Category Archives: Beach

Melting Glacier Chunk at Black Sand Beach, Vatnajökull, Iceland, 2017

Melting Glacier Chunk, Iceland

(this image can be seen in higher resolution and purchased as a print on its page)

I’ve recently been in Iceland, for two weeks. I’m still evaluating exposures I made. I have a lot of work to do on this as on so many other things, including hanging a show of photos soon. It’ll be a while.

With three hurricanes simultaneously in the waters off the east coast of the US, Irma breaking records and destroying Carribean Islands, about to destroy some parts of Florida most likely, with Houston still struggling to rescue people from hurricane Harvey, it seems like a good time for everyone to point out why this is happening. The oceans are warmer than what used to be considered normal. This fuels bad storms, much worse storms. The global climate is changing because of human carbon emissions. The glaciers are melting, in Iceland and everywhere.

So this glacier on the east coast of Iceland, Vatnajökull, of course is receding, melting, calving off chunks. I guess it’s usually normal in Iceland for there to be chunks of glacier on the beach nearby in summer, but on this day, I took my shoes off and the black sand of that beach was quite warm underfoot. This chunk of glacier was melting fast into the water at the edge of the beach.

It’s always funny as a photographer, or a human in general, to revisit an experience. I had been in Iceland on a honeymoon ten years ago, with no expectations. That was completely mind blowing.
(My Iceland page is so far mostly those older images, but I will be adding new ones no doubt.)
This time I was loaded with better gear and more skill as a photographer on the positive side, but on the negative side I was burdened by mind full of concepts of ICELAND to try to push past and be fresh. We’ll see if I managed to see freshly for more than a few bursts here and there.

This was made with the Contax G 90mm lens, and old and inexpensive film-era lens, adapted to my modern camera, which is one of the sharpest and most aggressively contrasty lenses I’ve ever owned, if not the most.

Of course everything was different, even though it was the same time of year. It was relatively warm in the days, and I guess we were lucky to have little rain. That also meant fewer weather-clouds. On the one hand we could walk and photograph mostly without being wet and cold. On the other the weather was a little bit less interesting. Of course the warming climate is, um, “interesting.”

I called up a friend who is a college professor in Chinese culture, literature, and I asked him if it was true that there was a Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” He told me he thought it was a myth that we think that is a Chinese curse.

Well, cursed or blessed, we are certainly living in interesting times, weather-wise and other-wise. I miss being a bit bored sometimes.

Moving Slowly with Character Lenses

Dune Fence Sunset with bicycle

This summer I’ve been testing and using some vintage manual focus and manual aperture lenses. They make some good lenses now, for sure, but they also used to make good ones in the past. Also, one modern lens I have now is a modern lens, with modern coatings and all, but it’s from Voigtlander’s “Vintage Series.” It’s extremely sharp and brilliant over most of the frame at least, but there’s just something special about it.

I had that Voigtlander lens on my camera as I was walking slowly along the beach at sunset in about the third or fourth day of having pneumonia, and I sure was moving slowly. I had walked longer and been out longer than maybe I should have. So walking slowly, I saw this, and I had just the right lens on my camera for the situation.

Roadside Chicory, Car, Vermont

I’ve been quite busy using and testing some of these vintage and character lenses in recent weeks, now fully recovered from that pneumonia. Working hard at photography.

So on this day I had to drive to take a show of photographs down in Lyme, New Hampshire, where they were hanging in Stella’s Restaurant as part of an annex show for Long River Studio Gallery. I had my cameras with my, and Lyme was a place I used to photograph a lot, so I left early, driving slowly, with some extra time. It turned out I didn’t make it to Lyme to photograph before my schedule time for the show de-hanging. I stopped along the road in Vermont in my own town. I passed this patch of blue chicory flowers along the roadside and I stopped there to work with it. I tried a few lenses, starting out with a modern Zeiss, but then I put on an old 80s lens, which was the lens that the late Jane Bown favored for her portraits. It’s pretty good, but a little soft wide open, and it has great bokeh. Often, to get these old lenses I’ll go through a series of apertures, starting with wide open. This allows me to get to know the lens. For this image, I was right by the road, and I had just reset the aperture to wide-open, hence the shallow depth of field and crazy bokeh balls. Standing there with the lens set like that, I heard a car approaching, thought, “what the heck,” and raised the camera, quickly (manually) focusing on the foreground flower. As the car approached I tripped the shutter. It worked.

It’s funny, both of these lenses would certainly be rejected by anyone purely looking at lens tests, looking for optical perfection by modern standards. And I myself would have been that one rejecting them about a year or less ago. But something about this spring and summer is loosening up, a bit of wildness is creeping in, and here we are.

These photos can be viewed at higher resolution and purchased as prints:

Beach Fence at Sunset with Bike

Roadside Chicory with Car, Vermont

Dune Fence and Shadows, Beach Grooming

Dune Fence and Beach Grooming, Jersey Shore

I was staying near the beach, so I had the chance to go out while the shadows were long and the light was soft. I’ve been meaning to publish this one for a while, and I finally got the spur to work on it.

Photographers out there may have heard that Google is giving away their Nik collection of software for free. I’ve been using Nik Silver Effex for some time. If you’re careful not to get too carried away with its power, it offers some nice additions to a straight conversion to black and white, some ways to get the tones just right. Silver Effex has been crashing on me a lot lately anyway. I was working on making an output file for a print that sold the other week, and it must have crashed 30 times or more, and it was a large file to reopen each time. Ugh.

So I took this news as an opportunity to move on. A new one I’m trying, called Tonality CK, does not crash. So I’ve been taking it out for some trips around the tone poems. This is one.

This photo is for sale on Canson Rag Photographiqe paper

Revisiting Post Pond – Edge Ice and Cloud Reflections

Post Pond, Lyme New Hampshire

I made a lot of good photos of Post Pond, many more than I’ve got posted on my site (here is the Post Pond collection).

I often wish I had a time machine and could go back. I have better cameras and much better lenses, and my eye is better. Overall, I’m a better photographer than I was even a few years ago. I did manage to wake up early one late summer morning to catch the rising mist, and I did make some good exposures.

This week I went back to Lyme to show some prints at the Long River Gallery. They liked my photos, and I’m now a member of the collective.

Most of the rest of the photos I brought to show to the gallery (because they are in Lyme, and of Post Pond) are hanging in their framed version in the currently hanging show at Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital. So currently there is a nice big print of this one on Canson Rag Photographique, a very slightly textured paper:
Post Pond Pickerel Weed in Mist

This week’s Photo of the Week is available in a larger view and for sale here.

Iceland Panorama – Volcanic Rocks and Distant Mountain Seascape

I’ve been wrestling with some newer images — hard to decide about those. But then sometimes some older ones snap into perspective: Oh yes. I put this panorama together from the iceland 2007 trip the other day, and it’s one of those, “Why didn’t I do that sooner?”

I also have a lot of “Why haven’t I done that yet?” images. Well, it’s clear why. Not quite enough time for everything…

Moving on after the exhibition spanning the holidays — lots of work to do on the site and the images.

This photo is available for sale and can be seen at a larger size here.

Two Lifeguards in a Boat, Ocean Grove NJ 2013

two lifeguards in a boat at dawn nj

There was some timeless time this summer; beach time with loved ones; Cape Cod and then NJ.

As usual, there is a big backlog of material I want to post, but I thought I would post something pretty fresh.

That week in August in Ocean Grove NJ was a mix of so much that is New Jersey — there is a rich and vibrant ecosystem, and then there is the bustle and bluster, the Chris Christy, the opposite of a sane and harmonious landscape.

There is always timelessness, always space. Just as the atoms that build us are almost entirely empty space, just so, spaciousness of mind permeates even the densest sense that we are caught-in-time. This is good for me to remember as it is about to get cold in Vermont, and I am behind in my chores and also some photographic work.

In my sense of life being too dense, I have to remember that it’s not really. I make it dense with my thinking, but the thoughts themselves have no substance, no density, no reality.

This print is for sale here.

young boy, great lake 1986

I think it’s probably best to let this image just be there without analyzing it or giving it context.

I’ll give a little ancient and recent meta-info though.

I had been photographing only with a 4 x 5 view camera for years up to about this time. Then I bought a used and inexpensive twin lens reflex camera. I loved the fact that I could suddenly make images like the one above but still have quality that wasn’t a total compromise. Not as good as the 4 x 5, but a new world of possibilities. I also loved that the camera looked so funky and non-threatening, like something you’d find in your grandfather’s attic. Funky, stealthy, and retro. (Though something half the size of a toaster can only be called stealthy when compared to a view camera, and only by virtue of its non-threatening appearance).

The up to the minute context for this image is that I haven’t yet re-found the negative. I don’t know if it’s still buried after my most recent move, two years ago, or if it got mis-filed and buried in an earlier move, or independent of a move. “I’ll just tuck these really important negatives inside the dictionary, under “R” for Really Important. I’ll never forget that!”

So here, I scanned a silver print from the darkroom days. I’ve got a handful of silver silver prints of this image. I like it a lot. Since it wasn’t easy to print, I printed a handful while I was at it. I’m so glad at least I’ve got the prints, and hopefully soon I’ll have a nice high res scan of the negative too.

This print is for sale here.

Black Sand Beach near Eyjafjallajokull, Iceland

This is a black sand, volcanic beach near the currently active volcano in Iceland — though this year, 2007, the volcano was nothing like active, sleeping under the glacier. We spent the night before this image in a bed and breakfast to the north of the Eyjafjallajokull glacier. While we did spend some time with the glacier, most of the day was on a few beautiful black beaches with rough seas, and traveling south a bit, some stunning cliffs.

This print is for sale here.