Hoping that a change of scenery would start the creative juices flowing, I headed out to Forest Beach the other day.
A well-manicured stretch of Lake Michigan lakefront just east of the pristine village of Lake Forest, Forest Beach was indeed a change from my usual photographic haunts, with their half frozen, inland lakes and grove after grove of barren, lifeless trees.
A change was needed; I could feel it.
The rocky break wall sitting about 50 yards off the frozen sands at my new spot would create, I had imagined, scenes of windswept waters crashing high in the air against a sky streaked with yellow and blue clouds from the setting sun.
A nice idea, indeed. But only an idea.
What I was greeted by instead was a cloudless sky, calm waters and a series of rocky break walls that provided minuscule, but admittedly interesting patterns as the waves gently rolled up against them.
To say I was disappointed while trudging along the frozen sands would be an understatement. And the heavy back full of camera gear didn't help. It wasn't the first time Mother Nature had thrown me a curve, but the task of any photographer in such a situation called for persistence. So I carried on.
Inspiration eventually managed to show its elusive self a couple times in the journey. So I made images of yellow and brown rocks resting on the sandy beach, reflected in shallow pools of icy water from slowly moving waves.
But my juices remained as frozen as the crusty sands beneath my feet,
until I arrived at the far south end of the beach, where the breakwall met the shoreline.
There, the rolling waters of Lake Michigan, gently curled around the jagged rocks, forming lovely textures that mimicked their shapes. And an occassional wave half-heartedly worked their way against the rocks, creating milky splashes, much more mild than I had hoped for, but interesting none the less.
This miniature version of the scene I planned for was so captivating that I failed to notice my tripod sinking into a beachfront made soft by the icy waters rolling over my hiking shoes, soaking the fleece lined socks and my toes inside.
But none of that mattered—at least not in those moments. These mere distractions vanished and the scene I had envisioned earlier morphed into what I was actually seeing before me: a slice of the natural world that showed the contradiction between the winter waters caressing the rocks near my feet, and the calm lake a few feet down the beach.
Making my way back to where my day began, the image that would become “Contradictions” safely tucked away in the camera, I returned to the here and now.
Inspiration had returned, albeit, briefly... and accompanied by a pair of icy wet feet.
“Contradictions” is available in the landscape gallery at www.ejschweit.com
It goes without saying
“For us, the most interesting approach to photography emphasizes the experience of seeing. It is what Henri Cartier-Benson described as 'Putting one's head, one's eye, and ones heart on the same axis.' ” -Andy Karr and Michael Wood, “The Practice of Contemplative Photography”