Dawn at the Cape

Cape Cod Dawn
Provincetown Dawn on Cape Cod Bay

Sometimes the less said about the creative process, the better.  Sometimes I just want to do my work and move on.

If you like this computer altered photo of dawn at the beach in North Truro during my recent trip to Cape Cod, I will be most pleased if you stop reading now. Here is a larger size to better appreciate the alteration.

Thanks for stopping by.  The photo should be appreciated for what it is.  Explaining it implies it needs explanation.

You’re still reading.  I suppose knowing there are these words ahead you expect some insight.  Why did I alter the photo ? Or why was a garden photographer on this beach at dawn.

First, I show this picture because I am exploring.  I have been defining myself as a garden photographer for more than 25 years and am feeling constrained by that definition.  Entirely self imposed I know, but never-the-less I have been seduced by the successes I have had to think that gardens are where I should spend my energy, and other work was irrelevant – i.e. I couldn’t sell it.

That statement alone is fraught with other meaning but it is true that I take few pictures that I don’t think I can sell.  I hardly take any family photos because I know they can not approach the quality of my professional work.  A sad confession to make as a photographer.  I wish I could say I was consumed to take photos regardless of who sees them, technical quality, or market value.

With those very thoughts about how I define my art bubbling through my brain, and adjusting to the changes in my blurry vision these past few months, I went to Cape Cod for a family reunion centered around the 80th birthday of my Uncle Graham.  My uncle is an oceanographer and has lived in the dunes of what is now Cape Cod National Seashore most of his life.  He is friends with the poet Mary Oliver whose words have immortalized the area and inspired me to bring my cameras in a vain hope to capture an iota of her insight with an image.  This, of course is impossible, since a poet’s genius is in the fact they do not lock you into their visual but allow your soul to soar with your own imagination.

That being said and wanting to explore some new work, I had the excuse to pack my bags and tote my best cameras on a non garden trip.  I planned an early morning expedition to High Head and the immortalized ponds on the first day, before all the family was to gather.  Yet when I looked out of my motel room overlooking Cape Cod Bay in the pre-dawn light and smelled the air, I could not resist the beach.  I decided to be exhilarated by the dawn rather than forcing myself into the poet’s preserve.

I grabbed my G11 point and shoot camera and walked toward Provincetown.  Is sublime a too banal a word for my feeling in that morning light ?

This is  what the camera captured of those little lumberman’s bungalows facing the bay.

The best camera is the one you have with you when the heaven’s open, and the G11 became my tool.  Any digital image capture would need enhancement of this scene but the limitations of the point and shoot to enlarge to exhibition size persuaded me to use some artistic filters.  With the filters transforming the pixels, I can make a large print without some of the noise and, well, simply, make the scene more painterly.

It is a slow process learning to use digital photo filters, but I find myself comfortable in the work.  It allows me to feel more careful in selecting images I want to share, slowing down to work on aspects of the photo that bring out mood.  Perhaps I should be working more on my straight camera skills to bring out the mood.  Perhaps.  But I am not consumed to take pictures.  I feel consumed to make some art.

After the sun came up and its fresh light skipped across the gentle waves of Cape Cod Bay, I used the G11 macro feature and swivel tilt viewing screen to capture a low angle view of the bubbling beach foam.  I won’t bother to show you the original, and this interpretation still needs some work I think.   Sometimes the less said about the creative process, the better.


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