A 20-second exposure of a scene on a beach after an early summer storm.
Picture of Stephen Girimont

Stephen Girimont

Owner, The Intimate Landscape, Fine Art Prints

Beach After Storm

"...whispering to myself "Please don't move, please don't move..."

On a recent family trip to the coast, we encountered fairly stormy conditions in the evenings which kept me from venturing out on the beach (lightning was in the vicinity and the beaches were cleared as the storms moved through). However, as the storms moved on to the east, I was drawn to the colors and streaks of the wet sand. Setting up my camera and tripod on the balcony of my hotel room, I experimented with neutral density filters and long exposures to create cloud-like milkiness in the surf.

A 20-second exposure of a scene on a beach after an early summer storm.

When they started allowing folks back on the beach, this one woman just happened to walk into the scene I was photographing and stopped; I think she was taking pictures herself with a phone or a tablet. I knew I had an interesting picture already framed in the camera and was whispering to myself “please don’t move, please don’t move” for the 20 seconds of the exposure.

Amazingly, she did stay in one spot. While not exactly stationary (in the image you can see ghosting from where she moves slightly during the exposure) she stayed in one spot long enough to be recorded in my image. More amazingly, so did two seagulls I never even noticed! I love how the woman and the one seagull are positioned in approximately the same spots in their respective curves of the sinusoidal shape of the shoreline. You may be able to just make out the ghostly shadows of other seagulls who didn’t stay quite as still during the full exposure.

The light in this image is interesting. This was taken in the evening on the East Coast of the U.S., so the sun is behind my hotel, setting in the west through the remnants of the storm. The trash cans on the lower right are in a slightly brighter area of lighting, which is very flat. I believe some light was coming from between my hotel and the hotel to the right of mine, front-lighting the trash cans a little brighter than the rest of the scene.

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