Roil

SSA Photography (262 of 400)

This photograph was taken on a blustery morning in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.  The winds were coming through the bay at a fierce clip, and the waves were the largest I had ever seen.  We went on a hike to Point Lobos, and I captured this scene after one of the larger waves had crashed across the rocks – completely covering them in a mix of foam and roil.  One of the apocryphal origins to the name Aphrodite is “risen from the foam,” but I cannot imagine that this was the type of scene the ancients envisioned of her birth.  I think Botticelli got it right.  The violence of the waves made me marvel at the strength of the stone, which has invariably been battered for eons.  Love is like that in many ways, often beaten but never broken…so perhaps the ancients were onto something…

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Tempest

SSA Photography (387 of 400)

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”
-Shakespeare, The Tempest
This photograph was taken on the moors outside of Haworth, England earlier this year.  It was cloudless until dusk, when shadows crept over the heather, and tempestuous clouds filled the sky.  The rock in the foreground is a landmark that can be seen for miles, and indeed it can be seen from the house which Anna’s grandfather built stone by stone from an old ostler house.  It is but a pinpoint on the horizon from the house, and we trekked miles up and down (and up again) through the heather and sheep until we reached it.  The views, as can be seen here, and in the gallery “The Moors” were breathtaking, and though I cursed Anna’s mother and uncle for taking us on such a hard-fought scramble up the moors, it was indeed worth it in the end.  And in the end, as the Bard said, “what’s past is prologue.”
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Through the Ferns

SSA Photography (1 of 400)

In 2006, I took the trip of a lifetime.  After decades studying literature and Latin, I stood in Dove Cottage, Wordsworth’s home, and amongst the columns in the forum of Pompeii.  We were young then, Anna and I, but to this day we love traveling with our families whether in North Carolina, or Alaska, or England where we were engaged and where this photograph was taken.  I saw many marvelous sights on that trip–Marseilles, Mallorca, and all of the little English hamlets we visited like Grasmere.  This photograph of a well-trod path through the bracken ferns was taken in the Lake District in Northwest England.  Though you cannot tell from the perspective of the photograph, the bracken are as tall as I was, and the white and black sheep cloistered themselves between the fronds.  I felt a bit like Alice, dwarfed by the thick blanket of beautiful green ferns.   The Lake District truly is a wonderland, and I cannot wait to return.

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Skagway Mist

SSA Photography (18 of 400)

This small panorama was taken from the bow of a ship in the Inside Passage in Alaska, near Skagway.  To call the nature in Alaska untamed would be an understatement.  The glaciers are so plentiful that some have no names, and the fjords stretch for days.  All of the stones have stories, variegated and striated like this one from eons of ebbing and flowing tides.  The morning mist was a beautiful phenomenon, which I attempted to capture in this photograph.  It blanketed everything in a soft, dense fog, which sometimes did not burn off until well into the afternoon, when the blue skies brought out the deep cerulean of the glaciers.  Although beautiful in full color, I felt that the black and white of this photograph worked ever so well with the natural contrasts of the subject.

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Zinger

SSA Photography (140 of 400)

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am less comfortable taking portraits of anyone except my son, who is a willing subject.  This portrait, however, is one of my all time favorites.  Zinger was born just as the Red Sox clinched the 2004 World Series.  I was home from college, and I watched him being born to our sweet girl Hannah.  She nipped his umbilical cord too close to him, and he was left bleeding profusely.  My sister took him in her arms and staunched the blood for hours until he healed.  He was hers from that moment forward.  He loved the water, and he loved North Carolina – which is where I found him in this photograph.  We had to say goodbye to Zinger a few months ago, but he will always occupy a warm place in our hearts.

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Remnant

SSA Photography (376 of 400)

I studied art history in high school and college, learning from incredible teachers and professors.  I went to museums and saw visiting collections, but I never stood in the middle of St. Peter’s square or under the arches of a gothic cathedral until 2006 when I stood in La Seu, visited Pompeii, and walked into the middle of the Piazza San Pietro, marveling at the history that surrounded me.  Yet something about Bolton Abbey, the skeleton of which I captured in this photograph, struck me more than even walking through the ancient streets of Pompeii.  Perhaps because I was older, I had a new appreciation for the feats of architecture.  Perhaps, too, it was because I was alone with my camera and my thoughts, not being bustled about by tour guides or other eager tourists.  Whatever the difference, Bolton Abbey was more majestic to me than even St. Peter’s.  It is a memory, a remnant of time gone by, of the monarchy, of the Reformation, and of the shifting sands of faith.  While other abbeys were deconstructed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and all that remains of them is rubble, Bolton Abbey remains – like a fossil, its bones bared and resolute.  When I stood in the nave, I placed my hand on a monolithic column, lingering for a moment and hoping to physically connect to the priory.  With the weathered stone pressed against my hand, I wondered how many generations had set their hands upon the stonework, and at that moment I felt truly connected to a continuum of time – those who had come before and those who would come after to admire the remnant as I had.

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Looking Glass Falls

SSA Photography (147 of 400)

This photograph of Looking Glass Falls was taken in the Pisgah National Forest outside of Asheville, North Carolina.  The name “Looking Glass” comes from Looking Glass Rock, where water freezes on its sides in the winter and then glistens in the sunlight like a mirror or looking glass.  There had not been much rain during the summer I took this photograph, so the waterfall was tame in comparison to the rushing falls I remember from my youth.  Even today, miles removed, I can still hear the crashing water and recall the look of awe on Kemper’s face as we climbed down the steps to view the falls from water level.  You can see more of my fascination with falls in the gallery, ever so creatively named “Falls.”

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Moon Jelly

SSA Photography (232 of 400)

This photograph of a Aurelia Labiata or Moon Jellyfish was taken at the Monterey Aquarium.  Usually swimming in schools, this jellyfish had separated itself from the rest of its spineless (invertebrate) kin and was floating along just far enough away that I could get a shot of it by itself.  The beautiful wisps of stinger-rich tentacles fluttered in the current of the large tank, and I was mesmerized by them like the little children whose noses were plastered against the thick glass.  Kemper, who was three at the time, was enraptured by the sheer number of jellyfish that effortlessly floated by, and we had to explain that though beautiful, they were dangerous.  I could tell that he did not fully grasp Jeffers’ line, “Beauty is not always lovely.”  But when understanding washed over him, I was momentarily saddened that this lesson had to be learned at such a young age.  Soon, however, he was lost again in the schools of jellyfish not, perhaps, to give another thought to the lesson for a long time to come.

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Awash

SSA Photography (183 of 400)

I have lived near the ocean my whole life, and yet it took my first trip to the California coast to truly admire the beauty of the sea.  The rocks and the waves are gorgeous in and of themselves, but together they are magical.  This photograph captures the instant when the two come together to produce an ephemeral wisp of beauty.  But for my camera capturing the fleeting moment, this little crash would have been forgotten, lost beneath the weight of the others that have come after it.  My fascination with the waves and the rocks can be seen in my collection California Waves.  I hope you enjoy this instant as much as I have.  The Romantics–Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, and Shelley–all tried to capture that one infinite moment in words.  I will never have the words to capture it like they did; but then, they didn’t have a lens…

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Stillwater Cove

SSA Photography (215 of 400)

This photograph, which is part of my Solitary collection, was taken a little after sunrise on the banks of Stillwater Cove in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, just below Pebble Beach.  The photograph is hazy, as the Soberanes fire was burning uncontrolled in the highlands during our visit, casting everything in a sepia glow.  This little sailboat was bobbing amongst the bull kelp and sea otters that frequent the cove.  I was captivated by the lone person on the bow of the boat, who sat there unaffected by the world that was only a hundred yards or so from him.  I, too, was by myself this morning, lost in the beauty of the cove, though the dogs on their morning walks brought me back to reality as they rollicked in the waves.

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