August 14, 2002

An Evening on a Beach (Martinique Beach, Nova Scotia)

We left Halifax for Martinique Beach late in the day, hoping to work with the setting sun and water. In the city, the day was stifling, with hot, breathless air making everything sticky and uncomfortable. The intent was to work with Miranda in the sea, with the low light of the sun. When we arrived at the coast, however, there was a brisk breeze blowing, and what I had thought would be a hot evening at the sea turned into a decidedly cool one. While Miranda and I still hoped to work with the sunset if the evening warmed up, rather than forget about photographing altogether, I opted to walk down the beach on the ocean side, and see what was there to be photographed.
6x7 cm film
The results of this casual explorations couldn't have been more surprising. We'd arrived at low tide, so the beach was as flat as could be, with long, delicate patches of sand being lightly washed by the surging of the waves. The astounding variety of textures and forms on the beach was breathtaking, and everywhere that I looked, I saw potential.
6x7 cm film
Though I had no intent when planning the evening to do landscape images, as soon as I started seeing the possibilities on the sand-flats, I set up my camera and began exploring what I was seeing. It is a difficult thing, to explain how images are created. In this space, they seemed to appear as swiftly as I could record them - as soon as one thought was pursued and recorded, another would spring up and present itself. There was a magic to the light and space which demanded an attention that I could not deny. As I worked, a flow was established, and while several images would be made of each scene, using different camera settings, I would already be looking for the next composition as the last exposure was being made.
6x7 cm film
The final results are among the most shocking of all the work of the year. I had an idea of what was happening before my lens as I made the images, but it was totally shocking how clearly the images were transferred onto film. Many of my images in the Laetitia folio have struck me for their stillness, but these images, and others from the series, have a silence to them that bordered on reverential
(which is amusing when you consider their making was accompanied by the constant white noise of the surf crashing on the beach). Without hesitation, I would say that the images I made on the beach on this particular evening are among the clearest expression I have made of the power of seeing well. When I made them, I knew that what I was composing on the ground-glass was striking; it was only when I saw the final images that I realized the translation from what I saw to what I made was striking as well.

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