December 29, 2009

A Day At The Beach


I mentioned last week that we'd be taking some time off to slow things down a bit and enjoy the holidays. We're spending a few days at one of our favorite spots for doing that - California's Monterey peninsula.

I wasn't going to post from here, but I took some photos on the beach today that might give a sense of this place.

Where the sand and rocks of Asilomar meet the Pacific is one of the world's most famous beaches - not for swimming, or surfing, or bikini watching, but for something more primal than that - for slipping away for a while from everything that is manmade - from offices and cubicles, from traffic jams and oil changes, from computer viruses and reboots, from Big Macs and fries.

No photos can really capture the soul of this place. It's raw, pristine, and in some ways even violent. The surf doesn't kiss the shore, it attacks with brutal force. The ground shakes in places from the pounding. After a storm, the remains of birds and animals that weren't strong enough wash up on the beach. It's the rawness of the place, I think, that's humbling and cleansing.

You look into surf that was here millions of years before you and know that it will be here long after you.

I've been to a lot of beaches, but none of them seem to have the mystical attraction of this place. People drive up, get out of their cars, and just stare at the ocean for hours, as if at a religious shrine. It can be cold and windy, but people come here, bundled in parkas and wool caps, to walk in the sand or scramble on the rocks.

The birds and animals are here because this is where their food is. But why do we come to places like this? The answers may seem simple enough, but are they really?

Click on the photos for a closer look.



  1. O Docker these are the best photos I have ever seen. How do you do it? You ought to consider taking up photography as a professional. You have real promise.

  2. I think humans must have an evolutionary link with beaches that mean we are instinctively drawn to them.

    We went to the beach on Christmas day and boy was it cold!

  3. It's funny how trying to make a living from something that most people do for fun (like photography) can take all of the fun out of it. After a while, the politics, the money side, the politics, the weird hours, the politics, and the sheer workiness of it (ha, take that, Stephen Colbert) start taking all of the joy away (Hmm, where have we seen this topic lately in the blogosphere?). I wonder if there's not a blog post there.

    At any rate, it was a lot of fun just wandering down the beach, taking the kind of photos I used to do before I had to worry about what The Man wanted.

    I still don't know what that spooky draw about beaches like this is, though. Before I came to California, beaches were for swimming. You went there when it was hot, to cool off and, well, maybe to check out the girls who were there cooling off, too. I couldn't understand why anyone would want to go to the beach when it was COLD out, until I found this place. I think the guy who invented religion may have done it at someplace like this.

  4. It's true what they say. Life is a beach.

  5. I've never lived very far from the Pacific Ocean. That is a beautiful spot, O Dock and great pictures. Thanks.

    We go to such places because we can't kelp ourselves.

  6. O Docker, I second what Tillerman said in his first post, what words of wisdom can you share with an aspiring photographer who dreams of making a living at it? Damn The Man. Very nice photos indeed! She who must be obeyed and I really like them.

  7. Thanks for the kind words, all.

    Boat, if I had any words for someone wanting to make a living from photography today, they would be to stay as far away from newspapers as possible.

    The sad thing is that the duller the potential subject matter, the easier it is to eke out a living. You could probably do okay photographing furniture and electric can openers for catalogs, but you'd probably be taking orders from half a dozen experts on the proper way to photograph an electric can opener.

    Some people enjoy doing commercial portraiture or weddings and it's possible to prosper doing that, but those who are most successful are usually businessmen first and then photographers.

    A few lucky folks have figured out how to do well photographing sailing, but, as in any business, there's usually a heck of a lot more hard work involved than you would ever guess.

    An almost certain way to starve would be to try to sell photos of pretty beaches.

    Maybe my best advice would be to work on improving your luck. I've been extremely lucky to have been in a few right places at the right times.

  8. My parents went to Monterey to learn Italian!

    Tanti Auguri e Buona Navigazione!

    Thank you for the felicitously salty expansion of the simple Auguri I initially meant to offer - I only went to Monterey to visit my parents, I didn't get to learn Italian there!

  9. Bonnie, there's that six degrees of separation thing again. The last night we were in Monterey, we ate at an Italian restaurant. The waiter was Italian and most of the items on the menu were in Italian, too.

    What an amazing coincidence!

    Buona Spumoni!

  10. Prego! Buona Formaggio!

  11. beautiful, beautiful photos!!! happy, happy new year to you, OmightyOdocker

  12. Thank you, thank you, Bowsprite, Bowsprite.

  13. Well, here in New Mexico, we also have the Santo Queso.

    Um, are things getting a bit cheesy now?

  14. The Santo Queso was a story told by, if I remember aright, New Mexico author Jim Sagel. Although miraculous apparitions have been reported in many places, a sanctified or Holy Cheese presents wholly new possibilities.