Davenport Beach, California Coast, October 2011. I'd say I was hesitant to post a set of images so similar to these, but that would have been a lie.
Foxfires on the strand
Tide in or out, the sea rolls on shore hard from the south, around the taller ramparts and into this beautiful, tiered shelf of tide pools and stalwart stone. The stack is a shape-shifter, a spire, a needle from the cliff and a monolith from the shore. It's a bulwark upon which the breakers beat. It's a sentry post for a lone gull, holding court over the gathering shadow. It's a fang the earth has driven through the sea and brine runs down its flank like drool. The churn dredges sand up onto the shelf and surely makes life in the tide pool a dangerous, violent business. Yet there is life that tenaciously clings to the stone. A chaparral of muscles cover the surface and here and there a bit of green kelp burns upon ebony rock like foxfire on the brow of a fallen oak in the midnight corner of some damp, darkly-canopied forest.
If I were to pick one bit of rocky shore as my favorite amongst all the craggy and beautiful California limbs, it would be this small beach in Davenport. The town is the definition of sleepy, a small gathering of crosswalks and one or two businesses supported by the local strawberry ranchers and traffic shuttling between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay. It gets locked in fog thick as muslin during the summer months. There's a Victorian-era pier rotting in the surf around the next rampart.
The Waiting Game
I've learned that seascapes are a waiting game more so even than landscapes. Shutter speed is paramount to conveying drama, but timing is everything. One must wait for the right wave to come tumbling in to set the tide pool into an eddy, for the barrel of a cresting wave to have just the right shape. The next wave is massive and cresting, but in the frame it's distant, smaller even than the death rattle of the previous wave coming to deposit its foam in the pool at my feet. Waiting for the right set of waves, waiting for the right movement can be a dangerous business when the camera is but a few inches from the ground and that next surge is moving in fast.
It's own World
This rock shelf, photographically, scientifically, biologically, is it's own world. Returning here again and again is no waste of opportunity. I could do it ten times in five days and come away with something new each time. Everything is complex, fascinating and enlightening and we are all too often guilty of ignoring that little fact. A great photograph shows us what it is we refuse to see plainly with our own eyes.