Welcome to our galleries page: Oceans

 

Few of us are immune to the pull of the oceans.  Whether it is a primal thing, entirely instinctive, possibly to do with our watery origins, or simply the calming affect we feel when we gaze upon its grandeur, its steady horizon, its ever changing colors and textures, or the rhythm of its perpetual motion.  Morning or noon, day or night, harbor calms or shore face surf, there is always, something somewhere for every viewer.  In the images that follow,  we hope to convey some of those moods and moments.

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A small squadron of the almost ever-present Pacific Brown Pelicans wings effortlessly over a textured and turbulent Pacific ocean surface.  One of our favorite and reassuring sights along our frequent coastal sojourns.

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Close to home in Laguna Beach, we often see spectacular sunsets and sunrises.  Sometimes, the moon becomes a player in these scenes, as it did here, one recent fall dawn.  On this particular day the atmospherics were an odd mix, the colors unusual.  For this scene, a single shot seemed barely adequate.

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Perhaps one of the most beautiful and romantic places on the face of the planet: Big Sur, in California, astounds us every time we are there.  The physical beauty of the forests, the sea cliffs, the open beaches, yes, yes; but the light and the air!!  The swirling mists, the sun through the branches of tall redwoods, the ocean's reflections through the veils of sea fog, the sunsets.  Each day when we awake, the day's plan is dictated by the weather and the surf, the tides and the rip currents.  Will it be rain or shine, where, when and what should we take a break for lunch and dinner?  Nepenthe for sure, Deetjens down the road a ways...  Such great places with intriguing but very different histories.  We can't imagine Big Sur without either!

Our favorite time?  Definitely winter!!  The wetter and mysty-er the better!  The beaches, the forest trails, mostly empty.  The forests are hushed with little but the tinkle and clink of streams both below and above us.  The ocean churns and the beaches vibrate slightly to the beat of the never ending sets of swells. 

In OG-005, the lighthouse at the Big Sur Point gleams at you as it rotates about every ten seconds, a penetrating beam that swings through the gloom of a pre-dawn morning in February: a furious north west onshore wind blows carrying with it a near horizontal rain mixed with flecks of the ocean's spume.  The air tastes of salt.  The tripod barely keeps the camera steady.  I have to hold it down as the required long shutter speed runs its course.

Later the same day, the storm begins to clear out, the rain stops and as the day's end approaches, a few souls venture out for revitalizing walks on the wide, deserted beach.  Here, a solitary man stands alone looking on towards a break in the clouds.  The wind is still strong, the clouds speeding towards him and towards my camera.  The moment is both dramatic and peaceful at the same time and evokes an oddly unsettled feeling.

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Spots like the McWay Falls in the Julia Pfeiffer-Burns state park (OG-009) are emblematic of Big Sur, but the trails leading inland from the coast here, are worthy of extensive exploration.

 

Big Sur is a lot about the ocean, but it is a lot more besides that.  Hiking the woodland trail before dawn to get high above the sea fog (OG-010) and clouds as the sun rises is also part of the experience.  By the time we made it to the summit (OG-011, 012 and 013) complete with full camera regalia, we were tired and hungry, but as the sun climbed ever higher, the sea fog parted, the ocean's surface reflected back at us and to the skies high above.  The views were magnificent, and as we munched on apples, cheese and chunks of hearty whole grain bread, washed down with hot black coffee from our flask, we relished this, our reward!

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Sometimes as a photographer, it is hard to decide whether an image conveys the message better in its full and glorious color, or alternatively, if the absence of color leaves more room for the mind of the viewer to conjure up more mood and atmosphere within his or her own imagination.  Here we present an example of this: Pigeon Point lighthouse (north of Santa Cruz, California) just as the sun is showing its first rays of the day on a cold February morning.  The low light requires a long shutter speed, which in turn causes the raucousness of the Pacific's shoreline waves to become (in the image) a smoothed misty whiteness that shows better in the colorless image.  But then again, the colorless image misses entirely the loveliness of the dawn's color palette as it is splashed across the underside of the cloud canopy.  We hope you enjoy both formats! 

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Closer to home, southern California boasts a number of harbors for small boats, Newport and Dana Point harbors being the two closest to us.  Dana Point (OG-017) is an entirely man-made harbor that was built in 1971 by the Army Corps of Engineers.  Its location was chosen to take the maximum advantage of a bend in the coastline where a natural bay sits at the foot of tall sandstone and conglomeratic cliffs.  In contrast, Newport Harbor (OG-016 and OG-019), though dredged and channelized, is an entirely natural lagoon, formed as a result of the post-ice age sea level rise which flooded seawater back in-land for several miles up the enigmatically named San Diego Creek.  These flooded rivers, or "Ria's", are common along the coast of the United States and create picturesque harbors for all manner of water-craft.

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Perhaps nowhere in the oceanic realm suffuses our psyches as the "ideal" any more so than the clear, warm water surrounded shores of the near perfectly pristine islands of the South Pacific.   Whether that be French Polynesia or Fiji, these pristine dots on the maritime charts belie in their seeming simplicity, the vast complexity of their respective origins.  Day or night, from season to season, time spent in these heavens on earth is a salving experience.  Here, the roar of our modern lives is ever-so-gently rinsed from our being.  Here, the gentle lapping of salty ripples on the sandy reef debris of the beach face merges and imperceptibly blends with the gentle swoosh of trade winds in overhanging palm fronds.  In the background, a barely audible, gentle roar of surf breaking on a distant outer reef while close by, birds dart from tree to tree, carrying out a rapid fire staccato conversation in cheeps and chirps that tells us that their business goes on a pace, regardless of the relaxation we choose to take.  Magic!

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In total contrast to the tranquility and beauty of the Pacific islands, the Texas Gulf Coast is a vibrant economic engine to the continent it fringes.  One of the richest oil and gas provinces on the face of the planet, the offshore continental shelf along with the coastal wetlands and lagoons of the intra-coastal waterways are dotted with oil and gas production platforms, drilling rigs and oil and gas refineries.  And between them, utilizing the channels and cuts of the back-barrier waterway, scurry all manner of ships, barges, oil rig service tenders and both industrial and recreational fishing boats.  It is hot and it is humid for most of the year.  The coastal waters typically look like milky coffee, and yet, for us, the Gulf Coast has its own special beauty.  It is a salty place, with a history quite different to the west coast where we live.  It has seen more than its fair share of tragedy, usually delivered in the form of wind and high surf that comes in with tropical storms and hurricanes.  These elemental juggernauts sweep inland leaving behind them swaths of flooded destruction.  But between times, the miles and miles of virtually empty sand beaches can be havens of peace, quiet and solitude.  They are great places for solitary camping and as the sun rises each day, the scene can be amazingly beautiful (OG-024).

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