Glass Beach, Mendocino

I was hoping the rumors were true; a quiet, wild, little stretch of beach on the Mendocino coast near the city of Fort Bragg, strewn with colorful pebbles of sea-glass. As it turns out, this spot is definitely not a secret, as signs will lead the curious traveler from Highway 1 to the sizeable parking lot. On the day I visited, a steady stream of people meandered along sandy paths through meadows of purple and white wildflowers, and down to the beach.

I was not prepared for just how much glass there was, and in some areas the beach seemed more sea-glass than sand. This spot was used as a dumping ground for many years, resulting in a concentration of glass that is now the remaining evidence of such ecologically inconsiderate human activity

Glass Beach detail, Mendocino, California
Contrasting texture of rock and polished seaglass, details of Glass Beach at Fort Bragg, Mendocino, California

Smooth, translucent pebbles of glass in every size and color made beautiful textural patterns everywhere I looked. The diffuse light from an overcast sky made for easy photography, and I am curious to see this spot on a day with more sun, as the colorful contrasts might be even more remarkable. This was a quick visit during a long drive up the California coast, and after snapping a few photos I was back on the road with a small handful of smooth sea-glass pieces in my pocket. As it is a very active stretch of coast, with crashing waves and stormy winter weather, I expect that Glass Beach may change and continue to reveal colorful treasure for decades to come.

These two square images have been added to my affordable Open Edition Square Prints, and the full set of Glass Beach images can be found in the apkphotography.com archives.

Oakura Beach, New Zealand

Tucked between quiet beach towns on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island, Oakura Beach is a windswept, black sand slice of paradise.

The beach access is casual, a short walk through flowering flax, and down into low, soft dunes. My friend chose to cross the creek along a piece of driftwood, while I waded through up to my knees in the cold rushing water. Such an angle paid off, and got us a fun photo with which to remember this bit of our adventure.

As we wandered the windy shoreline, we found beautiful bits of contrast in shimmering sand, which from various angles offered a glittering black, iridescent purple, and silvery backdrop to shells and driftwood scattered along the high-tide line.

The rocky harbor of New Plymouth was visible through the mist to the North, and even with a bustling urban center so close, Oakura Beach felt like a wild stretch of coast we were glad we’d made the trip to explore.

Some of these images are available as prints, in my Open Edition print gallery.

To view the full set of Oakura Beach, New Zealand photographs, please visit the APK Photography archives.

Just beneath the surface | Tofino BC

Tofino, British Columbia is a place of many wonders where the sea and forest meet;  it is sometimes rugged, sometimes gentle, and the interaction of texture and light is always captivating. Walking along a broad, shallow beach one morning at low-tide, I encountered the beautiful sight of sandy shallow tide pools, where kelp gently swayed just beneath the surface of crystal clear northern Pacific ocean waters.

Observing the backlit, undulating golden kelp leaves as they shifted gracefully in the swell of a turning tide, I could see fish and small crabs darting beneath the leafy canopy along the sandy ocean floor. At the water’s surface, the contrast between the form of the kelp structures and the dark, silky waves tempted me to wade into the cold water up to my knees, just to catch the right angle of light across the scene.

The tide came in quickly, as it does on this dramatic stretch of coast, and I had to retreat back to the slightly higher ground of the wide sandy beach. The variety of kelp in these northern waters was on display, with a few delicate specimens strewn across the sand.

This was a lovely location, peaceful on an early sunny summer morning, which invited a full contemplation of the natural beauty in a landscape of contrasts. To see my full set of photographs from Tofino, British Columbia, please visit the Tofino, BC gallery at aplphotography.com

Harbor seal mothers and their playful pups

On the sheltered beaches of Monterey, Carmel, and Point Lobos, one can catch a lovely glimpse into the lives of harbour seals.  This time of year, the cute harbour seal pups are beginning to explore their watery homes, and their mothers keep a watchful eye as they swim through the swaying kelp forests and quiet coves.  Some of the pups are particularly plump and round, and as they get brave enough to swim away from their mothers, there are moments of playful freedom in the surf.  Once a pup realizes that they can no longer see their mother however, they will cry, short sad little calls that bring their mothers quickly to their side.  The pups only have 3 to 4 weeks before they will be weaned, and witnessing this precious time that they have with their mothers is quite a special sight.

See more harbour seal interactions and behaviour in the APK Photography Harbour Seal gallery.

water + light

Feels a bit like time is slipping through my fingers lately – having completely rebuilt my archives of 30,000+ images, I’ve admittedly needed a little break from the digital darkroom and the endless queue of shots still waiting to be processed. An escape to the edge of the world, where dunes and sand melt away into endless ocean waves might be in order…

This particular sort of mix of light and water could keep me occupied for an eternity – it seems to me to be a place where that which should be easily described achieves a rather intangible quality, and even a simple walk along a beach with the steady flow and motorized hum of four-wheeling traffic can become something more ethereal from the right angle. Our relationship to these places is frequently overshadowed by all of the ways we try to impose a usefulness upon the landscape, when really, just being present at that intersection of time and space is the more fulfilling experience.

New horizons

Around the time one calendar year changes to the next, it is easy to become absorbed in reflecting on the recent past. In this case, 2011 flew by with alarming speed, and it is hard to believe that 2012 has already arrived. Rather than dwell on what has been, however, I am very excited by what is next. Many changes afoot for this blog and my photography – from new digital darkroom tricks to some incredible print collections and fine art offerings.

Last light, Big Sur

These two images, both shot on the same beach in Big Sur, are from a recent exploration of longer-exposure photography. Living on the coast affords me easy access to some spectacular coastlines awash in sunset colours and misty waves, and I hope to bring you more of these peaceful, scenic images in the coming months.

Big Sur, sunset

it’s a small world…

Perhaps it’s a result of having grown up a pilot’s daughter, but I have always adored the look of the world in miniature.  That we also had an N-gauge model train layout in the garage probably confirmed for me the surreal pleasure of a giant’s perspective across landscapes of small structures and tiny figures.

I know it is regarded by many as a fad mostly used by advertisers, but tilt-shift photography always satisfies that familiar childish joy of mine, because it allows our minds if only for a moment, to view the world as though it were made up of toys.

Beach scene, tilt-shift

Photography being a rather expensive endeavour, my dreams of a tilt-shift lens to fully explore this unusual perspective will have to wait.  Luckily there is the digital darkroom, and an online world full of photography tips and tilt-shift tricks.  Learning this new (and easy) workflow prompted me to attack my archives with something different in mind, and photos I might have passed over the first time have been given new life through the use of a different perspective.  I’m already thinking of the next scenes I’d like to try the tilt-shift effect on…