Monday, March 15, 2010

Sibilant Songs of the Shoreline: Surf, Shells, Seagulls, Sand, and Sky

Early Bird - Image c Lynda Lehmann 2010

Winging It - Image c Lynda Lehmann 2010

Feeding Time - Image c 2010 Lynda Lehmann

Alone Among Strangers - Image c 2010 Lynda Lehmann

Anticipation - Image c 2010 Lynda Lehmann

Blue Sky, Blue Water - Image c 2010 Lynda Lehmann

Nested in the Sand - Image c 2010 Lynda Lehmann

Gull Walk - Image c 2010 Lynda Lehmann

Beach Baubles - Image c 2010 Lynda Lehmann

Inevitable Beauty - Image c 2010 Lynda Lehmann

What's sibilant at the seashore? The hissing of the foaming surf, the shrill screeching of gulls, the satisfying intervals of silence and solitude.

Okay, you've got me. The words I've used to DESCRIBE those natural phenomena are instances of sibilance, whereas the phenomena themselves, are not.

Nevertheless, every time I go to the beach with my camera, nature reveals her little secrets to me, sights and sounds and smells (there I go again) that fill me with joy. It seems that by looking through my camera lens, I've made a pact with beauty. Each time I see more than the time before. No exotic foreign scenes, just everyday sights of the shoreline. Each time, I feel so rich and enriched: my cup of beauty is full again!

I see the entire animal kingdom in the clannish squawking chatter of the gulls, moving mostly in unison against the waves, in vigilant outlook for their next meal. I see the cosmos in a brightly colored scattering of shells, the treasures of ages in a golden, iridescent conch half buried in the sand.

It's an addiction. Framing an image in your viewfinder or LCD screen can do two things. It can actually insulate you from the walking/hiking experience because you loose yourself in the intention of getting satisfying photographs to document the experience you're only HALF having, lol....

Or, by the concentration of your focus on aspects and segments of the surrounding environment, you actually sense and see MORE of it! Most of the time it's a wash (no pun intended) and what I lose in the directness of the experience, I'm compensating for by the poignant visual moments--those shining little moments of thrilling epiphany--in which I entirely lose myself. Nature spins its magic around me and I'm in FLOW for as long as I go with it.

At one point I had hundreds of gulls taking wing around me--and for a moment I was immersed in a universe of fluttering wings whose "whooshing" sound filled the beach and drowned out the crashing of waves and the hiss of sea-foam. (As you can imagine, I was immensely grateful that none of them dropped on me...)

I watched in awe (through my lens) as one sedate gull was knocked over backwards by a wave. He had to use his wings to straighten himself and scramble back into his sitting position. If a gull can look surprised and flustered, I think he did! But maybe I'm anthropomorphizing too much....

I've been carrying my tripod lately. It becomes quite heavy to lug over long distances on sand or muddy trails. But it's worth the benefit of better photo quality--and I'm finally training myself to carrying it religiously. I've been shooting at narrow apertures, as small as F 11 and even F 16 on sunny days, to facilitate depth of field. Although JPG noise continues to be a problem, even when I use a noise filter in the processing.

Here are a few of the many images I shot the other day. My favorite shots are "Anticipation," "Nested in the Sand" and "Blue Sky, Blue Water." My greatest joy is finding beauty and tranquility in everyday scenes, including local beaches and parks. Most of us are fortunate enough to have a park, or a stretch of forest, or a garden, somewhere nearby. Do you have a favorite sanctuary where you habitually go to find natural beauty and peace?

NOTE: I would like to thank all those of you who voted for my photo in the Newsday photo contest. I believe the winner had literally thousands of votes, and was a shot of a child hugging a marine mammal. I haven't been able to find it again to verify this, but it was an adorable and heartwarming photo, well deserving of the votes.

All images and text c Lynda Lehmann. If you would like to view more of my art or make a purchase, please visit Lynda Lehmann Painting and Photography or my gallery at Imagekind, where you can choose from several sizes and paper types or buy my prints plain or matted and framed.

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