Hokusai

SSA Photography (242 of 400)

I took hundreds of photographs, waiting for the waves to crash on the rocks at just the right angle, with just the right force.  This photograph evoked feelings of “The Great Wave” the famous woodblock print by by the Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hokusai in his series Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji.  It also made me think of the creation myth of Aphrodite, which unlike Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, was, by all accounts, a violent affair.  Although Aphrodite can be broken down into “aphros” (foam) and “ditos” (risen), there is no direct etymological derivation.  This did not stop the Greeks (Hesiod, specifically) from crafting a story of Aphrodite rising from the foam after a great battle between Cronus and Uranus, which would foreshadow the same father-son battle between Zeus and Cronus.  In the whitewash, I can almost see Aphrodite throwing her hair back, casting off the spray as she nears the coastline.  But then, I suppose that’s what you get when your two favorite subjects in school were Latin and Art History…

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As They Saw It

SSA Photography (249 of 400)

I have published many posts taken at Point Lobos, but none yet of the point itself.  Point Lobos is located a few miles south down the coast from Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, and it is one of our favorite destinations when we visit Carmel.  When I took this picture, I wanted to capture the ruggedness of the point as well as the grove of Monterey Cypresses, which as I mentioned in a previous post, is one of two groves left in the world where the cypresses grow naturally.  When I went to “develop” or post-process the photograph, and I decided to go monochromatic, I was struck by the similarities to postcards I had seen in town from the 1930s and 1940s.  The coastline remained the same, albeit a bit more worn by the waves.  They cypresses were just as withered and topped by the constant winds.  The great Californian poet Robinson Jeffers wrote extensively about the coastline in his verses, and as I gazed at the photograph, I thought to myself, this is as he would have seen it – hence the genesis of the title of the post.

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Cypress Bluff

SSA Photography (204 of 400)

This photograph of a solitary Monterey Cypress (Hesperocyparis Macrocarpa) was taken at Point Lobos in Carmel, California. The species is native to the central coast of California, but now is confined to two small relict populations – Cypress Point in Pebble Beach and Point Lobos.  The most famous of the trees is the Lone Cypress, which is found along Seventeen Mile Drive in Pebble Beach.  Though the trees can grow to over forty feet, they are generally stunted by the strong winds that blow from the Pacific, which gives them their iconic flat-topped appearance.  Although it has long been held that some of the cypresses are two millennia old, this is a romantic conception of seaside literature, and the oldest of the cypresses are likely closer to 300 years old than 2,000.  Although only two native groves remain, the trees have been widely planted outside its native range, particularly along the coasts of California and Oregon.  Indeed, some intrepid seeds have even made it to Great Britain (including the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands), France, Ireland, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Sicily.

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Pod

SSA Photography (212 of 400)

I took the photograph of this pod of pelicans off of Point Lobos, in Carmel, California.  This is only the front of a much longer line of pelicans that was flying down the coast, and I thought the panorama captured them nicely against the bay and the creeping marine layer.  I love how they are all in different stages of flight, some coasting and some flapping frenetically.

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Bixby Canyon Bridge

SSA Photography (174 of 400)

I descended a dusty gravel ridge
Beneath the Bixby Canyon Bridge
Until I eventually arrived
At the place where your soul had died
Barefoot in the shallow creek,
I grabbed some stones from underneath
And waited for you to speak to me
And the silence; it became so very clear
That you had long ago disappeared
I cursed myself for being surprised
That this didn’t play like it did in my mind
-Death Cab for Cutie
This photograph of the Bixby Canyon Bridge in Big Sur, California, just after dawn shows the marine layer lifting from the bay, slowly creeping up the mountains, only to burn off completely by the early afternoon.  The bridge spanning Bixby Creek is one of many on Route 1 down the coast of California south of Carmel, but it is probably the most famous.  The bridge has a rich history, opening in 1932 to connect the residents of Big Sur with Carmel and San Francisco further to the north.  When it was built, it was the longest concrete arch span the west coast.  It remains one of the tallest single-span concrete bridges in the world.  It is narrower (by eight feet) than the required width of modern bridges, but due to its historic relevance, expansion is unlikely.
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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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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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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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Down East

SSA Photography (11 of 400)

This photograph of a squat lighthouse was taken in southeastern Maine, where my dad was born and raised.  Hundreds of these lighthouses dot the rocky coast, and each one of them is unique and picturesque in its own right.

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