Every summer our friends Tom and Paula rent a cottage for a month on the New Hampshire seacoast at Rye Beach. The beach is lined with beautiful and extravagant houses, but Tom and Paula's place stands out as a rustic throwback to earlier times when beach houses was supposed to be simple and time at the shore was more like camping without an elegant modern structure blocking the experience of the sea. During their stay on the beach, Tom and Paula entertain many of their friends and every year we join the group for "Chesterfield Weekend". It is a great chance to be on the coast, to sit and watch the waves, eat and drink and of course talk. We do love to talk.
For me it is a treasured annual opportunity to photograph the New Hampshire seacoast. We are only there for a couple of days and my photography is strictly controlled by the weather, but for a poor landlocked guy, it is always an exciting opportunity. Even when the weather is terrible I can scout out interesting locations for another time. Besides, bad weather is often the best time to shoot. Except when I’m looking to capture a sunrise.
Last year I had carefully planned to catch the sun rising behind
|Last Year's Disappointment|
|Notice the Alien at the Helm|
This year I decided to give it another try. Again the weather seemed marginal, but I was there and it seemed worth another shot. Since we always visit around the same date, the optimal location on Frost Point had not changed. Four AM came just as early as last year, but the sky looked clearer. When I got to the beach there was overcast on the horizon, but just as I was ready for another disappointment, the sky lit up. The golden clouds were a perfect back drop to the lighthouse and the passing boats. This is what I came for and it was worth the two early mornings. As the sun rose above the clouds, and became excessively bright, I began concentrating on the warm light which bathed the rocks and sea grass along the shore. It was a great morning to be by the ocean, peaceful and quiet, and with surprisingly few mosquitoes. While I was wandering the beach, I set up my field recorder on a rock near the water to record the relaxing sounds of the waves and sea birds.
You can also listen to the ocean music on YouTube or as the background for my Atlantic Coast slide show (If you have Flash).
I lingered for awhile, but I had to get back to nap before I joined the crew at the Golden Egg for a perfect breakfast. I enthused about the spectacular sunrise; attempting to make my lazy friends feel sorry that they didn’t join me on the beach. I failed, but, for me, it was still a perfect example of the power of persistence. Eddington would have been proud.
Gifts from the Sea
I bagged my sunrise, but I always try to get the most from my trips to the coast. Although the full moon had passed I scouted around for good moonrise locations. I found that the view from Fort Stark in Portsmouth Harbor would work well. Sadly clouds were an issue on both nights, but soft overcast light worked well for other subjects, such as one of my favorite run down tidal shacks in Rye.
Not all photographic opportunities come based on careful planning. Sometimes you have to be ready when luck plays its part. While beginning to prepare for dinner in the cottage on Friday night, My friend Bob suddenly began screaming for me to come quickly and to bring my camera. A rain shower was passing out to sea and the setting sun had just broken through the clouds, the perfect situation for a rainbow. And there it was, a spectacular full double rainbow floating on the ocean. I leaped back into the house to grab my 16-35 mm wide angle lens and started shooting. My choice of foregrounds was limited, but I was able to incorporate the small deck. Even with the wide angle, I couldn’t catch the full double, so, before the color melted away, I quickly grab a 5 image panorama which happily included Paula and Lynne watching in stunned amazement from the beach. As much as I have learned about how rainbows form, I can rarely anticipate when one will appear. The conditions usually come together in an instant and are gone just as quickly. The best I can do is try to be ready when the miracle happens. This time it worked. This photography stuff is Great!
Before I headed home Sunday afternoon, I wandered the rocks along Rye Beach at low tide. The light was still flat, but I was able to catch some modest surf and tidal pools. I managed to keep my camera dry, but very little else. After drying off I reluctantly headed for home.
Chesterfield Weekend at Rye Beach is always a great chance to visit with friends away from the distractions of home, and happily, there is always time to get out to capture the magic of the ocean. I was sad to leave, but excited to get home to dump my image into the computer and begin exploring my seacoast treasures. If nothing else, it was a refreshing break from the cows and trees.