In October, while standing on the second beach we visited on Cape Cod, I asked myself, "What's missing here?"
The Washington coast is known for its drama, sea stacks, tide pools, arches and volcanic outcroppings, while the Oregon coast has a diversity second to none with sandstone cliffs, monoliths and extensive sand dunes added to the above list.
So the answer to my question was, "Everything." Which mattered, not at all.
In the Northwest the coast inspires "Wow", "OMG!!", "Unbelievable!". On the Cape, the broad sandy beaches, gentle dunes, sandy cliffs and myriad ocean colors evoke, "Ahhhh.....yes." Followed by a long tension-relieving sigh and usually a smile. It is little wonder that the beaches of the Cape are packed all day, every day in Summer. There is a grace and serenity here that is subtle, but unmistakable. Capturing it photographically is a pleasant challenge. At first, I tried to add drama, but soon realized it wasn't necessary. After settling in, the textures, lines and soft lighting gradually made it effortless.
It can be difficult to capture the character of an area you've never seen before, especially when on a family vacation, during which you want to be with everyone and also make great images. There is nothing better than traveling with my family, so it is important to balance the urge to shoot every sunrise and sunset with having family dinner at a decent hour, and not waking everyone at 0-Dark-Thirty to leave for sunrise. Marie and I have discussed this and I have had similar conversations with numerous photographers who experience the same perplexity. They love their families and they love their hobby. The answer is, you strike the best balance possible, make the best images you can in the moment, and accept the light and weather conditions as they come. Sometimes Fortune smiles upon you, sometimes not, so you relax and enjoy. It is all good!
My thanks to John Ferreira, a fine photographer from Connecticut, whom I met at an Oregon Coast workshop. John sent me a marvelously detailed spreadsheet of locations, best times, and descriptions of the iconic locations on Cape Cod. It was invaluable, and helped us put together an itinerary that worked well for all. Lots of research and a little luck can make for a very satisfying trip.
If I were to return to the Cape, I would shoot the lighthouses from further away, putting them in greater context. They tend to draw you in with their distinctive shapes, colors and textures. The beaches, marshes, harbors and rivers are endlessly compelling. And then, there are the boats....and the towns.
I love the Northwest more than any place on this earth, but the peaceful pleasance of the Cape lingers for a long time.