It was a long, bitterly cold winter here in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and the instinct to hibernate meant I spent my digital darkroom hours organizing and cleaning-up catalogs and archives of photos. There has been a day or two of steady gentle rain, and while the air is still crisp (and dropping below freezing at night) there is finally a softening of the landscape as green grass and evergreens emerge from the dull brown and grey of the past six months.
My thoughts have turned to the garden – I am working with a new yard, new climate – and I am looking forward to the warm, humid summer months, however brief, because they will bring a depth of colour and light that is special to that time of year. New plants will mean a return to my personal work to abstract florals and surreal botanical images, which have long been favourite subjects.
This image was actually captured with my phone a few years ago, back when I had a less-seasonal garden in Monterey, California. I have recently rediscovered this photograph and love the way the lush green leaves pressing against the steamy foreground window also blend into the shadowy branches beyond. The focus falls narrowly while repeating shapes echo throughout, and splashes of colour from green to yellow to a spectrum of blue invite the eye to wander around the frame. All of this behind the striking textural details of of water drops on the glass.
Every now and then I am able to capture with my phone a lovely little snapshot like this, and while it is true that the best camera is the one you have with you, these files are only suitable for small prints. Luckily, smaller prints are also an affordable, versatile interior decor option for photo art, and I have put together a collection of Small Prints images suitable for printing up to 8×12, available as giclée canvas wrap prints, mounted on modern bamboo, or as archival fine art prints ready for framing. Sometimes small images like this one can make a big impact, and these momentary intersections of light, colour and texture are beautiful to behold.
Pink sunset light mixes with dusky blue sky, reflected by softly rippling water where False Creek meets English Bay on a calm, quiet summer evening in Vancouver.
I captured plenty of general postcard-sunset-scenes, with mountains in the distance or a silhouetted tree to compliment the colours, but I have been particularly pleased with these abstracted photos of the beautiful light skipping across small glassy waves.
This series of blue, pink, and coral sunset water scenes has been added to my ‘Liquid Light’ collection, which highlights photos in which I’ve explored the movement, texture, and abstracted forms of light mixing with water in interesting ways.
Often these dappled, fluid scenes remind me of impressionist paintings, and thanks to a particularly vivid sunset on an evening walk at the aptly named Sunset Beach Park, very little editing was necessary to highlight the contrasting and complimentary colours.
As the light faded from the sky, the colours on the water slipped toward more muted, pastel shades. The form of the waves and sense of movement became more apparent as shadows deepened, and in editing I found that a wider, panoramic choice of cropping brought forward the subtle pattern and abstracted texture of the water’s surface.
While on a walk through the coastal forest of Mendocino County in California, I came upon a quietly running clear stream. Sunlight filtered through the trees above, illuminating the rippling water as it passed over smooth, multicoloured stones, creating ribbons of light across the shadowy stream-bed. I only shot two frames of this spot, close and abstracted in black and white to emphasize the tone and texture of the contrasting liquid and hard rocky surfaces. A fluid moment in time brought to life by the shimmering motion of light through water.
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
In the stillness between waves, dedicated surfers wait in the rise and fall of a winter swell. This image was captured shortly after a spectacular sunset had painted the pastel skies along the coast of Santa Cruz, California.
These quiet moments are as much a part of surf culture as catching the biggest or most exciting waves, and a peaceful ocean scene like this reminds me of how we are all drawn to contemplate the sea.
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.
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.
From a recent Saturday morning in Monterey – went whale watching on a particularly windy, bright day. Only two whales were spotted, and due to the pitching rise and fall of the relentless ocean swell, I only managed a few photos of whales. However, sunny moments like this stern sunbathing seagull perched on a rusting fishing boat, were easy to come by in the sheltered harbour.
Once several miles out to the edge of the bay, I did enjoy the shifting textural landscape of the windswept water, and managed a few lucky shots of some rare birds skimming the waves. Here’s the view of the California coastline, as we motored out in search of the whales…
As with many things, the rest of the photos from this adventure will have to wait, as I dedicate more time to preparing for some upcoming work. I think this trip out to sea was much-needed, as I came back to land feeling refreshed and energized by so much fresh air and bracing cold salt spray.
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.
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.
Living in Monterey is pretty much like living inside a postcard. Every sunset has the potential to make the evening magical, as the lights of the squid-fishing boats come to life along a stormy horizon, and a few hardy souls brave the cold wind and waves to surf that last swell of the day.
Glittering raindrops fall across a windshield during an evening storm, illuminated by a street light.
I know, I seem obsessed with the weather lately. Really, it is the irresistible interplay of water and light during this rainy season that captivates me completely. The sheen of water across asphalt in the morning hours, the way puddles hold an after-storm sunset; it is a permanently transient subject, that just a breath of wind and a passing cloud can change entirely. How can it not be satisfying to photograph?