I remember when this location was unknown, but for a very few film photographers. The location is a bit tricky to climb down to, then to walk over large, ankle-busting boulders, then the final assault over wet, slimy boulders (where you could fall in an instant) to the edge of the water. If one was lucky enough to get there on a great morning, with water gently breaking over the boulders and an absolutely cloudless sky at the horizon, it was perfect and was basically like hitting the photo-lottery.
Once I made it down to the edge and deftly maneuvered to the perfect composition, I was unlikely to move, using various exposures as the light changed and switching out grad NDs. When the ethereal cherry light touched the boulders, one only had a few seconds to get it. It was wonderful to be there alone to literally be “one” with the scene and to feel the slowly pulsating movement of the water as it created a fog over the boulders inundating inward and receding for the extremely long exposures. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it. Well, if you weren’t lucky enough to have that experience, you most likely won’t at this particular location, anymore.
Since the advent of digital photography, where anyone with a couple hundred bucks can buy a pretty sophisticated P&S camera, aspiring and novice photographers can go online and research locations to go there themselves. This was my first time on Boulder beach in years, as I have found another, similar, and more difficult to get to, and unpopulated location, which will remain unpublished.
This morning, I took 3 of our workshop participants down to boulder beach, where there were already three photographers. (over crowded by professional standards). However, we were able to get down to the water’s edge before the population exploded. A number of individuals and a 10-12 person workshop followed us. I’m sure I could have done quite well if I had a concession down there! Although, we had our positions staked out, the mood was certainly shattered. Another workshop instructor wanted everyone to work together, which is quite impossible. He also seemed a bit troubled that no one wanted to all line up to get the shot, then move around en masse. I felt the need to say something. To paraphrase, “This area is viable for 3-4 photographers, at the most. We cannot all shoot from the same location so everyone can get the shot. No one is going walk down here to give up their positions to accommodate someone who got there late. If you want to get the best positions, it’s very simple: get up earlier and get here before any one else does, learn and/or teach your clients how to use Content Aware in PS….etc., etc. etc.” I must admit that I was bordering on losing it a bit, hence, this will be my last time photographing at boulder beach (although I will take workshop clients, of course).
This magnificent scene has become a caricature. As far as I know, the only thing that would make this great scene unique would be if a UFO landed on Otter Cliffs!
It escapes me why so many aspiring photographers consider themselves “artists,” yet continually visit very often photographed and published locations, even replicating the same composition created by someone else. That is not unlike tracing an image and claiming it as your drawing. I understand to need and excitement to photograph an iconic scene, but how about some common sense? Snap shots are one thing, but photography is about the experience, of which the image is only a part. When a large number of people show up at dawn and start jockeying for position or dialogues ensue about making room, it just kills everything. I have left many locations when such things occur. I don’t know what the point here is. I guess I’m just venting a bit…
I learned a valuable lesson from an old friend, many years ago during a Smokies workshop. Chris asked the great Pat O’Hara how he would compose a particular shot. Pat brilliantly found a way to frame a distant subject between tree branches. Chris said, “Thanks!” and packed up his tripod without shooting the scene. Astonished, I asked, “Aren’t you going to shoot that?” Chris replied, “No. That’s Pat’s shot.” I was floored, and I learned.
It would be a more interesting photographic world if more photographers adopted Chris’s attitude.
The lead image, my last from boulder beach, was texturized using a flypaper texture, and Nik Color Efex Pro Reflector filter and digital gradND. I would have chosen to position myself further to the right, but there were four other photographers there!
I’d like to get some feedback on the continuous and ever growing flood of photographers to iconic locations.
Thanks and I’ll see you online!