Reflections on 2014, with Thanks

Spring Lake Reflection

Friends,

Walking the tide line has been a reflective practice for most of my life. About five years ago I began to take notice of the still lifes created by the tide, wind, and light. Learning to photograph them and then create this blog has been a personal challenge that I continue to enjoy. In 2014 I tried to learn to use a macro lens, my Christmas gift in 2013. I found that the arrangements that I photograph often shift or disappear too quickly for me to employ a tripod and focus. Hopefully, 2015 will see me learning to use this lens. I also hope to figure out ways to improve this blog itself in the coming year. I know that I do not use all that WordPress.com has to offer. This blog is very, very simplistic!

This past year has taken me to walk some of Florida’s sugar sand gulf beaches with my best friend, and along rainy tide lines in South Carolina. My husband took me to Nova Scotia for our anniversary where we explored mud flats on the Bay of Fundy, walked sandy expanses on the Atlantic coast, and explored fossil-strewn pebble beaches. It was fun learning to look for still lifes on new tide lines, and I discovered that I don’t do nearly as well on pebble beaches as I do on sand. A business trip west to Portland provided us with several hours on the bouldered Oregon coast where myriad salp sparkled on the edges of tidal washes. It was impossible to capture this with my camera, so that picture is committed to memory. I also had the joy of visiting family in Northumberland, where I was able to visit one of very favorite beaches anywhere, Cocklawburn, near Berwick-Upon-Tweed. I don’t know why I love it there so much, but I do. It is one of my heart places. Late this year I was also privileged to have several photographs included a gallery show. The Upper Gallery in Spring Lake’s Community House is a lovely, intimate space. Do visit if you are in town.

Even after having walked and photographed many beautiful beaches this year, my favorite tide line to walk along and photograph is a still a several block stretch here in New Jersey. There is not much variety in the marine life from week to week, but it is where I am most comfortable. With repetition, though, I am learning to look closely and to identify the remarkable in the familiar. I love how the winds toss holly and dried maple leaves to the edge of the ocean, and how the waves bring up ordinary mussel shells and marine life and deposit them in extraordinary arrangements. An occasional dried hydrangea blossom tangles with a crab carapace, and rainbow-hued coquinas scatter like tiny jewels. The early morning light creates dramatic and sometime humorous shadows. I love this tide line, this short stretch on New Jersey’s long coast. It is familiar, it is always inspiring, it is home.

So thank you all for your follows and likes this past year. I truly appreciate your kind comments, and I take great joy in how small the world has become through this blog. I hope that you continue to enjoy my simple photographs. May they sometimes offer you a short respite from a busy day, or be a pause to refresh a tired spirit. May they simply make you smile. Heartfelt thanks to The Borough of Spring Lake for all that they do to keep our beaches beautiful. Thanks also to WordPress.com for creating this year’s report.

“I imagine a line, a white line, painted on the sand and on the ocean, from me to you.” (Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated)

Warmly,
Maggie

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,400 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Simplicity in Line and Shadow . . . And an Anniversary!

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I just now realized that this is my one year anniversary on this site: one year of posting photographs of the tide line. With the exception of several days in July when I had difficulty with internet connection, I have managed to post every day.

Most of my photography is done along the tide lines in New Jersey, USA, and most of those photographs are from the small town of Spring Lake. Let me tell you, it has been a bitterly cold winter on this beach! Some days this winter I battled freezing fingers and streaming eyes because I could not ignore the beautiful still lifes arranged by our too-frequent storms. I also managed to visit several warmer locations this past year, (FL and the BVI), and have also included on the blog several photos from a visit the year prior to one of my favorite beaches anywhere, Cocklawburn (England).

I have been walking tide lines since, well, since I learned to walk! The beach has always been my place of calmness and solitude, even in the summer when it is teeming with people. Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s book, Gift of the Sea, has been a favorite book since college. The sea spoke to her, too. If you have not read any of her work, I encourage you to do so. She was a woman of grace and strength.

Eleven years ago, I took up scuba diving and find it as peaceful and meditative as walking a tide line. Well, most of the time. The shark dives with Stuart Coves that were my 55th birthday present from my husband were not very meditative . . . but they won’t count! I suppose it is the ocean that is “my” place, and not just its shores.

I don’t remember when I started to notice still lifes along the tide line; it was decades ago. However, I began photographing them just a few years ago when we attended our nephew’s wedding in Huntingdon Beach, CA. None of the photographs from that trip were noteworthy, but they were the catalyst. After that trip I became driven to record some of the remarkable arrangements that I find when I walk. Some of the arrangements I find are actually humorous, some are stunningly beautiful and captivating, and others are simple and meditative. I hope to begin to categorize the photos this spring, in part because my files are becoming unruly!

Simply stated, I started this blog because I wanted to learn. After retiring the year prior from education (teacher and dean), I wanted to do something that would continue to challenge me artistically and technologically. I wanted to continue as a learner, as I have encouraged my middle schoolers to do.

I blog almost exclusively from my iPad, and primarily use Snapseed for any minor editing. The WordPress app is not ideal (and every iteration seems to have some glitch or another), but it works, and it allows me to take my blog with me wherever I go. Next year’s goals include learning to use Photoshop more successfully. I photograph with a Nikon D3200 using an AF-Nikkor 18-55ml, and another goal for the year ahead is to learn to work with the macro lens that my husband gave me for Christmas. I also hoped that through blogging, I could learn from other photographers, and I certainly have! This I KNOW will continue (thank you all!).

What I was unprepared for was the community aspect of blogging; I have grown to appreciate this probably most of all. Comments and critiques from regular followers serve to inform my work and enhance the experience in ways that surprise me and teach me. This is the richest aspect of blogging.

So thanks ever so much to all those who follow my work on Tide Line Still Life. Please continue to inform and critique, and know that you are appreciated. I relish your thoughts, and even a simple ‘like’ brightens my day. To those whose photography I follow, please continue to grow so that I may continue to learn from you. I will, in turn, endeavor to keep learning and growing through the next year.

Today’s Still Life:
This photo, to me, is one of those that I could look at for a long time. I find the complexity of lines in the shell fragment fascinating and complex, and a foil to the simple line of the reed. The shadow grounds the objects and ties them to one another. It is a simple photograph on a day that I have been uncharacteristically chatty!

Really, it is amazing to think about all the “accidental” beauty that is at my feet when I walk the tide line!