Reflection – Seascapes

I looked at Sugimoto’s Theatres series as part of my research for assignment 3 and this work led me to look at this photographer’s seascapes.

I commented, in my post Hiroshi Sugimoto:

‘How can images that should seem abstract have so much depth? I found myself entranced by them. This series of images are of the horizon between sea and sky, with the horizon in the centre. Despite no obvious technique to lead the eye into the image, the viewer is drawn into the picture’.

I was interested in Sugimoto’s motivation for this series being the desire to capture a view that has remained unchanged over centuries and that can be seen now as it was many many years ago. In considering homage photography in part 5 of the course, I wanted to attempt some seascapes of my own, both recognising Sugimoto’s work and as an experiment in taking a photograph that seems so simple yet so enthralling. I wanted to see if my own sea images could feel so meaningful.

My first images are in colour:

My first comment is that these images were surprisingly not straight forward. I used my shortest lens, 16mm, and a horizontal framing because I wanted as wide a view as possible. I did not want to use a telephoto lens to zoom in. In some ways this would have been a lot easier since the wide angle needed a significant expanse of uninterrupted horizon. The view from Filey Bay was not wide enough – my images would have contained the Brig to the left, and the cliffs of Reighton Bay to the right. However, just north of the Brig, there is a wider expanse of horizon, with Scarborough to the left, and it was from the cliff tops there that I decided I would take my images. I hadn’t considered the distance that the bottom of the cliff extended into the sea, which made it quite difficult to avoid it in the foreground of my pictures. It was a very windy day too, and I was mindful of the dangers of getting too close to the edge. Also, I had taken only a monopod, and the strength of the wind was too much for me to use a slow shutter speed. My best images were taken with the camera handheld close to the ground. I had hoped that I could use a long exposure to further blur the distinction between sky and sea, but this was not possible. I experimented instead with larger apertures to try to create a blurring effect that way.

However, the results showed me that my images had that same feeling of being drawn into the picture, as Sugimoto’s did, and I really liked the effect.

I tried my images in mono, to more closely reflect Sugimoto’s images:

I think these images work well in mono. The second image, because of the positioning of the clouds, encourages a feeling of depth in the image. It would be interesting to see the effect of a cloudless day, and perhaps a calmer sea, and whether this would create a more abstract result.

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