents so many varied things to an equal number of people. It brings joy to children and adults alike. I love the beach but not in the sense of it being a resort. I'm drawn to areas where people are a rare sighting. I love being alone by the ocean and I've had a lot of opportunities recently to do just that. Once Labor Day is over here in the States, it basically signals the end of weekend jaunts by the masses to these coastal jewels.

When I'm walking alone on the sandy shores, I think about the vastness of nature and my own insignificance. It's actually comforting to know that I am less than a speck on the face of a giant clock that represents Earth's history. I can see the way both water and sand have shaped the things around me. Rocks smoothed down to glassy forms that will continue until they themselves become grains of sand. Huge tree trunks once floating on the ocean and now dried out and resembling skeletons on the beach. Remnants of sea life; empty crabshells, the glistening snake-like forms of seaweed, the twinkling light reflecting off both tiny and huge jellyfish.

Cape Blanco Beach on the most Westerly point of the United States has such strong winds that the beach literally changes in front of your eyes. The footprints I made while walking on the soft sand disappeared as quickly as they were formed. The strong gusts of wind send millions of grains of sand slithering across the surface like so many snakes.

It was both exhilarating and terrifying to be leaning into the gusts trying to find photographs amongst the debris of the beach. Exhilarating because there is no end to what you can discover every few feet but terrifying because the swirling sand might get into my camera and lens. There were a few times where I just whipped out my iPhone and used it instead. I kept my big camera under my shirt until I was absolutely sure of the shot I wanted. Miraculously, my camera and lens were unharmed but I'll be more cautious in the future about risking damage to my equipment (no you won't, Steven).

I love the idea of a lone figure against a dramatic landscape. Linda and I were walking along Battle Rock Beach in Port Orford, Oregon and it provided the perfect backdrop for her silhouette. As I have discussed before, having something familiar in a photograph gives the viewer a sense of the scale of its context. The light was at a perfect angle to separate all the elements into layers of depth.

This was a challenging shot because there was so much contrast. The small amount of detail behind Linda was important to convey the sea and I had to work hard in post production to bring out the detail in the sand and the rock. It almost feels like the rock is a living thing, like the textures suggest it is a dinosaur.

Reflections can be a cliche and maybe this photograph is one but I liked the way it is not a perfect mirror-like reflection. The ripples caused by the wind give it some texture and separate it from the actual rocks.

I had about 2 seconds to get this shot as we were leaving the beach. The setting sun was directly behind this couple and there was a moment where I could feel they were experiencing something special together. My exposure was not correct but I pointed the camera and spun the shutter speed wheel until I saw the correct settings and took the shot. I would never be able to get a precise exposure using any kind of auto setting on the camera so it was good to know what I was doing just then. This is definitely one of those "decisive moments".

In my last blog, I mentioned that I didn't have the light I wanted while I was visiting the sand dunes of Florence but I had better luck at Cape Blanco. I love the way the low angle of the sun accentuated the ripples. Nature is constantly fascinating to me.

Another cliche shot but sometimes you just have to shoot stuff for yourself. If I was to avoid every cliche, I probably wouldn't have any photos to show. Sometimes these kinds of shots can lead to more interesting creative opportunities. Again, the low angle of the sun made this a fun photo.

There was lots of dried out wood on Cape Blanco Beach and many resembled skeletons. This one reminded me of a skull from some prehistoric animal, complete with eye sockets. The sand drifts around it made it beautiful to me.

More evidence of the strong winds on the Oregon Coast. I like the meandering leading lines in the shot.

This is another dried wood form that reminded me of perhaps a prehistoric fish. The arched shape and sand drifts leading off to the horizon gave it a feeling of loneliness. I almost felt sorry for this abandoned fish-like creature.

This is a closer shot of the same fish creature that is really dead wood, of course, but seeing these things on the beach makes my imagination run wild.

At some point soon, we will be leaving the coast for desert terrains in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas so I wanted to get as much shooting done at the beach as I could. Things shift so much in this wild landscape that it will be a whole new experience the next time I visit.


Fred Wishnie said...

Funny, in the photo of the ripples on the sand, they actually shimmered as I scrolled through it. Almost like a GIF.

Glenn Lacey said...

Another nice collection, I especially like the truck silhouette. Even thought it was taken in a fleeting moment it looks like it was painstakingly set up to produce the perfect pose.