Last weekend I took my wife and my camera to a beach along highway way 1, just north of Santa Cruz and south of Half Moon Bay. The beach we stopped at was a spot where the wind & waves had eroded the rocks all around to the extent that instead of sand, there were millions of tiny pebbles. The rock formations at this beach are incredibly fascinating because if you look close enough, particularly through the lens of a camera, there lay millions of possible compositions.
We enjoyed hours away, studying the stones with our cameras looking for interesting ways to design photographs with unique cropping, trying to find interesting patterns or harmony within the lens and the surrounding nature. To see the beach from the parking lot, it would seem to many passers-by, to be any ordinary beach. But to us, it was a photographers playground.
I primarily shot with a hasselblad 503 cm and a fixed focal length lens on Berger film from Germany. I had only two rolls of film, or about 20 shots total, my wife had 4 gigs. She managed to shoot over 100 images while we were at the beach, but I spent most of my time on my knees in only three or four spots, studying the rocks around me. I wanted to find some order in all the dis-order around me. I was looking for some pattern or interesting composition, first I studied lines in the rocks, then the juxtaposition of the different rocks with the pebbles around. I felt as though if I looked hard enough, eventually I would find a simple and pleasing composition that was not too busy or too distracting.
I never found the ideal composition within the two rolls of film and two to three hours we spent on that beach, I believe that there is a better photo still waiting to be made at this beach and for now it has evaded me. As I scoured about the rocks on the beach, it seemed to me that all the rocks were staring back at me, all the little holes in the rocks looked like little faces, some happy faces, others looked tormented. The composition of some holes in the rocks somewhat captures the anguish I felt trying to find a peaceful and harmonious image amongst all the busyness around me. All I wanted was to find an image that was simple and balanced, in amongst a myriad of dis-organized pebbles? Silly huh? It was like I was trying to see a whole forest from within all the trees. After a while I gave up on this pursuit and then focused my lens on a piece of drift wood.
Perhaps I will return to the beach again sometime and make another attempt at finding a composition within all the random pebbles that captures the design elements that I enjoy finding in abstract photos such as these.
Labels: black and white, photography, warren lee