Study in blue, Imperial Beach, California, 2014
Underscoring the town’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean, a pair of dolphins swims in perpetuity upon the side of an electric utility box.
Art students from a local high school designed and executed such paintings on at least sixteen such boxes. I was drawn to this particular box because of its emphasis on the color blue – one of the primary colors, and also symbolic of both the ocean and the dolphin, which usually appears to be bluish when seen in the water. I cropped the box tightly to remove all traces of the surrounding setting. In the process, I make the dolphins appear to be more a part of the ocean itself than they would be if any of the surrounding distractions were included in my frame. However, sometimes the surrounding settings for such utility boxes might help, rather than harm, the image. See the following image for an example of such an approach.
Painted electrical utility box, Imperial Beach, California, 2014.
Most of the painted electrical utility boxes that I saw in this town were surrounded with distracting contexts. The dolphin painting in the previous image had to be severely cropped to make the image work as a photograph. However this particular box was surrounded by a strikingly simple context – a stretch of concrete, and three poles, each projecting a diagonal shadow pointing towards the box and the strange looking fish that adorns its side panel. I simply backed away to include the rhythmically repeating poles and their shadows, drawing the eye towards the yellow and green fish that swims in a painted blue ocean. Meanwhile, the shadow of the box itself adds a dimensional touch that enhances the image.
Ocean riders, Imperial Beach, California, 2014
Three life-sized bronze dolphins leap towards us at the entrance an Imperial Beach park. The sculpture is by Wayland, an environmental artist who specializes in endangered marine life. It is one of several sculptures in Imperial Beach sponsored by the Port of San Diego’s Public Art Program. I used a 24mm wideangle focal length lens to make this image. By moving below the leaping dolphins, I am able to emphasize the heights dolphins can soar above the water. I place the sun just behind the flipper of the dolphin at right. The resulting halo symbolizes the energy displayed by such animals as these. The palm trees act as a thrusting counterpoint, symbolizing the nature of the place itself.
Meditation garden, Imperial Beach, California, 2014
A small wall, covered in ceramic tiles, marks the center of public “meditation garden” in an Imperial Beach neighborhood. I photographed this wall from one corner, where a sculpted half-moon is incongruously transformed into the face of mankind. The remainder of the wall recedes into the shadows. The bright yellow house next door to the garden, covered in foliage, becomes my background. The eye is caught by the moon, and then is drawn through the image to the colorful house.
Predator and prey, Imperial Beach, California, 2014
Marine life murals often cover the exteriors of local shops. This store features a voracious shark painted on one wall, along with a rendering of a cartoony octopus on a nearby metal fence. I juxtapose the two characters, causing the jagged teeth of the shark to threaten the head of the octopus. I crop the octopus to emphasize its oversized fearful eyes. The red, blue and yellow primary colors add a shocking sense of urgency to the scene.
The last bar and grill, Imperial Beach, California, 2014
Imperial Beach is the most southwesterly town in the continental United States. And at the most southwesterly corner of town stands the most southwesterly bar and grill in the continental United States. I limit my impressions of it to the graffiti inspired signage on its wall and the immediate surrounding area. This image is series of horizontal subjects, starting with the double yellow line on the road, and moving on up to a parked car, the signage itself, a series of small palms. A blue awning caps the building. The incongruously exaggerated physique, hair, and tankard carried by the waitress portrayed on the sign complements the crudely scrawled lettering. The cartoonish drawing and the graffiti-like words combine to express the carefree nature of the establishment.
Farmer’s market vendor, Imperial Beach, California, 2014
Every Friday, a local farmer’s market offers taste treats to visitors and locals alike. I photographed one of its vendors as he checks his phone behind the counter of his booth. He is selling freshly prepared Indian food. My photograph expresses the nature of his multi-tasking. Not only is studying the screen of his smart phone at this moment, but the open container he holds under one arm tells us that he also remains ready to quickly serve a customer. The play of light and color on the scene is essential – the folds in the yellow canvas siding of the booth sweep through the image and point directly to the silvered row of hot trays arrayed before the vendor. Meanwhile, the colorful and crowded banners hanging overhead repeatedly identify his product.
Farmer’s market produce, Imperial Beach, California, 2014
The purpose of a farmer’s market is to provide food “fresh from the farm,” and the produce in this image reinforces that idea. This photograph is all about color – it is bulging with red, orange, and blue items. I composed this image around the parallel rows of cartons sweeping from the bottom of my frame to the top, expressing the magnitude of the produce for sale. I want those who may look at this image to imagine how good this food might taste.
Baguettes, Farmer’s market, Imperial Beach, California, 2014
I used a close-up vantage point to stress the varying textures on these baguettes, and then cropped the image so that the ends vanish, and the rhythmic diagonal positioning of the loaves draws the eye through the image.
Color clash, Farmer’s market, Imperial Beach, California, 2014
I stress the obvious incongruity of clashing green and purple string beans not only by my close-up vantage point, but also by including the metal frame that separates the opposing vegetables. Yet the separation is not complete – it seems that the green beans are in the process of invading the territory of the purple beans here.
Tomatoes, Farmer’s market, Imperial Beach, California, 2014
I let the rich primary red color of this familiar vegetable tell the story here. My Fuji sensor thrives on primary colors and I give it free reign here to revel in red. I tilt my camera sideways to cause the black edges of the separating frame to appear as a diagonal, energizing the scene.
Waiting for a bite, Imperial Beach, California, 2014
Fishing from this town’s pier is a popular activity for many. I found this fisherman waiting for a bite and photographed him with a 24mm wideangle focal length. The diagonal thrust of the pier’s fence echoes the diagonal sweep of the overhead cloud. Some of the town’s beachfront condos appear in the background, along with a new resort hotel (the yellow building).