Contrasts, Mission Beach, California, 2015
The sun has just set. A lone surfer patiently waits for ride on a wave. My square frame is formal, allowing me to create striking geometric contrast within by dramatically filling three quarters of the square with blue water and one quarter of it with a fiery orange sky. This hot vs. cool color contrast perfectly complements the contrast in scale provided by the incongruously tiny figure almost lost within the vast setting. The image also speaks metaphorically of our biological origins – the evolution of mankind beginning a world of water and fire.
Heading home, Mission Beach, California, 2015
A break in the wall on Mission Beach’s three-mile long boardwalk provides both an entrance and an exit for this pair of fully clad visitors ending a morning walk along a chilly beach. The beach itself is empty, and the woman at right seems to be shielding her body against the brisk wind. They are surrounded by clashing symbols of order and safety – a litany of beach rules and regulations proclaimed by the city of San Diego incongruously decorate the elegant early 20th century lamppost. A utilitarian lifeguard tower dominates the beach beyond, while the ravages of weather and time itself have reduced an ancient “no alcohol” warning to a red smear on the entrance wall itself. These visitors seem unaware of all of this. They simply want to go home.
Reflection, Mission Beach, California, 2015
The ocean view buildings that line the Mission Beach boardwalk (currently paved in stone) is often lavishly designed. Many, if not most, of these home, condos, and apartments are rented by the day or month to visitors who spend parts of their summers in San Diego’s near perfect weather. Using a wideangle lens, I held my camera low to capture this passing runner’s reflection in the long glass panel that shelters those who may be using on the patio behind it. A long white line divides public from private space – it echoes the sweep of the wall, and pulls us past the receding line of homes, lampposts and trees that line the boardwalk. The thrust of this line also echoes a vertical cloud that floats above the scene.
The skater, Mission Beach, California, 2015
A lone boardwalk skater glides past a beach entrance chopped out of the walk’s well-worn wall. Signs banning smokers, drinkers, and glass bottles repeat their message both behind and in front of him. His vertical figure plays against a series of horizontals -- a double yellow traffic line, the wall, beach, and even a line of tiny birds perched at waters edge. Meanwhile, the distant incoming surf and the overhead clouds help propel him through the image.
Sailors all, Mission Beach, California, 2015
The United States Navy has several bases in San Diego, and its sailors often exercise by running up and down the three-mile long Mission Beach boardwalk. This group of sailors is shouting a cadence call as they run past us, a study in various stages of exertion. The navy designation “CG 52,” which appears twice in this image, tells us that these sailors are stationed on the cruiser “Bunker Hill.” Navy Blue carries the day here, along with incongruous touches of florescent green on some of the shoes. I also like the incongruity displayed among the subjects -- short and tall, big and small, male and female. Sailors all.
Stepping along, Mission Beach, California, 2015
Four visitors head down the boardwalk towards us. There of the four wear broad brimmed hats. The hatless woman wears a shirt advertising a popular New York City restaurant. They march out of step, looking down at their feet. I’ve managed to stop those feet at various points in their stride. While they may walk here together as a group, they also take each step in a very individual manner.
Opposites, Mission Beach, California, 2015
This young athlete is using the boardwalk wall as a base for her stretching exercises. As she pulls on a leg, she looks out to sea, bathed in the warm evening light. She never notices the softly focused man standing behind her, only a few feet away. He is a scavenger, combing the boardwalk and its trash barrels, looking for refuse that he can later exchange for cash. Using a 350mm telephoto lens, I was able to bring them together in this moment, expressing a series of opposite ideas: differing ages, genders, activity, and goals, contrasted in sharp vs. soft definition. They never noticed or acknowledged each others presence.
Scavenger, Mission Beach, California, 2015
This is the same scavenger I photographed in my previous image. I made this portrait of him five days earlier, shooting from the second floor balcony of our apartment overlooking the Mission Beach boardwalk. Because of this high position, he never noticed me. (This is the first in a series of five images that I made from this same high position.) I waited for him to move past a trash barrel, and then I made this image. The barrel conveys a context for his “business.” He was only a softly focused presence in the previous image, but he appears in sharply defined detail here. Carrying a backpack, he dresses in colors that blend with his working environment. We see the bottles and cans within the bulging transparent plastic bags that hang from his bicycle. The bike seems overloaded, and so does he. He pushes and carries his load slowly, with care and purpose, scanning beach, boardwalk, and barrels for trash he can cash.
On point, Mission Beach, California, 2015
I also made this image from a balcony overlooking the boardwalk. Many runners pass below it, all day and every day. I built this image within a geometric structure. The wall in the background provides a strong diagonal thrust, matching the flow of the diagonal shadow cast by a neighboring building. I waited until this runner reached the space between that shadow and the wall, so that the shadow diagonally cuts through one shoulder. Her strained expression is emphasized by the contrasting light and shadow on her face, drawing our eye to her incongruously flying blonde hair. I energize the entire image by comparing her flying elbows to the shadow on the ground that directs the eye towards her flying figure.
Protect, Mission Beach, California, 2015
Over a month of shooting the action on Mission Beach’s boardwalk from the vantage point of an overhead balcony, I was able to make dozens of portraits of runners, walkers, skaters, and cyclists. In this portrait of a man and young child slowly cycling below me, I express contrasts in age, scale, gesture and costume to tell a story about protection. The child is seated within a vividly colored plastic safety seat, his colorful helmet incongruously larger than the head within it. The boldly tattooed man protectively touches the child’s shoulder with one hand, and grasps a handlebar of with the other. Stripped to waist, he starkly contrasts in scale and costume to the child. The child gazes towards us, as the man carefully moves his bicycle through, and then out, of my frame.
Generations, Mission Beach, California, 2015
In this image, the fourth in my sequence of overhead “balcony” shots, I deliberately place the bristly trunk of a palm tree one-quarter of the way into my frame. I use it as a natural barrier, symbolizing the great divide between generations. I wanted to make an image contrasting an older exerciser to a much younger athlete. It came together within one four-hundredth of a second. I saw both of these people approaching from nearly a block away, and waited for them to enter my frame. As this older cyclist calmly pedals into the narrow space between the left hand edge of the frame and the palm tree, the young skater on the other side of the tree gets ready to pass him. This image is rich in contrast: I am comparing age, placement, costume, energy level, and means of locomotion, satisfying my intention of defining the divide between generations.
Alone, Mission Beach, California, 2015
The final picture in this five-picture “balcony” sequence is quite different from the other four. This time, I do not shoot someone coming towards me. We can’t see who this man is, but rather we come to understand what he represents as a symbol. He is an abstracted figure, seemingly walking in private, rather than in public. He walks away from us, enveloped by the shadowy wall and the shadow it casts on the boardwalk itself. His hat is pulled down over his head. He wears all black, and he looks down as he walks at a carefully measured pace. The sun illuminates only his hat and his fingers. Strong diagonal lines echo his journey from both sides. The tire tracks on the sand and the stone boardwalk wall itself seem to guide him from the left. Meanwhile, the shadow of the wall, as well as the double yellow and black dividing lines in the middle of the boardwalk, trace his progress from the right. He may walk alone with his thoughts, yet all who view this image are encouraged to follow along as well.