An image that makes you say wow. That’s what this is for me. The clouds moving across the peaks, the freshly fallen snow on the treetops, and the light filtered by the breaking up of the low cloud cover combine into a photograph with interest.
One reason the landscape of Cape Cod has drawn so many artists over the years is that the unique light comes in endless variations, creating so many opportunities and feelings. Here are a few images from my trip last month that show these variations.
Sunset at Wellfleet
Endless Beach in Truro
Cape Cod Bay, Wellfleet
Apparent in these images is the enduring allure of the sea. The potential for encountering an unusual experience like these seascapes drives the attraction. It is fueled by the mystery of what lies beyond.
Sea smoke and snowfall limit view of any reference point and remove our sense of place. The unseen vast distances of ocean generating the waves become the subject of wonder.
I made this photograph of the ocean during Hurricane Sandy last fall. I really like how the image feels as though it is from a long time ago. It has a real timeless quality.
Full of endless marshes, inlets and beaches to explore, Cape Cod forever shows me new wondrous moments. Early on a summer morning, I rose in the dark to catch the sunrise only to find the landscape totally engulfed by fog. Determined to make the best of it, I loaded a small borrowed kayak onto my roof to go exploring. I previously had mapped out a small area of Pleasant Bay in Orleans as a good option, so I set out to find a spot to launch the boat.
The town “boat launch” and foggy environs
Deterred several times by disappointing private road and residents only signs, I finally located a public landing with a small path down to the water’s edge. I splashed in and set out across the bay. There was a slight headwind through the fog, but I was going much slower than I should be given the only slight breeze. The kayak was terrible! It was way too short and heavy and wouldn’t go in a straight line – that’s what you get for a borrowed boat I suppose. Needless to say this was not a proper sea kayak with a rudder. Despite the awkward movements of my vessel, I continued to head out into the middle of the bay, aimed for the opposite shore, which I later found out to be Pochet Island on the back side of Nauset Beach.
Heading into the mist early on a Cape Cod morning
Still quite fogged in, I reached the opposite shore, though I couldn’t see more than a 100 feet. Paddling along I stopped quite often to photograph various angles of the island’s shoreline in the fog. While trying many different compositions in my viewfinder, I didn’t feel like I was capturing any images I was really excited about. I kept following the marshy shoreline, hoping for something a little different.
I continued along the edge of this island for quite a while and came to what appeared to be an inlet. It is difficult to tell the difference between an inlet worth exploring and minor variations in the shoreline in these marshy labyrinths. I proceeded to paddle through the inlet stopping to drift about and capture the more interesting undulations of the inlet.
Pochet Island and the entrance to the inlet
Being a tidal estuary, it was difficult to tell what was solid ground and what was bottomless mud interspersed with clumps of marshes grasses, but I endeavored to find a spot where I could stand up and capture an angle other than the just-above-the-water kayak viewpoint. I had reached the terminus of the inlet and found a hefty looking clump of grass that would at least let me stand up. I stepped out onto the edge of this tiny island and immediately sank into the mud, nearly loosing my sandal. With one hand and half my body still awkwardly clingy to the kayak, I managed to flop back in. Time for a different approach. I paddled out about 20 feet from the grass’s edge, and paddled as fast as a could and rammed the kayak into the grass clump. After oooching further into the grass as best I could, I finally stepped onto something sort of kind of solid and was able to stand for a better view.
Looking back down the inlet – my favorite image of the day
Looking back at the inlet I had just paddled down, an excellent image presented itself. The ins and outs of the edges of the inlet and irregular curves the path of the water takes through the grass made an excellent composition. The fog finally started to break as the sun strengthened and I was able to get just a little more visibility and definition along the edge of the grass where it falls into the water. Now I knew I had some great images!
As the sun strengthened even more, the scene turned from thick, gray fog into warm light that gave the environment an atmospheric feeling. I turned away from the inlet and to look out over the vast marsh toward Nauset and had time to grab two quick frames before the light started to dim again. Those few shots turned out to be the most interesting from that morning!
Looking over the vast marsh towards Nauset – the increasing sunlight through the lifting fog give this image a warmer, atmospheric feel
I made this image about an hour after sunrise in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. The satin like appearance of the snow gives it a soft, glowing feel that is contrasted by the magnitude of the mountain and its sheer cliff faces. These two disparate elements working in concert make this a compelling and fascinating image for me.
The Wasatch Mountains as seen from the greater Salt Lake City area. This image has several strong diagonals repeated both in the mountain ridges and clouds, giving it a dynamic, powerful feel.
My last post featured a series of dramatic photographs of the Franconia Range, and I wanted to follow it up with some more images of this magnificent area. This grouping shows the textured slopes of Mount Lafayette, the highest peak in the range.
Where the previous set of images focused on creating a very dramatic feel, these are calmer and gentler in style, though they still convey a sense of the immensity of the mountain. The very limited color palette contributes to the calming effect and gives them an almost warm feel in comparison to the black and white set. These feel uplifting and optimistic where the others feel powerful and ominous.
Franconia Notch in New Hampshire’s White Mountains has attracted many artists over the years, and with good reason, it is one of the most stunning mountain landscapes in New England. Around this time, two years ago some friends and I spent a very cold night in the Lafayette place campground. Our trip was not without reward; we watched the entire Franconia ridge line bathed in beautiful alpenglow as the sun set.
The day’s hike was a quick jaunt to Lonesome Lake, during which we watched massive cloud banks float over the peaks. Each peak in the Franconia range continuously drifted in and out of the clouds — It was truly mesmerizing to watch the endless formations moving quickly across the frozen alpine landscape. This scene lends itself incredibly well to making these dramatic black and white images. They are very classic in style, yet are exciting and powerful. Images like these never get old.