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May Seascapes


Singing Beach

Last month I had especially good luck getting exceptional lighting conditions at a couple beaches along the Massachusetts Coast. Massachusetts is sort of an unsung hero for quality coastal scenes, with Maine's more famous coastline to the north. That said, there are some special places here I like to get to for sunrise when the forecast is looking good.

Singing Beach

The first five images here were all taken at one of my favorite beaches in the state, Singing Beach in Manchester. This beach is particularly great because it has distinctive rocky outcroppings on either end of a long sandy beach. During low tide, the sandy portion is dotted with tidal pools that have rippled sand patterns, as well as several small streams of fresh ground water that run into the ocean, carving delicate paths in the sand on the way.

Singing Beach

For this particular morning, I revisited the southern rocks of the beach. It's the end of the beach I'm already familiar with and I still considered it a shot I hadn't gotten a great taken from (except on my older Nikon D50 which isn't as suitable for printing large). I also captured a few shots on the sandy portion of the beach, included one that I consider one of my very best images of all time. At some point, I do intend to visit the northern end of the beach. That end has a much higher rocky cliff that will block the sun directly during the summer sunrises, so it may require a different strategy.

Singing Beach

In terms of processing, I feel I have gone through some evolution with this series of shots. I feel I've managed to get a much higher quality in blending exposures, and I finally accomplished a dark and moody appearance I've been wanting for a while, without producing images that are simply too dark.

Singing Beach

Additionally, I've included a black and white image. I don't do these very often, but as I saw this scene, I noticed how the sky and ocean were the same brightness, and virtually seamless when color was removed. This produces the illusion of the offshore rocks floating. A section of carved sand leads the eye into the shot.

Well Rock at Minot Beach

Finally, here is a shot from a separate beach in Scituate. This sandy beach has a fairly distinctive rock in the middle of the beach, allowing for the sand+rock view that is generally difficult to find here in the Northeast. Most beaches are either all sand or all rock, and most of the ones in combination have rocks only on the ends of the sandy beach, limiting composition choices. For this image, I chose a graceful curve of the sand beach that would lead to the rocks and the dramatic sunrise overhead.

I hope to have many more beaches this summer. It's the only time of the year when sunrise is early enough that I can do it and still get home in time to go to work. I also have some ambitious plans for three major trips to Maine this year. In July, I plan to return for a week to Acadia National Park for the first time since 2010. I have learned so much about photography since then and I am looking forward to retaking most of my images there, in much higher resolution as well. In August, I'm aiming to spend a week in Maine's wild and rugged Cutler Coast, which seems sort of like Acadia on steroids and virtually no people in comparison. And then in late September or early October, I'm going to spend a week in the area around Baxter State Park, summitting Katahdin and other significant peaks for the first time and hopefully catching the mountains in some great fall colors.

- Justin Smith

all content copyright Justin Smith 2017