Washed Up

By Susan Greene
Taking a walk along the sea shore, with eyes cast down, encountering the multitude of items washed up on the sand can get the curious wondering. “Where did that come from?”, “is this flotsam or jetsam?”  and more questions will flood the inquiring mind.

seaweed and seashellsSeaweed and sea shells, even though an expected sight, will trigger pondering of the places they’ve been.  What happened to the rest of the plant or the sea creature that once called a shell home?

seaweed and sea shells

How far have these bits traveled?

seaweed on shorePhilosophically, how did these end up in this location, at this time, in this shape at the same time as I?

seaweed on shoreSeaweed, according to the NOAA website, is “utterly essential to innumerable marine creatures, both as food and as habitat, they also provide many benefits to land-dwellers, notably those of the human variety.” It also comes in many shapes and sizes. seaweed on shore

Finding myself tangled up in seaweed thought, I stumble upon something unexpected.

sea shells on shoreA mussel shell like a tiny bowl full of water, even though the tide is out and everything in the immediate vicinity is dry makes me curious, but not as curious as this…

rope on shoreIf only it could talk, what stories would be shared of its journey and ultimate arrival on the sand in Redondo Beach, California?

Spotting sea glass on the local shores is not an everyday occurrence and when it does, I view it as a gift, and also start wondering: how long was it in the sea? what type of bottle was it? how did it break apart?

sea shells and sea glass on shoreIn the absence of concrete answers, let your imagination run wild. The rope is from a colorful fishing vessel off Mexico. The glass is from a Japanese saki bottle and has been in the water for 25 years. The seaweed has floated down the coast from Alaska before getting caught in a current and deposited on this shore all the while playing host to many sea creatures. You get the picture.

Visit the NOAA  website if you would like to learn a bit more about seaweed regarding some of the health properties and benefits to humans and sea creatures.

I will be at water’s edge creating back stories for the lost and found.

~ Susan

Prints in the Sand

Walking in the sand, head down, lost in the search for textures, it struck me. No, not a bird dropping or any other such beach related object, but the idea that the sand at the beach,  is like a mini sand dune and the texture of the surface is revealed through shadows. The indents and dips created by the movement of man, animal and machine traversing from path to shore produce patterns and reveal clues to the activities of those who have tread before.

tire track in sandThe smooth sand is as smooth as a blank canvas and has no shadows but add the imprints of feet, tires, rolling balls or dragged surfboards and an image is exposed.

bird feet prints in sand

The sand above was stirred up by a machine but only partly disturbed, the rest remains smooth except for the tell tale sign of a visit by a seagull.

_MG_2347The deeper the imprint the darker the shadow.

_MG_2352There seems to be evidence of a dog having been in this section, maybe chasing after the bird.

_MG_2360A barefooted stroller as well as a sneaker clad one and a seagull left evidence of having passed this way.

DSC_0235Later in the day, the shadows are longer and the textures even more pronounced.

Try a texture revealing shadow hunt yourself. It offers another way to see the world around you.

~ Susan

the close-up color

_MG_1953Inspired by a photo accompanying a book excerpt in Shutterbug magazine, I looked at a collection of mine differently. This spurred the realization of the potential for color exploration and abstraction. Pastels and earth tones are the most prevalent colors of my array.

_MG_1993I have gathered these from both near and far.

_MG_1964I am looking at this collection in a whole new light.

_MG_1986The interplay of the shapes and colors is something I am just discovering about my array.

_MG_1966I like this mystery game.

_MG_2045I am especially drawn to the pastel pink and flesh tones in the one above, as well as the vibrant hues of this one.

_MG_2037Whereas, the earth tones of this one are not to be downplayed.

_MG_1968If you haven’t guessed yet, these next few photos will probably give away the items in my collection.

_MG_1955Did you guess yet?

_MG_2024Last chance.

_MG_1937You probably got it by now . . . sea shells!

I confess to being a long time beachcomber. My collection adorns many of the window sills in my home. Gazing upon them transports me to the various shores where, while strolling, they were spotted, picked up and lovingly chosen for various reasons – their flawlessness, uniqueness or color. I will always remember once, many years ago, coming home and sharing the day’s treasures of the sea with my mom by placing them in her hand, and the shriek she let out when one of them began moving across her palm – I had inadvertently collected a crab’s home – sorry mom and crab: I did return it to the sea.

I have gotten more careful and choosy over the the years but still enjoy a long afternoon strolling the sand with an eye out for a new addition to my collection. Now, I have another criteria for selection – as the possible subject of a color, abstract photo.

The book excerpted in Shutterbug magazine is The New Art of Photographing Nature: An Updated Guide to Composing Stunning Images of Animals, Nature and Landscapes by Art Wolfe and Martha Hill with Tim Grey. Judging from the pictures accompanying the article, I would like to see what these three have to say.

This week either gazing at my window sill or out looking for new treasures.

~ Susan

Into the Blue – Waves

There are many different shades of blue, 62 according to Wikipedia. There’s sky blue, deep sky blue, cerulean, baby blue, and, as a September baby one of my favorites, sapphire blue; just to name a few. The ocean has a dynamic color quality. The shades change and vary on different days and even at different times of day. Add to that variety the constant motion of the waves and you end up with a dazzling display.

_MG_1506I went to the shore with the intent of freezing the waves in motion. That moment right before they break when the water becomes translucent and the light shines through is my target.

_MG_1605I was struck by the added delight of the different shades of blue on display. It was late afternoon and the sun positioned behind the waves making it’s way towards the west and the horizon.

_MG_1489Sometimes, the sun’s beams shone through the waves.

_MG_1529Other times, the water appears like glass. The blue of the waves changing as it makes its way to shore.

_MG_1568When shooting towards the sun the blue is lost a bit in the glare.

_MG_1543

Aiming away from the sun the blue is most apparent. Capturing the waves,

_MG_1545

at the moment they are about to break,

_MG_1546is never the same twice.

_MG_1572The waves, even though not particularly large this day, possess a power. For me, it’s the power to mesmerize and lead to a relaxing meditation on their constant roll to shore. Then, the challenge to catch, with a photo, the split second in the cycle of one wave and ponder the array of blue hues present there. Other days, it’s the call to grab a boogie board and harness the power for fun.

This October if you are a fan of baseball and a certain southern California team, there is another shade of blue to get excited about – Dodger blue! Yes, it is one of the 62 shades listed in Wikipedia.

Go Dodgers!

~ Susan

surf shutter

_MG_9279surf shutterFor the exploration of the last aspect of the exposure triangle, shutter speed, I slipped into my flip flops and headed to the beach – click on the highlighted elements of the other two parts of the triangle, ISO  (also here ) and f-stop , if you missed them and want to catch up. The shutter controls how long the camera’s sensor is exposed to light. Shutter speed  is measured by fractions of a second and the numbers represent the denominator of the fraction,  a higher number is a faster speed, 500 is 1/500th of a second, which lets in less light and a smaller number is a slower speed, 13 is 1/13th of a second, which lets in more light. The numbers get lower until you get to a whole second which is denoted by 1″ and from there the numbers starts climbing again, my camera’s high end is 30″, or thirty seconds. The shutter also controls whether you will freeze an action in your scene or blur it. If the shutter is open longer, a slower shutter speed, there is more time for the camera to record motion. This is where you can get creative with your use of shutter speed. Moving water is fun to play around with. When exposed using a slower shutter speed, the water takes on a velvety look. For this photo, I used a shutter speed of 1/13.

_MG_9173surf shutterThen to freeze the water and capture the drops I used a shutter speed of 1/1000.

_MG_9190surf shutterThe exposure triangle comes in to play here because when you adjust one of the elements you have to compensate by adjusting one or both of the others to obtain a correct exposure. For the first photo, the shutter speed was 1/13 and the f-stop 22 with an ISO of 100. It was fairly early in the morning and beginning to get bright out (even though the sky was gray with clouds) so I had to shut my aperture down to the smallest opening possible and put the ISO down low to cut the light sensitivity of the camera in order to be able to use a slower shutter speed and capture the velvet blur of the waves’ motion. In the second photo, I raised the ISO to 200 and opened the aperture to f4 and used a shutter speed of 1/1000.

An egret flew in for a look about and stayed for awhile as I snapped away at the yellow-footed beauty. First, I wanted to catch it with detail and freeze any movement it might make and used a shutter speed of 1/125.

_MG_9212surf shutterThen, I wanted to capture the movement of the bird walking along the shore and switched the shutter to 1/13.

_MG_9214 surf shutterStanding perpendicular to the waves is a way to be able to capture the movement. A 1/6 shutter speed was the setting for this one, giving the water a soft, smooth appearance.

_MG_9235surf shutterAt a shutter speed of 1/500, you can see how the details in the water are distinguishable and the wave is frozen in mid-air.

_MG_9273 surf shutterIf your shutter speed is too low and you don’t have a tripod, you may end up with a blurry picture due to camera shake. In general, for hand-held photography use a shutter speed at or higher than the focal length of your lens, for example if the focal length of your lens is 100mm, you want to use shutter speeds of 100 or greater. The longer the focal length the more susceptible the camera is to camera shake. There may be times that you just have to use a tripod to get the shot.

If you are interested in further exploration of capturing motion check out this previous post.

With an eye for action this week,

~ Susan

Some of us work, some of us play

umbrellasAnd the tireless poet celebrates you all.
For your Monday morning reading pleasure, Day 29 poem:

Litany to Our Saints of Perpetual Summer
To the umbrella bearers and the striped short wearers:
Play for us.

To the sand ploppers and the watermelon choppers:
Play for us.

To the sleeping babies, squalling babies, toddling babies and nursing babies:
Play for us.

To the squealing toddlers who wear twirly skirts
and the fathers who swoop them out of waves’ way:
Play for us.

To the man dragging his foot in a cast across sand
trailing woman with red feathers stuck in her headband:
Play for us.

To all you straggly-haired feral boys who skim board at dawn and the mongrel who yelps at you:
Play for us.

To the teenage girl in black trunks and the white shirt skipping rocks in the surf
and the boy on a rock in the shadow (yes I see you) rolling weed on your skateboard:
Play for us.

To the tortilla maker, the chocolate chip baker, the spring roll roller and potato chip taker:
Play for us.

To mothers who brush sand off sons’ backs
and little girls squinting eyes against sunscreen spray:
Play for us.

To all the young girls wearing fringe string bikinis and boys in sagged bottoms,
all the hands holding hands, and the waited-for-kisses:
Play for us.

To smash ballers, and crossword scholars;
to football throwers, and volleyball spikers, to frisbee catchers and sand unicyclers;
to the lady in red cowboy hat skipping with a man in green paisley head scarf:
Play for us.

To the anorexic and the morbidly obese and the lifeguards who save us:
Play for us.

To the girl taking a picture of the boy taking a picture of himself at the beach with a girl:
Play for us.

Here’s to beer guts and melon round pink baby bellies
To furry-backed men with Brazilian-waxed babes in gold jellies
To old guys in puka shells and shark-teeth leather leashes
To thongs and board shorts and long skirts fluttering on beaches
To tattoos of stars, tattoos of tears, tattoos of dolphins and cherubs and spears
To tattoos of skulls and tattoos of crosses, to tattoos of names so as to not forget losses

To the blue cooler bearers and the plastic pail pickers
To the haters and the lovers and the daily sun seekers
To the tide pool pluckers and the drooling day nappers
To the rock sculpture builders and the sand castle blasters
To the brown bag lunch packers and the debit card snackers
To the trash bin pickers and the empty can nickers
To shade where you need it and free bathrooms and benches
and to workers cleaning up after us in the sand’s sandy trenches

To the entire communion of summer vacation day souls:
Please, please, play for us.

___________________________________________________

You’ll find dozens of more delightful poems for July on the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project website where “Litany to Our Saints of Perpetual Summer” first appeared.

Happiness,
~Catherine

What’s an F-stop?

We have explored ISO and the effect it has on exposure the last couple of weeks and next, we will consider another component of the exposure triangle in photography: aperture. The aperture is the opening in a lens, which can be adjusted to be larger, smaller or somewhere in between. The numbers representing this opening are called f-stops. The f/stop numbers have an inverse relation to the opening size: the smaller value of the number the larger the opening in the lens and more light is let in; conversely, the larger the numerical value the smaller the lens opening and less light is available.

_MG_8079anemoneWhen shooting at a wider opening or, a smaller numbered f-stop, the depth of field is also affected. With the lower f-stops or smaller numbers, you have a shallower depth of field; especially helpful when you want to isolate your subject from the background.

_MG_8083anemoneHere, using an f/5.6, the anemone is in focus but the top portion of the photo is beginning to blur.

A smaller f-stop can also be used when shooting landscapes and you want to bring attention to one element or person.

_MG_5453shore cactusSince the ocean is on a very different plane than the cactus the ocean water details turn a velvety blue when using the f/5.6 setting in this photo.

For the egret in flight, a f/7.1 setting was used which results in most of the elements of the photo in focus.

_MG_8564egretWhen everything in sharp focus is the goal than an f-stop of 11 or higher should be used. For this landscape, I chose a setting of f/22.

_MG_8088rocky shoreIf you would like to re-visit another backyard sisters post on depth of field and f/stops using a different subject click here.

Also, if you would like to learn more about exposure, there is an excellent book by Bryan Peterson titled Understanding Exposure, it gives an in-depth explanation of the different aspects of the exposure triangle accompanied by creative and colorful photos.

This week you will find me out looking for depth in my field,

~ Susan