Midweek afternoon, Imperial Beach, California, 2014
A lone visitor, backpack still in place, takes a break from his travels to spend a few minutes relaxing at one of the many overlooks that run the length of Imperial Beach. I anchor the image with the massive z-shaped wall that he leans upon. I made this image during a midweek afternoon. The crowds that filled this same beach a few days before have now vanished. In their place are just a few umbrellas, and a small child who contrasts with the nearly empty sands that fill the frame. A red flag pulls the eye into the image – it is one of many that warn swimmers of the strong currents.
Needs shower, Imperial Beach, California, 2014
This little boy, his feet, legs, and hands covered in wet sand, has just been told to take a shower. He is expressing his feelings to us about that idea. I made a number of photos of him as he tried to delay his dousing, but this one tells the story through gesture and expression. He simply was having too much fun in the sand, and does not want it to end. We can almost hear his plea.
Beach butterfly, Imperial Beach, California, 2014
This couple was packing its gear and getting ready to head home after a long day at the beach. I watched and waited as the woman unfolded a large translucent beach towel and began to wrap it around herself. The light passing through the towel, as well as its color and shape, resemble the wings of a butterfly. The diagonal flow of the towel repeats the diagonal struts of the Imperial Beach pier in the background. The rows of horizontal waves echo her outstretched arms as well, while a smattering of bathers link the couple to pier in the background.
One foot a time, Imperial Beach, California, 2014
I have no idea why this fellow left his beach chair to walk towards the water wearing only one shoe. However, he offered me an opportunity to make an incongruous photograph. I was able to emphasize this incongruity by waiting until he reached the wettest part of the sand, creating a reflection that repeats his bare foot for a second time. I left the empty chair in the frame as well – his other shoe rests just behind it.
Squall at sunset, Imperial Beach, California, 2014
The sun has dropped below the horizon, yet it still illuminates a rain squall miles off shore. A somewhat chilled bather, his shoulders wrapped in a crimson towel, stops in the foreground to savor the scene. We share this view of those distant showers together with him. A lone horizontal wave echoes the horizontal beach, ocean, and rain squall.
Beach mates, Imperial Beach, California, 2014
A very large dog sits with his master upon a concrete bunker, sharing a moment of sunset companionship. I abstract the scene by silhouetting them and shooting them from behind. When the dog turned its head slightly towards the man and opened its mouth to create a profile, I made this image. I place the sunset itself off to the edge of the frame, and made sure that it appears in soft-focus. The more I look at this image, the more it seems that the dog is telling the man how happy it is to be here with him.
Life imitates art, Imperial Beach, California, 2014
I interpret the town’s “Sea and Sky” sculpture for the third time in this gallery, using life to imitate art. This time I show only the stylized soaring metal sea bird in flight, and waited until a live seagull flew into my frame. I made this image of the gull, it’s wings edged in light, echoing the shape of the metal bird, yet flying in the opposite direction.
Rough water, Imperial Beach, California, 2014
During our final few days in this beach town, the ocean waves became higher and rougher due to a hurricane down in Mexico. I used a very fast shutter speed (one two thousandth of a second) to freeze one of them as it hit the beach, revealing various degrees coloration within the exploding wave. To bring the image to life, I include a sole seagull in the foreground, watching the spectacle from a high and dry vantage point.
Gull riot, Imperial Beach, California, 2014
An inconsiderate visitor left a bag of junk food behind on the beach, causing dozens of seagulls to fight for its remaining contents. I made this image from a considerable distance, using a 350mm telephoto focal length, and shooting from the high vantage point of the Imperial Beach pier. The photograph expresses the heart of an ecological issue – the trashing of our natural resources. The thoughtless person who tossed this bag of junk food onto the beach and left it there represents just one of many who, in their ignorance or laziness, may well cause disease and death to come to these creatures. While this image leaves an impression of chaos, it also speaks of the imperfect relationship that exists between man and nature.
Pelican on the hunt, Imperial Beach, California, 2014
Using a fast shutter speed of one two thousandth of a second and a long telephoto 350mm focal length, I caught this pelican just as one of its wings dipped gracefully into one of several indentations within the clouds floating in the background. The tension between the feathers at the end of that wing and the waiting cloud shows us how precisely the pelican controls its flight path as it soars above the feeding grounds of its prey.
Plunging pelican, Imperial Beach, California, 2014
Although I made this photograph from the Imperial Beach pier, I seemingly caught this pelican plunging through the sky over the downtown San Diego skyline, some 14 miles away. The pelican is diving for fish, and within a matter of a second or two, it will strike the ocean’s surface and hope to scoop a fish into its pouch. The pelican is actually only a few hundred feet from my vantage point, yet my 350mm telephoto lens is long enough to compress the distance between the pelican, the San Diego skyline, and myself, making it seem as if both the bird and the city are close at hand.
Tijuana River National Estuary, Imperial Beach, California, 2014
Encompassing 2,500 acres, this bird reserve is at the endpoint of the 1,700 square mile Tijuana River watershed. One quarter of this watershed lies in the US, and three quarters in Mexico. The US portion begins at Imperial Beach, and continues to the Mexican border eight miles to the south. More than 370 species of birds have been documented in this reserve. I found a lone tree at estuary’s beginning, surrounded by flowers. The marshy estuary appears as a carpet of green, extending to the hills of Mexico in the background. I waited for a cyclist to enter my frame, bringing a sense of scale to this 24mm wideangle image.