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Beach Day: Ebb and Flow of Life

Every year, for as long as I can remember, I’ve tried to make time for a beach day.

Varying degrees of access

In New York City, getting to a not-so-crowded beach meant commuting for over an hour. Walk to the subway. Take the subway to Penn Station for a Long Island Railroad train to a beach of choice. I usually went to Jones Beach, which was a short walk from the train stop.

I rarely arrived while the sun was high and super hot, but I do recall struggling as I roasted with no shade on the hot sand.

That being said, I lived on an island – Manhattan. Every day outside was an opportunity to see, walk by, ride alongside, or sit near the water. So, getting to the beach once a year to put my feet in the ocean was a symbolic goal.

I didn’t realize how much water was part of my daily life until I moved to Tucson, AZ. The closest beaches were four hours south,  Rocky Point/Puerto Peñasco, Mexico on the Baja Peninsula, and six hours west to San Diego, CA. The highway ends at the Pacific Ocean.

I figured I could do a road trip a year for beach time, and life would be fine. I made it to San Diego one time before leaving the Southwest.

In Milwaukee, Lake Michigan, a practical sea, is less than ten minutes from my door.

Me touching water for the year.

Though I get to the water often, to peek at it, moon over it, decompress with it, I rarely get close enough to touch it. To wade in it. Certainly never to swim in it.

Lake Michigan is more accessible than the Hudson and East Rivers were in New York. Certainly more accessible than the Pacific Ocean is to Arizona.

Now that I think of it, I don’t think I heard waves from the piers in New York City. The city is full of so many sounds, it’s hard to isolate soothing rhythms.

Appreciating greatness

Perhaps that’s why I love Lake Michigan so much. The sound and the power. It’s expanse. Within minutes of sitting near the water, all I hear is its symphony, engulfed in its fresh smell. The breeze coming off of the water is both flirtatious and nurturing with eye-catching color changes and luminosity.

Get out and touch water

Bodies of water are rejuvenating, envigorating, life-affirming.
The push and pull of the waves. The retreat and reach of foam caps. The way the water ripples and shimmer as it stretches into the horizon, connecting with heaven at the end of our sight and with our feet planted on the earth at the beginning of our frame of vision.

Ah, maybe that’s the lure. The attraction. The beauty. Touching something that seemingly touches eternity infuses the moment with vigor and greatness in a drop of simplicity.

Such is life. Full of simple moments waiting to be seen as great opportunities for whatever a life needs.

Don’t resist the Ebb and flow

As much as I’ve been pulled into the unknown vastness of the sea, I’ve also been returned to the comfort of the shore every time.

Often, people seek the rush and highlights of life. Rarely taking time to sit in nature and be reminded by the breeze of purpose. Take time to see power in the unity of drops. To recalibrate their vision with the vibrancy of nature’s color palette and sound board. Rarely do we simply exist in the space we occupy, ebbing and flowing with creation. Like a drop of rain joining with the sea to form a wave before greeting the land.

When we crash, we think it’s the end of all things. What if we viewed the crash against shore as the beginning of a cycle. No longer part of the wave, separated briefly from the sea. Until the next wave comes to gather all the drops stranded in the sand. Ebb and flow. Pushed and pulled. Retreat and advance. Wherever you are, keep moving. Ride the wave. Crash. Jump back in. Life gets better with every cycle.


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Lunar Eclipse – January 20-21, 2019

At some point in life, I will get technical with my photography and subjects, but for now, I simply love the beauty and clarity that comes through the lens. I’m simple like that. Life is beautiful. The world is glorious and the fact that we’re suspended in the universe in such a way that sustains billions upon billions of life forms – known and unknown – is mind-warping. We’ve been given our own light sources and if we contemplate long enough with adequate tools, we can see more and more light and experience more and more of life.

Below are images taken from my backyard of the super blood moon lunar eclipse on the evening of January 20, 2019 in Marana, AZ (southwest USA). It was a great opportunity to practice capturing details in light and darkness with various lens, by hand and with a tripod.

Equipment: Sony A7iii with Rokinon 14mm and Zeiss 80mm + tripod for long exposure

Pre-eclipse full moon

Pre-totality there was a huge halo in the sky. It returned after totality.

The moon is great to capture, but I was truly trying to capture the stars blanketing the sky which are invisible to our regular vision.

Long exposure practice. Adding seconds to the exposure pulled out more and more stars.

A closer crop of the last two images. The moon at total eclispe – full blood moon.

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Supermoon Lunar Eclipse (September 27, 2015)

Here are the best shots I managed – taken with a 70-300mm zoom lens, tripod and shutter release; with edits in Lightroom. I played around a lot with ISO and shutter release timing for exposure – hopefully, I learned something. Best yet, I was able to stay home and shoot the event from my “backyard” (that’s New York speak for slab between tall buildings) 🙂 – I thought I was going to have to brave Central Park at midnight for the best view. God is good – He’s always looking out for me! 😉

Comments and suggestions on photographing the moon are welcome.

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