In this area of South Carolina, on the far bottom “corner” of the map, more often than not it is the dance of light between sea and sky that result in the landscape photographs that have the most visual impact and strongest emotional connection between photographer and viewer. Actual “land” is kept at a minimum. Just a sliver of shoreline or beach or perhaps a wandering marshland. Horizons are minimal. The eye of the landscape photographer is pulled skyward, or below along a watery expanse of ocean or estuary. Sometimes rules are broken and the thin line of horizon is stretched right across the middle of the frame, in those moments when there’s a balance in the dance of light and color from above and below.
April through May along the coast of South Carolina is only matched by October through November in the quality of light for landscape photography. It has always been during those times when I find myself in the midst of sea, sky and light that literally takes my breath away. I’ll stand wide-eyed in unbelief of the beauty that I find myself within. I grapple with camera, lens and tripod while thinking “yes, this is what I’m meant to do. There’s a reason I’m here to capture this.”
Last week presented two of those experiences, on successive evenings at sunset. What was truly fascinating was the contrast between the light and scenes captured while on the water Thursday evening to the photographs of Friday at sunset. Thursday was a storm front passing overhead with shapes, shadows and filtered light that changed the color on the waves to something I’ve never seen before. On Friday calm prevailed in the sky with the hypnotic stare of an enormous full Moon rising over the Atlantic while the waves of a high tide in spring reached all the way to the forward edge of the dunes.
Grace. That’s what keeps coming to mind when I think of the experience of being present in these places and in those moments of ethereal light. Whether on the coast of South Carolina or in the Appalachian foothills of Southeastern Ohio or the high desert and mountains of New Mexico. Grace through gratitude for the opportunity to be lost within the light.
Thursday evening, April 5 2012, on Broad Creek | Hilton Head Island:
Friday evening, April 6 2012 @ Burke’s Beach | Hilton Head Island: