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Posts Tagged ‘beach photography’

Tide Line Still Life: My Beach Treasures

Posted by Jody on November 26, 2013

Today’s Featured Guest Writer is Marjorie Callahan Beck of Tide Line Still Life.

Tide Line Still Life: My Beach Treasures

Moon Shell Bubbles

Moon Shell Bubbles

As an art history major in college, still life has fascinated me for many decades. Still life is defined by the Tate Museum as art that focuses on “anything that does not move or is dead”.  From paintings of food on the interior of Egyptian tombs to meticulously crafted mosaics from Rome, artwork that consists of carefully arranged inanimate objects has been a part of the history of art from ancient times.  The objects found in a still life can be natural or man made, and the artist deliberately arranges found objects, considering their size, color, perspective, and overall balance with one another. Flowers, fruit, vegetables, and just about any imagined object has found its way in to still lifes; whatever the artist decides to include is acceptable.  It is my love of the sea, and all things marine, that draws me to famous still lifes that include marine life.

Moon Shell Eye

Moon Shell Eye

I have a passion for the sea, and I have been walking beaches for my entire life. Several years ago I began noticing arrangements of objects found on the beach, and I was amazed at the artistic perfection of many of the compositions. It is important to note that the objects in my photos are never rearranged or positioned.  Unlike still lifes in museums, the photographs are not contrived; I photograph the objects exactly as I find them.  Yes, I have “lost” many perfect arrangements because I was too slow with the shutter and the tide was too quick!

I suppose that at this point I could become fairly philosophical about nature’s creations trumping man made compositions.  I could easily argue (unsupported by research), that the earliest still life artists were inspired by what they found arranged in nature.  Instead though, I will simply state that the ocean (and rivers and lakes) is an organic system responsive to the life it holds, and contributing to the world that surrounds it.  Regardless of its power and grandeur, though, it offers me snatches of sweet serendipity when I walk its tide lines.  And more often than not, I am able to find perfectly composed arrangements of pebbles, shells, feathers, and sand. These are not man made, but instead created by the ebb and flow of the sea, the wind, and the blowing sand.  These compositions are my beach treasures.



What I look for when I walk the tide line is a balance of color, form, and texture in the arrangements, in the same way that these three elements are present in still life paintings. As I walk, I look for compositions that offer surprising splashes of color, or sometimes truly magnificent monochromatic compositions. Compositions with pebbles often present lovely clusters, and this past summer common mussels were a source of endless inspiration. Recently, our local beach has been full of migratory birds, so there have been feathers aplenty! The objects, the weather, time of day, and my overall mood all contribute to what I notice as I walk the beach. I am fascinated by what the different seasons wash ashore on the same stretches of sand. Several of the storms this fall contributed to captivating arrangements when the sea retreated.

Mussel Splash

Mussel Splash

Feather Line

Feather Line

Most of my work is done walking my local beaches in New Jersey, USA. I do, though, take time to photograph tide lines whenever I travel anywhere near the sea. I have walked the freezing winter tide line in Northumberland, England, and I have sun-blistered the back of my neck midday in the sub-tropical summer. Each sea’s tide line presents its own assortment and arrangements of objects.  Lately, my favorite time to photograph has been in the early morning. The shadows are quite striking as the sun rises, and they often create a very different still life than is possible on a cloudy day.

Yellow and Blue

Yellow and Blue

Most of my photos are taken with a Nikon D3200 with an 18-55mm lens. I have been known to quick grab my iPhone for a photo if my camera is not with me, and I want to remember an interesting array of flotsam or jetsam. I am afraid that I have a bit of a compulsion to walk very long distances with my head facing down towards the sand.  I do not want to miss that one perfect arrangement! I have quite a bit to learn about the technical side of this craft, but am concentrating on identifying compelling arrangements at this time.  I do only a minimum of processing work on the pieces that I publish.  Because of convenience, most of the work is currently done on my iPad using Snapseed.  There is so much to learn about the technical side of this craft, and I will be digging in a bit more in this area over the winter.

About the Author (by Jody):  Marjorie Callahan Beck (Maggie) has inspired me to take my time and look a bit closer at the tide line on my upcoming visit to the seashore. Her fabulous Tide Line Still Life blog is an absolutely delightful beach photo journal showing the beauty and solitude in the very smallest details “created by the ebb and flow of the sea, the wind, and the blowing sand.”

Feather Shell

Feather Shell


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Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Featured Guest Writer, Sand and Shoreline | Tagged: , , , | 22 Comments »

Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon

Posted by Jody on October 29, 2013

Mississippi Gulf Coast Horizon

Along the Mississippi Gulf Coast

“A cloud does not know why it moves in just such a direction and at such a speed…

It feels an impulsion… this is the place to go now.  But the sky knows the reasons and the patterns behind all clouds,

and you will know, too, when you lift yourself high enough to see beyond horizons.”

  ~Richard Bach

This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Horizon.”


Posted in Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , , , , | 22 Comments »

A Word A Week Photo Challenge – Favourite

Posted by Jody on October 25, 2013

♫ “When the dog bites,

When the bee stings,

When I’m feeling sad,

I simply remember my favorite things,

And then I don’t feel so bad.” ♪

Family (The Oregon Coast)

Family Time (The Oregon Coast)

Collecting Seashells (Sanibel Island, Florida)

Colorful Seashells (Sanibel Island, Florida)

Lighthouses (Newport, Oregon)

Lighthouses (Newport, Oregon)

Cute Coastal Critters (Santa Cruz, California)

Cute Coastal Critters (Santa Cruz, California)

Sunrise on the Beach (Waikiki, Hawaii)

Sunrise on the Beach (Waikiki, Hawaii)

Endless Sand (Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida)

Sugar White Sand (Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida)

Pelicans on the Pier, Venice Beach, California.

Posing Pelicans on the Pier (Venice Beach, California)

Tidepooling at Bandon, Oregon

Tidepooling (Bandon, Oregon)

Lifelong Friends (Chicago, Illinois)

Friendships That Last a Lifetime (Chicago, Illinois)


♪ My Favorite Things, Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II

~Also a favorite!


This week’s “A Word a Week Photography Challenge” theme is Favourite.

Posted in Today's Special | Tagged: , , , , , , | 16 Comments »

Weekly Photo Challenge: Good Morning!

Posted by Jody on October 5, 2013

Carefree Morning for Father and Son

Carefree Morning on Alabama’s Gulf Coast

This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Good Morning!”


Posted in Today's Special | Tagged: , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

And forget not…

Posted by Jody on September 27, 2013

Along the Oregon Coast

Along the Oregon Coast

And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.

~Kahlil Gibran


Posted in Pacific Coast Beaches, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Weekend Wondering

Posted by Jody on August 17, 2013

McClures Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, Northern California

McClures Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, Northern California

Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.

~Saint Augustine


Posted in Northern California Beaches, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

A Gift from the Sea

Posted by Jody on June 29, 2013

Gift from the Sea

Gift from the Sea

The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient.

One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea.

~Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From the Sea


Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Seashells, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , | 16 Comments »

It’s the First Day of Summer ~ Playtime!

Posted by Jody on June 21, 2013

Surfside Beach, Texas

Playtime at Surfside Beach

“It is a happy talent to know how to play.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson


This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge topic is “The World Through Your Eyes.”

Posted in Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 17 Comments »

Thoughtful Thursday

Posted by Jody on May 2, 2013

La Jolla, Southern California

La Jolla, Southern California

“When was the last time you spent a quiet moment just doing nothing -

just sitting and looking at the sea, or watching the wind blowing the tree limbs,

or waves rippling on a pond, a flickering candle or children playing in the park?”

~ Ralph Marston, The Daily Motivator


Posted in Southern California Beaches, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , | 16 Comments »

Weekly Photo Challenge: Color

Posted by Jody on April 5, 2013

Color ~ The Old Point Loma Lighthouse Lens

Color ~ The Old Point Loma Lighthouse Lens

The Old Point Loma Lighthouse – Illuminating the Past

The Old Point Loma Lighthouse stood watch over the entrance to San Diego Bay for 36 years. At dusk on November 15, 1855, the light keeper climbed the winding stairs and lit the light for the first time. What seemed to be a good location 422 feet above sea level, however, had a serious flaw. Fog and low clouds often obscured the light. On March 23, 1891, the light was extinguished and the keeper moved to a new lighthouse location closer to the water at the tip of the Point.

Old Point Loma Lighthouse at Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego, California

Old Point Loma Lighthouse at Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego, California

Today, the Old Point Loma Lighthouse still stands watch over San Diego, sentinel to a vanished past. The National Park Service has refurbished the interior to its historic 1880s appearance – a reminder of a bygone era. Ranger-led talks, displays, and brochures are available to explain the lighthouse’s interesting past.

Source: National Park Service

About the light: The original Old Point Loma lighthouse lens was hand crafted by Frenchman Henry-Lepaute. His beautiful master work was constructed with polished brass and several hundred hand-ground crystal prisms. Classified as a 3rd Order Fresnel lens, and weighing in at 1985 pounds, the light measures 5’2″ in height. When in operation, the beacon could be seen from more than 20 miles out to sea.

The beautifully maintained Old Point Loma Lighthouse is still quite a lovely sight to see!


Related link: A Visit to the Tide Pools at Cabrillo National Monument

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Color

Posted in Lighthouses | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »


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