photography, random thought, travel

The Ocean Song

The sea is emotion incarnate. It loves, hates, and weeps. It defies all attempts to capture it with words and rejects all shackles. No matter what you say about it, there is always that which you can’t.”
― Christopher Paolini

Ellen is an ocean girl.  And clearly I’m a mountain guy.

So I planned a trip recently that I hoped would offer the best of both worlds… the Pacific Northwest Coast.

It really didn’t disappoint.

But I was surprised at how deeply I too fell for the ocean song.

Pacific surf along Del Norte Coast

Dusk falls on the Pacific at Wilson Creek Beach

There’s more to the music of the sea than just the crash of the waves.

A silhouette of a photographer as dusk falls on the Pacific at Wilson Creek Beach

Or the melodic ebb and flow of the tide.

Dusk falls on the Pacific surf at Wilson Creek Beach

There’s the distant surf rolling and rumbling faintly.  Steadily.

Sea birds and pastels accompany the rocks in the Pacific surf along Del Norte Coast

The chatter of the seabirds.

starfish in the tidal pools near Arch Rock

plant life and wildlife in the tidal pools near Arch Rock

The gentle sway of the tiny creatures.

Arch Rock at dusk

There is a sound to the light.  It carries all of these other notes of the sea to create one grand song.

The sun sets on the Pacific and a tent campsite with beautiful displays of color

The sun sets on the Pacific and a tent campsite with beautiful displays of color

The sun sets on the Pacific with beautiful displays of color

Dusk falls on Bandon Beach

Dusk falls on Bandon Beach

And when the sun drops beyond the horizon, out of view, the symphony doesn’t end.

Dusk falls on Bandon Beach

In fact, the orchestral crescendo begins to take shape with soft colors and the gentleness of the breeze.

Dusk falls on Bandon Beach

This is where the song takes shape.  This is where the minor key takes hold.

Dusk falls on Bandon Beach

Dusk falls on Bandon Beach

Dusk falls on Bandon Beach

Dusk falls on Bandon Beach

It is primal song. And it is one that I will forever try to capture, impossible as it is… it hangs just out of reach in the air around us and passes through us tenderly. It tells us that we are not alone. That this is not all by chance.

It reminds us that every song has a composer.

— andrew

Join me on an amazing adventure… check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
Big Bend NP // Night/ Landscape // 2016
Isle of Skye // S C O T L A N D // 2016
Highlands // S C O T L A N D // 2016
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music, photography, random thought, writing

sister winter

i love winter. when i lived in wyoming, winter was considerably more “involved” than it is in texas. but the fact remains; winter is the season of death.  no matter where you live.

certainly i am no lover and harbinger of death. “slayer” is not carved into my arm.  but i am obsessed with what inevitably walks patiently beside death:  the opportunity for renewal.

where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure.  ~  rumi

there was a time in my life when my heart froze over – it took so many years to thaw.  sufjan’s song sister winter reminds me of this time.  

it seems to be a beautiful and poignant letter of explanation to his friends.  he tells them that his heart has returned to sister winter, and is as cold as ice.  the weight of sadness is almost too much to bear.

he goes on to describe in filmic detail a failed relationship.  it cuts deep into the listener. 

but what i love most about sister winter is the end of the song. it builds and builds… and when all of this scar tissue and raw emotion culminate and burst forth, breaking free from the frost, sufjan belts out an intense, “and my… friends, i’ve… returned to wish you all the best…  and my… friends, i’ve… returned to wish you… a… happy Christmas!”  the ice melts, and love flows again.

it ends with bittersweet undertones.  sustained strings in unison fade.

may spring come!  but not before we have proper time to mourn our losses.


losing haringey

the clientele has a song called, “losing haringey”, and it’s haunting and beautiful.  it also deals with the travel theme, and the idea of “home”… so i found it mildly relevant for this blog.  

i’m not a huge fan of this band, but this particular song really grabs me.  it’s another nostalgic-feeling, emotive composition, but this one is spoken word, and interestingly the instrumentation is upbeat and eerie at the same time.  i wish i could explain, but i can’t.  so here is the beautiful prose.  i find it a worthwhile listen or read…


listen here


“In those days, there was a kind of fever that pushed me out of the front door, into the pale, exhaust-fumed park by Broadwater Farm or the grubby road that eventually leads to Enfield: turkish supermarket after chicken restaurant after spare car part shop. Everything in my life felt like it was coming to a mysterious close: I could hardly walk to the end of a street without feeling there was no way to go except back. The dates I’d had that summer had come to nothing, my job was a dead end and the rent cheque was killing me a little more each month. It seemed unlikely that anything could hold much longer. The only question left to ask was what would happen after everything familiar collapsed, but for now the summer stretched between me and that moment.

It was ferociously hot, and the air quality became so bad that by the evening the noise of nearby trains stuttered in in fits and starts, distorted through the shifting air. As I lay in the cool of my room, I could hear my neighbours discussing the world cup and opening beers in their gardens. On the other side, someone was singing an Arabic prayer through the thin wall. I had no money for the pub so I decided to go for a walk.

I found myself wandering aimlessly to the west, past the terrace of chip and kebab shops and laundrettes near the tube station. I crossed the street, and headed into virgin territory – I had never been this way before. Gravel-dashed houses alternated with square 60s offices, and the wide pavements undulated with cracks and litter. I walked and walked, because there was nothing else for me to do, and by degrees the light began to fade.

The mouth of an avenue led me to the verge of a long, greasy A-road that rose up in the far distance, with symmetrical terraces falling steeply down then up again from a distant railway station. There were four benches to my right, interspersed with those strange bushes that grow in the area, whose blossoms are so pale yellow they seem translucent, almost spectral; and suddenly tired, I sat down. I held my head in my hands, feeling like shit, but a sudden breeze escaped from the terraces and for a moment I lost my thoughts in its unexpected coolness. I looked up and I realised I was sitting in a photograph.

I remembered clearly: this photograph was taken by my mother in 1982, outside our front garden in Hampshire. It was slightly underexposed. I was still sitting on the bench, but the colours and the planes of the road and horizon had become the photo. If I looked hard, I could see the lines of the window ledge in the original photograph were now composed by a tree branch and the silhouetted edge of a grass verge. The sheen of the flash on the window was replicated by bonfire smoke drifting infinitesimally slowly from behind a fence. My sister’s face had been dimly visible behind the window, and –yes- there were pale stars far off to the west that traced out the lines of a toddler’s eyes and mouth.

When I look back at this there’s nothing to grasp, no starting point. I was inside an underexposed photo from 1982 but I was also sitting on a bench in Haringey.

Strongest of all was the feeling of 1982-ness: dizzy, illogical, as if none of the intervening disasters and wrong turns had happened yet. I felt guilty, and inconsolably sad. I felt the instinctive tug back – to school, the memory of shopping malls, cooking, driving in my mother’s car. All gone, gone forever.

I just sat there for a while. I was so tired that I didn’t bother trying to work out what was going on. I was happy just to sit in the photo while it lasted, which wasn’t for long anyway: the light faded, the wind caught the smoke, the stars dimmed under the glare of the streetlamps. I got up and walked away from the squat little benches and an oncoming gang of kids.

A bus was rumbling to my rescue down the hill, with a great big “via Alexandra Palace” on its front, and I realised I did want a drink after all.”