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Rocks and Surf, Garrapata Beach, Big Sur

Posted by
Gary Hart (California, United States) on 26 December 2009 in Landscape & Rural and Portfolio.

One of the great challenges of photography is extracting the extraordinary essence from the ordinary familiar. For most people a trip to the beach means sunscreen and sandcastles, umbrellas and beach towels, swimsuits and surfboards. But even the most prosaic beach has an emotional tug that's difficult to explain. Much of the tug is initiated by non-visual sensory triggers: crashing surf, ocean spray, sea smell. On a deeper level, a beach is the collision of the fluid independence of the sea and the solid permanence of land, where irresistible force meets immovable object. This dichotomy simultaneously soothes and stimulates.

Something most compelling nature photographs have in common is the tension brought by change or colliding opposites. At a beach it's the clash between fixed and fluid; weather images (dramatic clouds, rainbows, lightning, and so on) are also about the struggle between solid and fluid; sunrise/sunset images reflect the day/night transition. The more you can convey this tension, and represent both sides of the "battle," the more your photographs will move people.

In this image, taken 20 minutes after sunset, I tried to convey both the fluidity and permanence of the beach, using solid rocks to anchor the frame, and a long exposure to convey the motion of the surf. These two competing dynamics create a wonderful tension that (for me at least) restores an important essence of the beach experience.

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Thanks for visiting. Even if I don't respond, your comments are always read and appreciated.

Tamara from Aarschot, Belgium

I love the effect on the water ! Very nice treatment Gary :)

26 Dec 2009 11:00am

Don Smith from California, United States


26 Dec 2009 4:51pm

john4jack from Corvallis, Oregon, United States

Your commentary described exactly what I felt!! Stunning detail in the rock. The water has a mystical feeling.

26 Dec 2009 4:55pm

Vitor Martins from Lisboa, Portugal

Beautiful image. I like the foregroun and the colors have something magic.

26 Dec 2009 9:16pm

Self-Indulgence from Chicagoland, United States

Exquisite colors and an absolutely silken sea.

27 Dec 2009 4:29am

Stefan from Thiersee, Austria


27 Dec 2009 9:51am

Tracy from La Selva Beach, United States

I am so often drawn to the shoreline to photograph, and your description perfectly describes some of the reasons why...This image does indeed move me...not just visually- I can feel the texture of the rock and the sand, hear the surf, and feel the chill in the air, and even though the photograph is still I know that this is ever-changing, tugging and puling of the water on land- and that this scene will never happen just like this again!
Merry Christmas to you and your family Gary!

27 Dec 2009 1:57pm

Angela Smith Photography from Portland, United States

Such amazing color! Wonderful capture!

27 Dec 2009 11:37pm

DarkElf from Perth, Australia

wonderful dreamy image - excellent composition, from interesting and eye catching rocks to the water above - great use of long exposure!

28 Dec 2009 5:54am

Magda from Vancouver, Canada

Your work is always outstanding!

31 Dec 2009 7:08am

Ana Lúcia from Leiria, Portugal

Now that is truly beautiful.

31 Dec 2009 8:43am

dkc from Xanthi, Greece

I really love the way you captured the sea in the one...Stunning!!

1 Jan 2010 8:32pm

Meysam from Montreal, Canada

Amazing long exposure shot. Marvelous. Absolutely stunning!

1 Jan 2010 9:00pm



2 Jan 2010 10:07am

Loner from Wörgl, Austria

So great !A photo better than the other! For me are yours the best scenery photos in "Aminus"

2 Jan 2010 12:58pm

Marie-France from Sceaux d, France


3 Jan 2010 3:09pm

Didier DE ZAN from somewhere, France

Very beautiful texture and colors

5 Jan 2010 5:47am

Kelly Morvant from Lafayette, United States

Beautiful image and wonderful writing! Thanks, Gary!

7 Jan 2010 5:47pm

Barbara Kile from Ft. Worth, United States

Amazing detail in the foreground rock - it almost glistens! The rock is isolated in it's 'space' yet my eye travels through the image nicely. Love the comp.

8 Jan 2010 4:19pm

Aubélia from Kortrijk, Belgium


18 Mar 2011 11:12am