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The Eternal Dance of Waves

GAZING at this photograph of surf and sky and land brings backmemories of days spent walking along a beach at high tide and dodging waves as they moved farther up the shore to eventually claim the beach. This picture arrests the senses. In my imagination I am transported to a world that includes nothing but the sight, sound, smell, and feel of the sea. I hear the rumble of waves as they crash on the shore in frothy, fleeting imitations of the clouds above. Their spray leaves a cool, sticky mist on my face and arms, and I take big gulps of the pungent, salty air. My eyes drink in the cool shades of mint, aquamarine, and slate that frame the horizon.Photographer Robert Harbison captured nature's drama while he was vacationing along the Oregon coast. This particular spot - Cape Kiwanda - is a craggy stretch of coastline that has been the subject of many a poster and postcard.Timing was key to this photograph, Harbison says. He stood, perched on the shore, waiting for the waves to dance just so. In a split second, his eye and camera manipulated the scene, carefully balancing the sky, water, cliffs, and clouds. Other photos he took failed to produce the same results because he was standing a tad more to the left or right, including more ocean or sky.The photo is engaging because it captures some of nature's moods and provides a pleasing contrast of shapes and textures: The curves of the waves in contrast to the angularity of the cliffs. The water looks inviting and tranquil because of its color but is so forceful that it ``makes the ground shudder,'' according to Harbison. The photo freezes a scene that is replayed over and over along the millions of miles of coastline outlining each continent. The water may be a different color - turquoise in the Caribbean, dark green in the Atlantic - and the coasts may range from white sand to black sand to pebbles to cliffs. But the rhythm of the oceans remains the same; the constant in-and-out motion of the tides gives a sense of infinity, consistency, and power. Perhaps photographers are attracted to oceanscapes for what they represent as well as their beauty.

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